For your first major assignment, you will develop an expository research paper that explores the concept of difference. Starting with the themes from our first readings, think about a specific group of individuals (or a cultural or artistic movement) that will allow you to define, describe, and analyze difference. Think about the ways a group is defined as different by others and/or by themselves. Examples could include people with disabilities, immigrant communities, religious cultures, professional groups or class differences. You could look at specific fandom cultures (Trekkies, . . .). For an artistic movement, you could, for example, look at graffiti artists. With an exploratory paper, your research may take you in many directions, even as you focus on a specific group within the framework of difference.
Developing a research question: An essential element of research is thinking about a question you would like answered through the course of your research. Here are some examples:
What does it mean to be part of cosplay culture, and how has this culture evolved?
What are the origins of punk culture, and how has it been defined?
What are the experiences of refugee communities in small towns?
How do students with disabilities experience college?
How is graffiti regarded in relation to more conventional art? What sets it apart as different? How does it challenge or confirm what defines art?
The broad purpose of this paper is to develop research and analytical skills. In the course of the paper, you should describe the group you have chosen, discuss the ways in which this group is defined in terms of difference (for example, from within and outside the group, through stereotype, myth, contrast, and so on), and analyze the significance of your findings.
Your paper should be around 1500 words.
While you may use a range of sources, including interviews, blogs, and so on, you MUST include a minimum of FOUR authoritative sources.
Your paper should be in APA format with a references page, in-text citations, and appropriate page layout.
Imagine your audience as people in an academic context (including but not limited to professors, other students, scholars interested in writing on the subject). The paper should sound like a thoughtful, formal conversation you are having with them. Academic readers are also inherently curious and skeptical: they ask tough questions, so make sure to use the best sources and to develop your thoughts clearly and with good support. This allows you to approach your topic so that others can truly “see” it and understand it, as well as your views on it and the research you have conducted.
PLEASE NOTE: Papers submitted after the deadline will be given a 10 point penalty for each day late. You may submit papers no later than three days after the original due date. Papers will not be accepted after Monday, October 3 at 11:59 pm.
Your essay will receive points based on the following guidelines:
PURPOSE AND IDEAS (35 points)
Excellent: This essay has a clear and insightful sense of purpose and audience. The controlling idea (thesis) shows depth of thought and is logically developed throughout the paper. The writer brings striking insights to her/his topic.
Good: The essay has a clear controlling idea, and the writer develops an analysis that shows some depth of thought.
Adequate: The essay has a controlling idea, but the purpose is not clearly expressed throughout.
Poor: The essay has a thesis that is too general, vague, or confused.
Failing: This essay does not have a discernible idea controlling the paper. Little or no sense of audience and purpose leaves the paper without a sense of direction.
ORGANIZATION/STRUCTURE (35 points)
Excellent: The structure of the essay is tightly controlled, following logically from the demands of the original research question and revealing a firm command over the reader’s expectations. The writer incorporates the required elements into a smoothly organized study.
Good: The essay has a strong sense of order: paragraphs are unified and coherent; transitions assist the reader’s progression from one point to the next. The essay effectively relates the required sections.
Adequate: The order of the essay is apparent. Paragraphs are well controlled, but not always unified. Transitions are functional.
Poor: Order and emphasis have little bearing on the thesis/purpose of the essay. Paragraphs are unorganized and underdeveloped. The essay is missing key sections.
Failing: The essay has no structure; paragraphing appears random and arbitrary.
EVIDENCE/EXAMPLES (75 points)
Excellent: Support for the writer’s ideas is detailed, precise, vivid, and relevant. The writer has not settled for the obvious but impresses the reader with keen observations and insights. The writer handles sources carefully, offering concise, precise quotations as necessary and blending sources skillfully into the argument—the writer uses a wide range of sources and shows in-depth knowledge of the topic and sources.
Good: The essay’s points are developed with clear and at times vivid detail. Support for major ideas is ample with clear support from sources—the writer shows a good understanding of how to handle sources and blend them into an argument. The sources are relevant to the topic.
Adequate: The essay has evidence, most of which is directly relevant to the writer’s thesis. Rather than provide details, the essay usually settles for generalizations and characterizations. The writer tends to either overuse sources at times or does not always support ideas with clear references to sources. The sources need to show more breadth and depth.
Poor: Evidence is general and at times irrelevant or contradictory. The writer either “overquotes” throughout the paper or rarely refers to the sources. The writer has not adequately researched the topic.
Failing: The essay consistently dwells on generalization, while any details do not seem to contribute to any specific point/purpose. The paper is either a collection of quotations or the writer fails to use any sources throughout. The writer has failed to research the topic.
STYLE (40 points)
Excellent: Not only are sentences varied and forceful, but word choice is fresh, active, and precise. Tone complements the subject and distinguishes the writer. The essay contains very few mechanical errors (spelling, punctuation)–none of which detract from the exposition of ideas.
Good: The sentences are correct and varied; word choice is clear and active. The tone fits the audience, and the writer’s voice is distinct. The essay may have occasional mechanical errors, but none of them are serious or distracting.
Adequate: Sentences are correct but do not show a high degree of variation. Word choice is at times imprecise and inactive (‘got’, ‘really’, ‘a lot’ . . . ). The essay has some punctuation and spelling errors.
Poor: Sentences lack organization and variety. Word choice is vague and misleading. The tone is inconsistent or inappropriate. The essay shows difficulties with the mechanics of writing.
Failing: Serious problems with the mechanics of writing and frequent errors.
DOCUMENTATION (30 points)
Excellent: The writer applies APA documentation style with only very minor errors.
Good: The writer shows an overall understanding of documentation with some consistent but minor errors.
Adequate: The writer applies the basics of documentation style but has some major missing elements or some consistent major errors.
Poor: The writer’s use of documentation seems haphazard, and the paper is missing some major elements.
Failing: The writer fails to follow any clear documentation style.