Read the following sections in preparation for this assignment:
- “Thesis” in CEL Ch. 8, p. 251-254
We are working in this unit towards the goal of writing an essay that defines the context for your chosen issue and synthesizes existing perspectives about the issue.
Context, as we have defined it, is both a rhetorical tool and an analytical tool. We have used context to evaluate texts in other assignments from this module. For this activity, we will use context as a rhetorical tool to give purpose, focus, and grounding to the ideas we are developing for our research on a relevant cultural or social issue.
Write a short response of at least 200 words in which you practice defining the context for the topic you are writing about in this unit. Use the following questions from the “Thesis” section in CEL Ch. 8 to help you. Additionally, see the example below for analysis of context in the Wykoff article:
- How can you establish that the issue you are writing about is relevant: timely, current, and part of important existing conversations?
- How can you refer to existing perspectives on your chosen issue in order to show that you are knowledgeable and that your ideas are credible?
- How can you identify space in the existing conversation for your own ideas: a chance to re-interpret, disagree, extend existing arguments, or provide new evidence and support?
- What is your thesis and main claim, and how does your main claim take part in the context that you have established above?
Submit your response as 1-2 strong, coherent paragraphs to this assignment.
Here is one example of how student writer Simon Wykoff moves quickly through these questions to create a context for his thesis and main claims (see Wykoff, “Unemployed and Working Hard,” CEL 403):
- RELEVANCE OF ISSUE: “A common stereotype in today’s society is that of the lazy bum. People see a homeless man on the side of the road, waiting for handouts, and assume that’s all he ever does”
- EXISTING PERSPECTIVES: “According to a fact sheet available from the National Coalition for the Homeless, […] roughly 3.5 million people in the United States will experience homelessness every year”
- SPACE FOR YOUR IDEAS: “In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. […] For most of my childhood, my father was one of these many homeless people. While growing up, I spent a large amount of my time living on the streets with him. I can tell you from my experiences that the process he went through every day in order to find food and shelter was one of the roughest “jobs” I have ever seen.”
- YOUR THESIS AND MAIN CLAIMS: “This is absolutely true, and I think you’ll find that homeless people are incredibly busy doing the most important job to all of us: surviving”