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Two major assignments comprise the research project: Part One: Contexts Project (CP) and Part Two: Advocacy Project (AP). This first assignment, the CP, asks you to (1) research and deploy various types of sources to describe, contextualize, and analyze a significant contemporary political/social/cultural problem as it relates to videogames; (2) summarize and evaluate conversations and debates happening between credible scholars, thinkers, and organizations about your topic.

Together, the actions above comprise expository writing—the guiding method of this project—which means simply that with this first composition you are attempting to describe your project’s central problem and explain its relevance by contextualizing it.

Some questions that might help to direct your research include

What harm does the problem cause to individuals, communities, institutions, and/or ecologies?

Why does the problem exist? When and how did it develop? Do any individuals, communities, or institutions benefit from it?

Who is paying attention to and writing or speaking about the problem among journalists, politicians, scholars, other researchers, activists, governmental agencies, and/or industries?

Why “contexts”?

An informed, authoritative writer understands their topic in context.

Context can be historical. Analyzing the past means grappling not simply with events, but with the issues and concerns of the time. It’s not enough to read a contemporary account of the past; we must also look at the work produced in the past—its political speeches, court decisions, and media. Therefore, one goal of this assignment is to learn about the historical contexts of your problem: the laws, legal precedents, and institutional practices that underlie its current form, and economic, social, political, and/or environmental trends that have shaped its development.

Context can also be rhetorical. We want to present the stakes that a given community has in the topic of our research, but we also want to interrogate the way those stakes get articulated by journalists, researchers, and politicians. Even within “scholarly writing,” you should become aware of how various communities (called disciplines) frame the same topic quite differently from one another. Identifying these relevant communities of thinkers and writers, analyzing their perspectives, and bringing their views together will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your problem, and the authority that understanding entails.

As you research for your CP, you will concurrently develop a Working Annotated Bibliography for your entire project that involves summarizing and analyzing individual sources (your instructor will provide you with separate instructions for this portion of the assignment).

By the time you complete the CP, you should be able to:

  • Develop effective research note-taking habits through source annotations.
  • Practice information literacy in the research process by locating and critically evaluating relevant and credible evidence from a variety of sources and genres.
  • Understand research as a part of the larger composition process of prewriting, drafting, and revision.
  • Collaborate with fellow researchers to give and receive constructive feedback on the work in progress.
  • Plan, draft and revise an essay with organization and style appropriate for addressing a general academic audience.
  • Arrange and integrate evidence—primary-source, secondary-source, and multimodal—intentionally, with particular attention to its argumentative purpose and rhetorical effect.
  • Integrate and cite evidence in a transparent and ethical manner, using a standard citation system. Learn how and why to avoid plagiarism and patch-writing.

Assignment Requirements

Process work is required to be eligible to submit a final draft for a grade. This may include but is not limited to topic development exercises, a proposal or prospectus, and multiple essay drafts. Late or incomplete process work may result in a grade penalty on the final draft.

The contextualizing in the CP must be supported by a broad and varied selection of research, including primary and secondary sources, scholarship, journalism, advertising, policy papers, reports, case law, and other sources as appropriate for your topic. While both you and your instructor will work to determine an appropriate scope and variety of research for your essay, at a minimum it should draw evidence from 6-8 sources, including TWO scholars in conversation. Keep in mind that the total number of sources for the entire project’s bibliography is 15-20 sources.

Your final submission for Part One should be a 1700-2000 word multimodal (Links to an external site.) composition. It should be formatted in MLA style (Links to an external site.), with parenthetical citations, a Works Cited page, and a descriptive academic title.

You may be asking yourself (and you should ask your teacher), “What is a composition and what does it mean if it’s multi-modal?” In your case, you will locate at least two pieces of evidence, one from the present that helps you define the problem you are exploring and one from the past that deciphers this problem’s historical context. And then you will use credible sources to describe for your readers how these distinct pieces of evidence work together to explain the viability of the contemporary problem.

Final & Graded Submission

(Written portion: 1700 minimum, multimodal, including notes and in-text citations but not bibliography.)

What is a “Key Piece of Evidence” for the CP?

-Key Evidence (Present): It can be a table of data, an image or a series of images or an incident. It is something, a primary source for example, that clearly articulates the cultural, political, and social problem that is the focus of your project.

-How do you locate your evidence?

Any social, cultural, or political problem that demands the attention of scholars, intellectuals, thinktanks and advocacy organizations will be defined by and grounded in evidence, and these pieces of evidence are what you are trying to find. What sorts of evidence do your scholarly and credible resources use to substantiate their arguments?

-Key Evidence (Past): Like your evidence from the present, your historical artifact(s) can be a compilation of statistics in a table or a graph, an image, an incident, ideas and arguments from primary sources, stories, and various art forms. You can use credible sources to locate your historical “artifacts,” and in selecting them think and write about how the historical evidence speaks to your central problem in the present. Try to describe how your historical pieces reside in the past, summarize how they speak to your contemporary evidence, and explain how the historical dialogue between these two pieces or bodies of evidence connects the present with the past. The historical space between them, which documents historical changes, will enable you to articulate clearly the importance of your central problem in the present.

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