Conventional Wisodm


For your final essay, your job will be to revise the profile of a thing. The thing can be any object familiar to our society and used today, and may also be a familiar concept (as in our readings—a college education, personality tests, rom-coms, etc.). You will then construct an argument that revises the general, accepted understanding about that thing. In other words, you will make a claim about your subject that somehow unmakes its conventional wisdom.

Of course, I’ll expect you to dig deeper than a simple Wikipedia-entry understanding of this thing. Your essay should center on your revisionist argument, and not simply offer a chronology or report on this object’s history and evolution. Similarly, the paper should not make the topic a simple, one-sided reversal (this is not a “gotcha” paper). Your research and eventual argument should carry your reader further into the topic and allow for a richer, more complex departure from the conventional wisdom. In choosing the topic, also keep in mind that if you choose as your subject a thing about which a lot has been written (e.g., the smart phone), I’ll expect your research to reflect the very latest developments and offer a unique perspective.

And naturally, you will demonstrate mastery of all the techniques we’ve been examining this term: you will write a logical argument that persuades while avoiding fallacies and illustrating your clear understanding of the warrants underlining your claim. You will need to use outside research (especially when establishing your conventional wisdom), but how many and what kind of sources will depend on your argument. And you will write in concise, precise, forceful prose using MLA or APA style.

This paper is the closest thing we have to a final exam. I am as interested in your writing and arguing as I am in your ability to think critically and reason through an issue on a large scale. Establish your authority, contextualize your stand, and support your opinion with well-researched information. This is your chance to bring it all together and really shine. I look forward to reading your essays. Good luck!

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