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Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
~~ Paper # 2: Objective Writing ~~
Objectives: (1) to choose a form to practice objective writing: either the “profile essay” or the “report”; (2) to craft the message (in style and content) according to the demands of the chosen form; (3) to continue to practice techniques for generating ideas (brainstorming, freewriting, mind-mapping); (4) to continue to practice revision, and in revising to consider the larger rhetorical situation: the ways in which the needs of the writer, the subject, and the audience can all be successfully accommodated in a piece of writing; (5) to practice careful editing and proofreading.
Directions: Choosing either the profile essay or the report, write a 3-5 page paper that informs readers about a subject of your choice. In the case of the profile, you can choose to write about a person, a group of people, or a place. In the case of the report you should choose as your subject a significant social issue that you think readers need to be more informed about. If you choose to write a “fact sheet,” you’ll need to do some research to learn some detailed information about your subject; to streamline this research I’ve compiled a list of currently published reports (see below) available on the Internet. You can use one of these or search for information on your own, either online or in the library. It’s not necessary to print out your source as long as you include the URL in a footnote. Whichever project you choose to work on, your paper should be written in a style appropriate to your purpose; whereas the profile may sometimes contain expressive elements like impressionistic description and a first person point of view, the fact sheet should be written in a strictly objective style—in a consistent third person point of view.
Thinking about your rhetorical choices. The readings we’ve discussed in class, along with the readings in your textbook (chapters 7 and 8) have demonstrated the demands of each of the these objective forms. “The Five Bedroom, Six Figure Rootless Life” and “Soldiers of Christ: Inside America’s most powerful megachurch” are both profile articles that exemplify how the profile has both objective and expressive aims: it communicates information about its subject while also communicating the writer’s impressions of the subject. If you write a profile you will decide if you want it to be mostly objective, mostly expressive, or an equal mixture of the two.
If you choose to work on one of the report projects Trimbur suggests (Chapter 8, p. 289), study the way Mark Crispin Miller, in his article “None Dare Call it Stolen,” pulls facts from the Conyers report, “What Went Wrong in Ohio,” in order to further explain, amplify, or emphasize them to his readers. You can also study the Executive Summary of that report to see how the report writers themselves present what they consider to be the most important factual findings that the report has to offer. Furthermore, you can study the examples in your textbook (chapter 8) and on the course website; look for the link in the Notes section called “Fact Sheets: Examples.” If you decide to write a fact sheet you will aim to make it as informative as possible; your goal is to help readers understand what they need to know about an important social issue.
Starting your profile essay: Read Trimbur’s directions in The Call to Write (pp. 249, #1-5) to help you find a subject for an interesting profile essay. Try some of his Invention Exercises on ppl 250 253: Finding a Subject, Clarifying Your Purpose, Developing a Statement of Purpose, Deciding on the Dominant Impression, Arranging Your Material).
Starting your “report” project: Read the assignment directions in Chapter 8, p. 289-90 and choose a project from the ones that Trimbur suggests. You can also visit one of the websites listed below and search for a report on a topic of interest to you. A few sample reports are listed first; any of these can serve as a reliable source of information from which to create a report style paper or a “fact sheet.”
Sample Reports Online
Health: Avian Bird Flu
A Report from the WHO (World Health Organization)
Responding to the avian influenza pandemic threat: Recommended strategic actions
Iraq: Insurgent Groups Responsible for War Crimes
A Report from Human Rights Watch
A Face and a Name: Civilian Victims of Insurgent Groups in Iraq
Iraq: Leadership Failure
A Report from Human Rights Watch
Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division
Impact of Climate Change
United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change
Poverty and Climate Change: Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor
Many reports are available at these websites:
Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG)
PennPIRG Front Page
PennPIRG “conducts investigative research, publishes reports and exposés, advocates new laws, and, when necessary, takes corporate wrongdoers or unresponsive government to court.”
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch Front Page
Investigative reporting dedicated to protecting human rights around the globe.
Znet Resources Page
A leftist, progressive site emphasizing the need for social change.
Questions? Contact me.
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