Assignments Dr. Shawn M. Higgins

(Last updated 15 December 2016)

Annotated Bibliography

(For ENGL 112 courses)

Length/Source Requirement (all-in): 950-1050 words, 10 texts

Primary Learning Outcomes: D) Organize and evaluate information, H) Plan out writing as part of a cycle, K) Integrate research correctly and ethically

[From Andrea Lunsford's The Everyday Writer (6th ed., 2016) p.165-166]

Annotating sources helps you understand and remember the information in a text. Typically, this can be accomplished in 50-100 words. Some annotated bibliographies can go beyond a summary of the main points in a source to examine research methods, evaluate the credibility of the source, reflect on its usefulness for a particular project, and more. You might include new vocabulary and potential quotations from the source as part of a reflective annotated bibliography. Annotations that go beyond summaries can help you think critically about your sources and their place in your overall research. What kind of annotations will be most useful for your annotated bibliography?

Here is an example of an MLA-style citation and annotation for a printed text:

Diamond, Edwin, and Stephen Bates. The Spot: The Rise of Political Advertising on Television. 3rd ed. MIT P, 1992.

Diamond and Bates illustrate the impact of television on political strategy and discourse. The two argue that Lyndon Johnson's "Daisy Girl" ad succeeded by exploiting the nascent television medium, using violent images and sounds and the words "nuclear bomb" to sway the audience's emotions. Emphasizing Johnson's direct control over the production of the ad, the authors illustrate the crucial role the ad played in portraying Goldwater as a warmonger.

Culinary Counterpart Report

(For ENGL/HUMA 189 courses)

Length/Source Requirement (all-in): 950 - 1,050 words, 3-6 presentation slides, 3+ texts

Primary Learning Outcomes: B) Examine cultural identity and impact, C) Compare cultural knowledge to increase intercultural awareness, D) Identify value systems, E) Consider civic discourse on both local and global scales, F) Evaluate personal and social justice issues as they relate to specific contexts, G) Reflect on possible solutions that result in fair and just relationships between individuals and the society in which they live and participate, I) Articulate how beliefs, perceptions, and values are influenced by factors such as politics, geography, economics, culture, biology, history, and social institutions in the context of the self, society, and the cultural and physical environments that humans find themselves

In the introduction to Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (2013), Robert Ji-Song Ku, Martin Manalansan IV, and Anita Mannur remind us that the tendency to "define a person or a group of people principally by the food they eat is [...] to uncritically and narrowly essentialize them through the corporeal terms of gustation and digestion. Also, those marked in such a way come to embody the foods and the corresponding values and meanings attached to them" (2). These authors contend that food is intimately connected to history, culture, and community, and that culinary traditions are often located in the conjunctures of racial, gendered, sexualized, and classed hierarchies (5-6).

For this project, you will identify a particular food/drink item, brand, preparation, technique, utensil, or cultural perception, and then compare the American and Japanese counterparts. Examples include sushi, McDonalds, rice cookers, barbecues, thoughts on fermented products, etc.

This examination of culinary counterparts is meant to serve as a reflective project. As Merry White and Sylvan Barnet in Comparing Cultures: Readings on Contemporary Japan for American Writers (1995) tell us, when reporting our cultural observations, "we try to mirror the original accurately, but in fact most of us observe, or 'mirror,' from a distorting angle. Understanding the angle is an important part of observing" (3). Correspondingly, it should be your primary goal to reflectively approach both American and Japanese culinary products and critically examine them for similarities, differences, and convergences.

Ethnographic Study Project

(For ENGL/HUMA 189 courses)

Length/Source Requirement (all-in): 1,425 - 1,575 words, 4 texts

Primary Learning Outcomes: B) Examine cultural identity and impact, C) Compare cultural knowledge to increase intercultural awareness, D) Identify value systems, E) Consider civic discourse on both local and global scales, F) Evaluate personal and social justice issues as they relate to specific contexts, G) Reflect on possible solutions that result in fair and just relationships between individuals and the society in which they live and participate, I) Articulate how beliefs, perceptions, and values are influenced by factors such as politics, geography, economics, culture, biology, history, and social institutions in the context of the self, society, and the cultural and physical environments that humans find themselves

[From Andrea Lunsford's The Everyday Writer (6th ed., 2016) p.216-219]

Ethnography shares with the humanities an interest in what it means to be human. However, ethnography also shared with the sciences the goal of engaging in a systematic, observable study of human behavior. When you write an ethnographic study project, you will attempt to identify, understand, and explain patterns of human behavior. This involves asking questions and analyzing and interpreting what you read. Sources might be academic papers that set forth theoretical premises or overall theories, case studies that describe particular cases and draw out inferences and implications from them, or research reports that present the results of an investigation into an important question in the field.

Most of what you read will try to prove a point, and you will need to evaluate how well that particular point is supported. Ethnography involves a mix of qualitative and quantitative studies. Qualitative studies rely on non-numerical methods such as interviews and observations to reveal social patterns, such as a study of the way children in one kindergarten class develop rules of play. Quantitative studies collect data represented with numerical measurements that are drawn from surveys, polls, experiments, and tests, such as a study of voting patterns in southern states. It's important to recognize that both qualitative and quantitative studies have points of view, and that researchers' opinions influence everything from the hypothesis and the design of the research study to the interpretation of the findings. Readers must consider whether the researchers' views are sensible and solidly supported by evidence, and they must pay close attention to the kind of data the writer is using and what those data can -- and cannot -- prove. For example, if researchers of childhood aggression define aggression in a way that readers find unpersuasive, or if they observe behaviors that readers consider playful rather than aggressive, then the readers will likely not accept their interpretation of the findings.

Innovation Report

(For ENGL/HUMA 189 courses)

Length/Source Requirements (all-in): 950 - 1,050 words, 3-6 presentation slides, 3+ texts (1 product advertisement, 1 spec sheet for that product, 1 spec sheet for a competitor)

Primary Learning Outcomes: B) Examine cultural identity and impact, C) Compare cultural knowledge to increase intercultural awareness, D) Identify value systems, E) Consider civic discourse on both local and global scales, F) Evaluate personal and social justice issues as they relate to specific contexts, G) Reflect on possible solutions that result in fair and just relationships between individuals and the society in which they live and participate, I) Articulate how beliefs, perceptions, and values are influenced by factors such as politics, geography, economics, culture, biology, history, and social institutions in the context of the self, society, and the cultural and physical environments that humans find themselves

In Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman (2nd ed., 2013), Paul du Gay, Stuart Hall, and others refer to cultures of production and contexts of innovation. In the United States, companies such as Apple, Tesla, and American Apparel might come to mind for their innovative approaches to design, production, and advertisement. Throughout the world, Sony has grown such an image for itself -- Sony represents itself as a distinctive, idiosyncratic, and unique company. Gay and Hall argue that such representations "are an integral part of the company's attempt to create and maintain a distinct organizational culture. They are also part of how the company sells its uniqueness to collaborators, investors and consumers" (39). However, we should consider the distinctive characteristics of a company's culture of production, including who established the company, the company's relationship to the world, and the company's 'Japanese' characteristics. For some, the Sony Walkman was quintessentially Japanese due to its small size and other aesthetic characteristics. For other commentators, it was but the latest in a series of similar sound technologies that appeared from companies in Europe, the United States, and Japan.

For this project, you must find an advertisement for a Japanese product and you must analyze it for the rhetoric written around its culture of production and innovation. This discussion should include a comparisons of specs against contemporary competitors.

Researched Project

(For ENGL 112 courses)

Length/Source Requirement (all-in): 2,150 - 2,350 words, 7 texts

Primary Learning Objectives: B) Define problems, C) Examine claims and evidence, E) Persuade, inform, and/or engage through rhetorical strategies in writing and speaking, F) Tactically craft grammatical, syntactical, and dialectical structures, G) Analyze an audience for situation, purpose, and point of view, J) Revise compositions with specific improvements, K) Integrate research correctly and ethically, L) Engage in reasoned civil discourse while recognizing the distinctions among opinions, facts, and inferences

[From Andrea Lunsford's The Everyday Writer (6th ed., 2016) p.168-198]

Crafting a researched project in composition courses involves many steps.

  1. Formulating a research question.
  2. Reading critically for an author/text's stance/tone, understanding the purpose of sources, interpreting and evaluating a source's usefulness, and judging the credibility of the author/argument/evidence.
  3. Synthesizing sources by finding patterns and combining ideas.
  4. Refining your writing plans in terms of an explicit thesis, questions to test your thesis, design plans, subject organization, working titles, and section organization.
  5. Effectively integrating sources into your own writing in the form of quotes, paraphrasing, and summaries.

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Shawn Higgins
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