English 101 Home Page

Unit Projects

Unit 1 Generation Paper

For this first paper, you will explore issues, ideas, treatments of your generation, calling up what you know, intuit, believe about your generation and using research, conversation, analysis, interpretation, etc to discuss it. Don't think of this as a "My generation is..." type of paper; instead, try to find a way to explore issues that are important to you personally. To get started, we'll meet in groups to discuss things like music, television shows, magazines, movies, and the themes that come up in these that relate to how your generation is perceived or constructed by the media, what values, characteristics, qualities are reflected in these movies etc, & where you agree and/or disagree with these portrails. You should also consider important events that shaped your generation and the way your generation views the world as a result of these events.

For example, I would say that my own cynicism is perhaps the result of being called into a school assembly to watch Richard Nixon resign on television. You will want to avoid simple stereotypes, blanket statements, and generalizations about your generation; indeed, it would be very difficult to find one characteristic that is common to everyone in your generation. We will do a lot of group work, peer work, brainstorming, conversing, internet conferencing about these papers, and you should look to these activities as just another kind of serious research and scholarship that writers engage in as they draft their papers. While we are working within one general (and quite large) topic for these papers, you will each approach your specific topic in a specific and individualized way. In other words, no two papers in the class will cover exactly the same material in exactly the same way. While you are free to pursue your own take on this general topic, and I encourage you to write about something that really interests you, you may choose another topic that interests you more. With each paper we write in the class, you will have this option.

We will discuss audience with this unit, and also kairos (the opportune moment) and how this Greek-to-me term can be used to get your audience interested in your ideas.

Unit 2 Observation Paper

It's time to test your theories. You have now attempted to define, describe, and, possibly, defend your generation. Spend tomorrow looking over the things you have written about your generation and come up with an experiment you can do or an observation cycle that will prove this hypothesis of yours is "true." For example, I have occasionally (and informally) observed that people from my mother's generation are generally well mannered and polite. If I wished to prove this, I might go someplace where senior citizens meet and observe how often they hold the door for one another. Your observation will be more formal, and it should be conducted for more than just a few minutes with a few subjects. In fact, I encourage you to keep track of the times you observed a particular behavior, and the number of subjects you observed. Write upthe basics of your observation method for Friday's class. You will meet in groups to discuss your ideas and approaches, and then you will write up a more formal observation proposal that will be due on Wednesday.

With this paper we will continue our discussion of audience and add another Greek-to-me term, logos, discussing how research and analysis may be used to inform your papers.

Unit 3 Ethnography

Your job will be to "define," describe and analyze a subculture. Pick a subculture that is foreign to you, but one that you have some interest in researching. I have listed some examples below, but I will also give you some group time to brainstorm some possible ideas.

Your assignment is to observe this subculture, interact with it as much as possible, and interview (casually or formally) a member of this subculture. You will have to ask a series of questions during this interview in order to ascertain how one becomes a member of this subculture (what does it take to belong officially or unofficially to this group?).

You should also consider this subculture's artifacts and symbols (remember the ways these things played into your generation papers?). What role do these objects play? What, for example, is the significance of Pokemon cards in preschool and grammar school? Why do football fans paint their faces or wave those giant sponge fingers? What is the significance of the environment where they meet? How often do they meet? What do they seem to value the most in others? What is their language like? What verbal clues do they, like, use to, like totally, like, set themselves apart from, like, everyone else? What about body language and clothes?

Obsessive note taking is the way to go here. The more observations you document, the better your understanding of this subculture, so don't expect to get away with observing from afar for 10 minutes and then making the rest up. I will have no trouble distinguishing between an analysis written by a dedicated and scrupulous observer and one composed by a slacker. I will know if you are working from observation or from generalizations you already make about this group.

You will then write a 5-7 page paper analyzing this subculture and attempting to "define" it as an objective observer.

Pick a place where you will be a stranger in a wholly unknown environment. Be polite and respectful in that environment (and some of you may need to get permission to go to where this subculture congregates). After you have observed these people, begin to interact with them as much as possible. You will invariably have to spread your observation and interaction out over a period of several visits in order to give a fair and accurate analysis of the environment, language, artifacts, social cues, and rituals of this subculture. Then you will interview someone who is a member (officially or unofficially) of this group.

These examples should clarify the instructions above.

You could observe a Line dancing bar** PTA meeting** Sport's rally** Frat party**
Fashion show** Monster truck rally** Hockey game** Quilting class** Day Care or
Nursery School** Catholic Mass (or any other religious ceremony that you have never
been to before)** Science club meeting** Theater club meeting**

Be careful. Do not put yourself into any situation where you might get hurt. You are not getting paid for this assignment and it will not advance your career: do not, for example, go to a biker bar in drag. Do not attempt to hang out with the local gang or with a drug lord. You are not an ATF agent attempting to infiltrate the local militia.

Check the syllabus for the dates of the peer reviews and make sure you have a revised draft for each peer review! This is a process class and you are graded on how much effort you put into the process, so don't assume that you can hand in the same draft for the second peer review as you did for the first.

With this paper, your choice of audience will also be of the utmost importance (should you address your ethnography to the culture you study, who wants to know about this culture, what do they want to know, and why do they want to know it). We will also talk about ethos and pathos. Ethos (situated and invented) is your authority as a writer/researcher, and you will need to make some very specific rhetorical moves to illustrate your authority to write on your subculture. The word ethics comes from the word ethos, and they are, indeed, closely related; in other words, you will want to deal ethically with your depiction and anlysis of the subculture you write about, and you will want your reader to know that you are doing this. Pathos is the emotional appeal you make to your reader, and it might have a role in this paper (for example in your narratives of interactions with the subculture) as well.

Unit 4 Pop Culture--ZINES

Please visit our Internet Classroom for a more detailed description of this unit and for some links and invention questions to help you get started. You will be asked to illustrate your knowledge of some of the conventions of academic discourse by essentially violating those conventions (as you see fit) in order to construct a forum for the expression of alternative discourses. You will understand better what I mean as we begin to discuss the discourse etiquette conventions of alternative, underground, "zine" publishing and as you begin to construct your own zines according to those conventions and ones you establish for your particular publication (purpose, audience, content, production, and context for your own work). This unit will (I hope) act as a bridge between the more formal types of essays you have written (and their more formal audiences) and the global revisions you will need to make to revise those essays for different audiences, purposes, and forums in the next unit. Simply put, I will ask you to theorize, analyze, explain the reasons why people write in particular ways to particular audiences for particular reasons in particular publications (whew) in the next unit: you will need to do this so that you can make the global revisions to your papers that will make them "fit" with the forums you choose.

I should point out that I "borrowed" this unit idea from Michael Martin, a graduate student and my program assistant, and he will visit our class to discuss zines in more detail and to answer any questions you might have. I should also point out that as far as I know, this kind of project has not been "assigned" in 101 classes-- in fact, Mike uses zines in his advanced exposition class (EN 246)--so I will be interested to find out what you think of the project, if you think it provided a bridge into discussions of forum conventions (written discourse conventions of different publications) or if it was unhelpful.

Unit 5 Revising for Audience

You did a forum analysis of sorts when your group analyzed a magazine and each of you wrote an article for the magazine you analyzed. This unit project will ask you to do that kind of work again, applying the rules of the forum to the papers you have already written this semester. Remember your zine-writing experience: you are not simply writing a better draft of your original essay; you are completely re-visioning that essay by following the specific discourse conventions of the publication you choose as a forum for your essay.

To get started with this revision unit, do the following.

  • Look over the magazine, newspaper, newsletter, etc
  • Identify the forum by name and organizational affiliation.
  • Is there an expressed editorial policy, philosophy, or expression of belief?
  • What purpose does the forum serve? Why does it exist?
  • How large is the forum? Who are its members/readers? Its leaders (or people it values)?
  • What kind of people speak/write in this forum? What are their credentials? Academic or professional backgrounds?
  • Who are the most important figures in this forum?
  • What are the characteristics of the assumed audience?

When you have answered these basic questions, analyze the discourse of the forum Remember the rhetorical terms we have discussed this semester, and relate them to the forum you have chosen for your work: ethos, pathos, logos, kairos

Unit 6 University Writing Exam

Take the Practice UWE in Class
What is your ethos as an exam-taker, what assumptions might the graders make about your writing, what is the rhetorical situation here--why are you writing, and how can you use your time most rhetorically effectively

Unit 7 Portfolio Analysis

This is the final paper, and it is meant to be a testament to the work you have done and the progress you have made this semester.

  • Look back over your first drafts, peer reviews, revisions, process drafts, and paper reflections and look at what changes you made. Think about why you made those changes.
  • Look at the audience analysis and paper revisions you did this semester and think about the changes you made and why you made those.
  • Think about the people you worked with (in and out of class) when you wrote these papers. How did working collaboratively help or hinder your writing?
  • Look over the online class schedule and think about how far you have come this semester and how much work you have done.
  • Look at your favorite papers from this class. Why are they your favorite? What do they illustrate about you and about your writing (skill, style, voice)?
  • Think about the day-to-day work you did in this class and out of this classroom: hours upon hours gazing glossy-eyed into a computer screen. What was it all good for?
  • Think about the things we did in class that were confusing, frustrating, maddening, and annoying. Anything you would change about the class? Why?
  • Give examples from your own work to illustrate the changes you have made this semester.
  • Look at the enormous amount of work you did this semester, and smile because it's almost over!


Creative Commons License
These course materials
are licensed by Lori Ostergaard under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.