Your Task: By now, you have defined and narrowed your particular research question, located strong sources on your issue, developed a solid academic argument on the issue. Your purpose for this multimodal assignment is to first research a specific public audience and genre for your project. Thereafter, you will develop a project that engages this public audience by presenting your issue in a way that highlights its importance, your stance on the issue, and the action that you want your audience to take on the issue.
You will need to think through the following elements of your rhetorical situation:
- An Audience that has the potential to take the action you deem necessary on your issue.
- A Purpose or specific action that you would like to see taken on your issue.
- A compelling Context for your issue that will enable readers to understand the social importance of your argument.
- Rhetorical Strategies that will move your audience to take up your call for action.
- A Genre of writing (multi-modal) that will fulfill your purpose and move your specific audience.
Multi-Modal: Multi-modal genres are genres that blend text, images, and elements of visual design to persuade readers. The choice of Genre is up to you, and you will locate potential genres through your research into groups who are advocating or arguing about your issue. There are many examples of these genres, and we will be looking at several in class. A very short and incomplete set of examples would include: Power Point Slidecasts, Prezi, Basic Websites or a Video along with an informational flyer.
Basic Genre Requirements:
- You must utilize a genre that blends images, visual design, and text, or a multi-modal genre.
- You must have a minimum of 900 words of text in addition to your visual images.
- You must cite all of the images that you utilize from web sources.
- You must utilize a minimum of four sources to support your argument.
- You may use multiple genres to fulfill these requirements, such as a visual presentation that is followed by a flyer or informative poster.
Argumentation: To persuade your audience, you will need an argumentative thesis that takes a clear stance or position on the issue and defends and supports this thesis throughout your project. Your job is to advance your audienceâ€™s understanding of the issue, move them to action, and/or change their attitude about how they should approach or understand the issue. Different genres will have different ways of communicating their thesis, so you will want to analyze samples of the genres you choose very carefully. Despite differences in genre, however, your audience will require good reasons to support your argument and that will read your argument with a critical but engaged perspective.
Locating Images for Your Project: While it is possible to pull images from the web and copy and paste them into your project, doing so violates copyright law. You could, of course, write for permission to use the image, but this takes far too much time.
Most of these images are available for you to use in your projects, but you still need to cite them. We will go over creative commons licensing and citation in class.
Visual Design: As we will learn in class, there are several elements to effective visual design, and I will be asking you to focus on the most important of these as you develop your Public Argument.
Your Public Argument will need to possess a strong degree of:
- Visual Function: A clear purpose for the text and design elements in your project. Each element will need to be â€œfunctionalâ€ rather than ornamental.
- Visual Impact: visual images work with the text to create a persuasive overall effect, one that engages the viewer/reader and moves them to consider the argument.
- Visual Coherence: clear and coherent connections between the visual elements of the text are connected by color, framing, font, shape, etc.
- Visual Organization: visuals and text are arranged in a way that makes them easy for viewers/readers to comprehend.
Developing a Successful Argument: The location of your thesis, the shape of your paragraphs, and other elements of your essay will vary based upon the genre that you choose and the audience you are trying to persuade.
There are still a few rules of thumb that apply.
Introductory Elements: Whether a Presentation or Website, the key is to engage your audience and show them your issueâ€™s importance. Both the visual and textual elements of your project will need to â€œhookâ€ your reader and provide necessary background. Your audience may not know the context of your issue or how the debate has taken place and the different positions on the issue. In addition, you will want to develop your purpose by pointing your audience to the action that you want them to take.
Thesis: While the location of the thesis will vary in different genres, you will want to develop a thesis that clearly maps out your claim about the issue, supports this claim with reason(s) and evidence. Your claim, reason, and evidence will need to be appropriate to your audience and genre. In addition, you will want to lead up to your thesis in a way that shows how your claim connects to the context or ongoing discussion of the issue.
Body: The body of your projectâ€”where you place and introduce key ideasâ€”will also depend upon the genre or medium you use. One way to think of yourself here is as if you were a lawyer marshalling evidence for their case. Each major idea that you present will need to be stated and introduced clearly and specifically, with visual elements to support it as needed. In addition, you will need to draw heavily on your research for Illustrations that support each argument you present. The key here is to translate this research into language that is appropriate for your audience. You will also want to cite all of your sources, including the images that you utilize.
Rebuttal Arguments: In addition to the elements above, you will need to develop one or two significant rebuttal arguments to your position. This means that you will want to locate a one or two positions that are most likely to disagree with your own and explain to your readers why these arguments do not refute your position, or why they should still accept your argument despite these rebuttals.
Conclusion: The conclusions to Public Arguments are crucial, as they are often the place where the author spells out the implications of their arguments. This means that the author connects the argument to the world of the reader, informing them of the applications of the arguments for their own lives or perspectives. I encourage you to trace out the action that you would like to see your audience take on the issue here. Help your readers understand how they should act on the information that you give them and how the effects of their action or inaction might impact the issue.