Our first major paper (1500-2000 words) asks you to put your thinking about some aspect of your identity into conversation with other writers who also take up this topic. Your paper should incorporate at least three sources from your research and should thus include MLA or APA in-text citations and a Works Cited or Reference page as needed. In terms of the main goals of the paper, we want to reach a better understanding of what others have said about this aspect of identity, and we want to put our own thinking into conversation with theirs in order to generate new ideas and insights. The main substance of your paper will come from analyzing your sources as you did in the Public Analysis, and you are welcome to draw on that work here. You do not necessarily need to address each of your sources in great detail; you are welcome to focus on the aspects of these sources you find most relevant. It could also work to develop a thorough analysis of one or two sources while using the other sources as points of comparison. In addition to those analysis prompts from the Public Analysis, you should also address the following:
- How would you compare these sources in terms of their understanding of and approach to this aspect of identity? How are they similar and different? Where do they agree and disagree? To what extent do they share a similar orientation?
- Which source(s) do you find most helpful in coming to terms with this aspect of identity? Least helpful? How so?
- What do you want to add to the conversation? How does your understanding of this aspect of identity compare to what others have said? What has been left out of the conversation? What could be emphasized or developed further?
Through your work, you should arrive at a larger argument, conclusion, or insight about this aspect of identity and the conversation around it. Your argument should be supported by and emerge out of your analysis and comparison of the sources, and it should add to our thinking about the conversation, helping us see things in a new way. In terms of organization, your work can also go in a few different directions.
- The most straightforward (although perhaps less interesting) approach would be to go through this sort of progression: Introduction > Analysis of Source 1 > Analysis of Source 2 > Analysis of Source 3 > Comparison > Your perspective > Conclusion.
- Another possibility would involve identifying issues, concepts, or questions that appear across the sources and using these to structure your paper: Introduction > Issue 1 (drawing on multiple sources) > Issue 2 (drawing on multiple sources) > Issue 3 (drawing on multiple sources) > Issue 4 (drawing on multiple sources) > Comparison > Your perspective > Conclusion.
- Another possibility would involve foregrounding your argument or understanding throughout the paper. In this approach, each paragraph or section would be structured around your ideas, and you would incorporate the outside sources where relevant. You would thus be drawing on the sources to advance your own thinking rather than considering them separately.