Illuminating a Debate
This assignment requires you to explore a debate currently unfolding in any
aspect of our contemporary culture, such as fashion, music, movies, news, sports, technology, politics, social media, or advertising. However, you are not
taking a stance on the debate itself; you are illuminating why
it’s such a captivating or polarizing topic by tracing the various lines of argument and rhetorical strategies deployed in the surrounding conversation. For example, you might research why the anti-vaccine movement has gained
traction in recent years, or examine the recent passing of the abortion referendum in Ireland. You could even explore the polarizing nature of the Kardashian media empire. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that you are not making a simplistic argument, but rather shining a light on the workings of the debate: why it matters, how it functions, and what it can teach us about our wider culture and the ways in which we deploy arguments.
Questions You Might Consider:
1)What makes this debate so polarizing? Why are we paying attention to it now?
2) What historical, cultural, political, social, scientific or other kinds of context do we need to understand and frame the discussion?
3)Who is the audience? What have other people said about the subject of debate?
4) Whose voices get attention in the conversation around it, and why?
-Who are the stakeholders? What do they have to gain or lose?
– What rhetorical strategies and argumentative tactics are being deployed in the debate? What kinds of beliefs, values, and assumptions are taken for granted?
Grading Criteria (what I’m looking for):
explaining why the debate is important, and why it’s especially important
right now ; considering its broader implications
2) Participating in a Scholarly Conversation:
acknowledging the experts and interested parties who have already spoken the your topic; incorporating their ideas into your writing smoothly and effectively; adding an interesting twist or contribution of your own
3) Critical Analysis: asking, how does this debate (and the arguments nested within it) work? What gives participants the authority to “speak”? What rhetorical strategies do they employ? How do readers/viewers/listeners respond to it?