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Connecting defines relationships. Connecting texts is a way of better understanding and interpreting texts by examining and interpreting an author’s argument in a piece of writing (or another text) and making connections between it and another unique text, joining them in conversation about a particular topic.
When making connections between the texts assigned for this and your other major projects, you might want to try a few different strategies:
Draw the connections. Start by listing the important terms, concepts, and ideas from each text on a sheet of paper. Once you’ve done that, you can literally draw lines between ideas that have some relation.
Use clustering. You might also try a technique called clustering (see example at the base of “The Writing Process: Organizing/Outlining.” Put the main concept of each text in a circle on a sheet of paper. Draw other circles containing related or subsidiary ideas and connect them with lines to the circles containing the main ideas of the texts. When you find ways to connect the branches of these separate groups, you’re locating relationships between the texts that you might want to pursue. Through figuring out exactly what these relationships are, you not only utilize critical thinking but also start the process of forming your own ideas, which you will express in your major projects for this class.
Ask questions. Think specifically about one text in terms of another. These questions will direct you to think about both texts, giving you an opportunity to use each assigned text to test the concepts and ideas of the other.
Identify key terms/concepts. As you read any text, try to identify its key terms and concepts; some of these will overlap the terms and concepts for other texts. These should help you see some of the more apparent connections (and perhaps lead you to consider those less obvious) between the assigned texts.
To make effective connections, one must have good critical reading skills and analysis abilities (see Chapter 1 (Links to an external site.) and Chapter 2 (Links to an external site.) of your course text). A textual analysis essentially “breaks down” a writer’s work into its parts and “examines” those parts to see what the whole text argues–or doesn’t argue–in the way the author seemingly intended. Textual analyses also draw conclusions based on both explicit and implicit meanings. Remember the questions to ask once you’ve completed each reading:
What is the larger conversation? Each of the texts assigned as possible sources for your projects is part of a larger discussion about an issue: ethics, climate change, food and agriculture, globalism, health, etc. Where do you see the author acknowledging, including, and joining that conversation? How do you imagine you might join it as well?
What other voices are in this conversation? Where does the author bring in other voices? How does the author use quotation? How might you use quotations from this author as you write about his or her text?
What counts as evidence for this author? Each discipline has a different standard for evidence, and the standards for evidence in academic and public writing differ as well. Does the author rely on anecdotes or statistics? Does the author use other credible sources? What sources should you use in your own writing?
How does the author acknowledge counterarguments? Why might an author make or avoid this move? When should you acknowledge opposing positions? How does the author acknowledge the audience? What sort of contextual information does the author provide? How does the style of writing reflect the needs of a particular audience?
Then make your connections. The major goals of this project are to clearly reflect your critical thinking process through analyzing texts (written and/or visual) and to make reasonable and informed connections between two of them. You are free to reference rhetorical elements, but don’t water down your paper by putting in too many ideas.
For this assignment, you will read, analyze, and connect two of the texts I’ve assigned concerning some aspect of food, choosing one text from each column. You should read the texts thoroughly, taking notes or annotating ideas on them. As you read—in fact, any time you read for this course—make use of the strategies you learned in Chapter 1 (Links to an external site.):
Establish your purpose for reading
Preview the text
Annotate while reading
Review once you’ve finished reading
As you annotate, highlight sections of the text that seem important, interesting, or confusing; write down questions that you have as you read; mark words that are unfamiliar to you; and mark key terms or main ideas.
Once you’ve read, annotated, and gotten to know a bit about the assigned texts, use the strategies you learned about the basics of textual analysis and the response assignments on the various texts and apply what you learned about textual analysis to make connections. The goal is for you to understand not only what each text says, but also how it might be connected to another.
Choose one text from each column
(I’ve requested a virtual discussion on the topic of “Consumption” based on your feedback. If that is scheduled and confirmed in time to be included as a “text” for this project, I will add it to one of the columns.)
from Silent Preview the documentSpringPreview the document by Rachel Carson “The Animals: Practicing Complexity”Preview the document by Michael Pollan
“The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq”Preview the document by Richard Manning “Consider the Lobster”Preview the document by David Foster Wallace
“The Uninhabitable Earth” (Links to an external site.) by David Wallace-Wells Food, Inc. (Links to an external site.)
A draft of your essay, with introduction, conclusion, transitions, examples from the texts (as quotes and paraphrases), and documentation will be due on March 11.
As you begin, here is a “checklist” of questions you may wish to consider about EACH text, courtesy of Everything’s an Argument by Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz (your final paper can’t possibly respond to all of these):
Who is the author? Where and when was the essay drafted?
What is the purpose of this argument? What does it hope to achieve?
Who is the audience for this argument? Who is ignored or excluded?
What appeals or techniques does the argument use – emotional, logical, ethical?
What type of argument is it, and how does the genre (essay, book, film) affect the argument?
Who is making the argument? What ethos does it create and how does it do so? What values does the ethos evoke? How does it make the writer or creator seem trustworthy
What authorities does the argument rely on or appeal to?
What facts, reasoning, and evidence are used in the argument? How are they presented?
What claims does the argument make? What issues are raised – or ignored or evaded?
What are the contexts – social, political, historical, cultural – for this argument? Whose interests does it serve? Who gains or loses by it?
How is the argument organized or arranged? What media does the argument use and how effectively?
How does the formality of language of the argument (or style, tone, word choice, sentence length, paragraph length and structure, documentation, use of questions, etc.) persuade an audience?
Is the argument likely to be effective?
Your final product must include examples (as quotes or paraphrases) from the texts, so you will need to understand the content. Before you draft, we’ll take a look at MLA format and citations.
You may or may not need to do some research about the authors of the texts and/or the publication venues. Indicate where this information comes from—cite it.
Over the next few weeks, you will have read your chosen texts forwards, backwards, and upside down. You will have made detailed observations about their arguments. Ultimately, you will analyze the texts for various arguments the authors are making and why. Identify the authors’ use of style, arrangement, visual components, tone, references/citations, word choice, etc., ultimately determining the authors’ effectiveness/ineffectiveness in making their arguments. Your focus is to analyze the texts and draw meaningful connections between them, NOT to agree or disagree with the authors. Be sure you can look at the works objectively; don’t allow your passions for the topic to prejudice your ability to analyze an author’s writing.
Consider YOUR audience. Because everyone is analyzing works from the same set of texts and because we are working on some specific concepts related to the course, your audience is me only (or rather, me as representative of college-level standards). If you were writing this paper in another context your audience would change. Your goals for this assignment are to show me your abilities in textual analysis and in clearly/accurately drawing connections between two texts.
Among other things, your Making Connections Project will need to:
Identify and briefly summarize the texts. The whole paper is NOT summary, but you need to include them. They should be no more than one paragraph in length and should be in or near the intro (i.e., first body paragraphs).
Identify the author. Who wrote the piece or who is taking responsibility for the message?
Identify other “important” information about the piece—when was it written, where was it drafted?
Identify and make connection(s) between your chosen texts – the next several bullets may or may not be part of making these connections.
Identify the purpose. What is the central goal of each text? What other goals might each author also have? How are the authors attempting to do this? Why are the authors attempting to do this? What might these goals do for the success/effectiveness of the argument?
Identify the major/main claims made in the essay. What other (smaller) claims are there? How do you know? What kind(s) of claim(s) are they?
What evidence/support is provided by each author to reinforce or “prove” their claim(s)?
What conclusion(s) is/are the audience supposed to reach? Are they likely to do this? Why or why not?
Use evidence and well-developed arguments to support your own connections. In other words, indicate what you’re “reading” from the texts and how you’ve come to your conclusions. Go beyond the surface answers of what might be obvious. Do a thorough, college-level analysis.
Overall Requirements (basic):
a suitable title that shows a connection
a suitable introduction that includes elements listed above
a summary of the texts and their main arguments
identified authors and titles of their works
a clear thesis that is not a mere statement of fact or summary but that indicates a connection
distinct paragraphs that support your thesis by developing relevant main points with evidence (this is NOT a 5-paragraph paper)
concrete examples, paraphrases, quotes from the texts
solid analysis that argues how and why the authors appear to be making the arguments/claims they are making
clear explanation of the connection(s) you’ve made
smooth transitions linking the ideas expressed in your sentences and paragraphs
a suitable conclusion that draws together the points made in the body of the work.
Works Cited (and in-text citations when using outside sources)
word count: min 750-1000 words (3-4 pages, double-spaced)