This extensive project assignment tries to get students to understand that composition is an ever-evolving process where we must understand our work within and in relation to ongoing conversations before we can develop a project. This assignment comes after a series of short assignments where we examined other texts for their use of genre and how they use that genre to convey their argument and messages. For this project, I ask students to mimic what they have examined but add their argument to the conversation.
For this project, I ask students to create a counter-claim of a text in the same genre of that text. (if they chose a photograph, for this assignment they will turn in photographs) I ask them to find a text that resonates with them. First, they must critically examine that text and find its arguments. Then, I ask them to point out rhetorical strategies that are salient to the text's genre and how those rhetorical strategies help enforce their argument. Then it’s their turn. I ask them to find a gap in their chosen text’s argument, or where they disagree and why. Then I ask them to use the text's techniques to construct a different argument.
For example, if a student really resonates with a film, a film noir. They can write out-- or think out-- what they think is the overall message of the film, and reflect on the moments in that film that makes them come to that conclusion. They go to those particular moments and examine the technique–– the eerie and suspenseful music, the dramatic shadows, the overdramatic action. Perhaps this scene is meant to convey that the main character is the suspect of a crime, but they aren’t convinced. They argue that the lighting isn’t dramatic enough and the acting is too dramatic. So, they create a scene using the techniques they argue would convey the message better.
Or say a student is interested in a NYT book review. Again, they can think about the rhetorical strategies the writer used, strategies that are particular to the book review genre. But perhaps they think the writer spends too much time summarizing the book. So they create a book review where they are using the techniques of the book review genre, but not spending too much time summarizing.
This assignment wants students to speak back to cultural texts. To do that, they would need to study the rhetorical situation of the text. And understand the creator's motives and why they needed to bring forth that argument into the world. Then, they can work within the genre to think about their own motives behind their arguments.