Paper 1

This 6-8 page paper (double-spaced, 1″ margins, 12 pt font) asks you to map the conversation surrounding a specific controversy. Through your paper, we should get a sense for the main positions that people take in response to this issue and how they fit together to form a larger conversation. You should substantially incorporate at least three sources (although you will likely include more).


You should begin by introducing the issue and offering an overview that articulates how you will frame the conversation. (Remember our discussion of introduction strategies here: you might begin with a focusing incident, an exemplary source, a historical overview, or a conceptual overview.) The rest of your paper should include three main components: conceptual summaries of specific arguments (think of our Research Summaries here), an analysis of the conversation, and your argument in response to it. You could summarize different arguments and parts of the conversation first and then move on to a section of analysis, or you could offer analysis along the way. Either way, it will help to have an organizational strategy, most likely based around stasis theory, kairos (events and contexts), or stakeholders.

Again, when you summarize specific arguments and sources, you should aim to note the main claim, supporting reasons and evidence, and any counter-arguments addressed. For the analysis of the conversation, we want to get a sense for the similarities and differences between arguments, points of intersection and divergence, core dividing issues, gaps or impasses, etc. The main question here is, what do we learn by looking at the conversation overall?

Further questions for analysis:

  • Drawing on stasis theory, do these articles make the same or different types of arguments? For those people making the same type of argument, how are their arguments similar or different?
  • Are there certain things that everyone agrees on? Are there certain things that people tend to disagree about?
  • What sort of assumptions or beliefs are leading people to make different sorts of arguments?
  • How would you characterize the reasons and evidence that people draw on? Is there any correlation between the type of reasons and evidence people offer and the arguments they make?
  • How does context shape the arguments that people make?
  • Do people seem to be talking to one another or talking past one another?

Finally, your paper should make two different sorts of arguments. First, you should offer an argument as to how we can best make sense of the conversation (i.e., “This issue really comes down to how people define X, as this shapes what policies they work toward;” “The debate mainly occurs between stakeholder X and stakeholder Y and their disagreement over the question of Z”). You should also make a further argument about how to resolve the conversation, about which position is most reasonable or helpful, or something else along these lines. Stasis theory can be helpful here as well: you can make a causal argument, a definition argument, an evaluation argument, or a policy argument.


You will submit three versions of this paper: a peer review draft, 1.1, and 1.2. The peer review draft is mandatory, but it will not be graded. The next two submissions will be graded according to the following criteria (although 1.1 will just be an advisory grade and will not count toward your final average):

“C” paper:

Fulfills the assignment, though there may be some flaws or limitations in terms of general conception, analysis, argument, organization, or thoroughness. Is written in a mostly clear and readable style, though the style may have minor flaws (in terms of grammatical correctness, clarity, or appropriateness) that do not significantly impede readability.

“B” paper:

Fulfills the assignment well, with few flaws or limitations. Presents a thorough analysis of the conversation and a well supported argument. Is written in a clear, effective, and appropriate style, with few to no errors.

“A” paper:

Fulfills the assignment with distinction. Presents a detailed, nuanced, and sophisticated analysis of the conversation and a convincing argument. Is written in a style that is vivid, voiced, and distinctive, with few to no errors.

“D” paper:

Makes a good-faith effort but falls short of the assignment. Lacks a clear or adequately developed analysis of the conversation. Style is significantly flawed (in terms of grammatical correctness, clarity, or appropriateness) in ways that impede readability. Fails to meet the length requirement; or is not properly formatted.

“F” paper:

Fails to address the assignment, or, severely violates basic norms of civility or decency.

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