I teach that composing is an ever-evolving process where we must understand our work within and in relation to an ongoing discussion before we can develop a line of inquiry where they will create a strategic, stakes driven argument that rhetorically adds to the discussion that the future scholar wishes to enter into. My first major project assignment is after a series of short assignments where we examined other texts for different reason— for intertextuality, genre analyses, etc. For this major project, I asked them to create a counter-narrative of a text in the same genre. That is, I asked them to find an argument in a text and argue back to that text using the original creator’s conventions while making deliberate deviations.
This was an assignment that was a culmination of the prior lessons we learned: how texts produce influential arguments through the use of intertextuality and genre conventions. They were to recognize how their chosen text uses the convention of multiple genres to make a specific argument and then follow suit to make a counter-argument.
I left the assignment open, allowing students to research and follow any convention that most interest them, as well as find the genre that is most effective for the rhetorical situation of their counterclaim. Many students use this opportunity to recognize the effects of rhetorical strategies in a particular genre (and subgenre even) and use such strategies against the original composer to create a completely different argument that responds to a different (and in some cases the same) rhetorical situation, many of my students used the open opportunity to submit work that used the exact same rhetorical strategies that approached the same end as the original texts or even emulated the original texts altogether.
This assignment wants students to speak back to a cultural text. To do that, they would need to study the rhetorical situation of the text. I recommend students to find a text that they feel offended by or think it inaccurate or wrong. Examine how it uses its power (rhetoric) to advance an inaccurate claim. Then consider what it could/ should have done differently to ethically advance the same claim or a different one entirely.