Upper Level Academic Argumentation

English 225: Understanding and Making Arguments About Food

I designed this course to help students think critically about arguments they encounter most often in popular media—arguments about food issues in a variety of disciplines including sociological, nutritional, and environmental arguments. Because students encounter so many different and often conflicting arguments about food in their day-to-day lives, this assignment sequence begins with an Argument of Definition, allowing for students to better understand and interrogate key terms used in ongoing conversations about food issues. This first assignment encourages students to enter a discourse about a particular topic by using research as evidence to ground and support their arguments. Building from this introduction to evidence based arguments, students compose an Annotated Bibliography—finding, summarizing, and analyzing sources about a particular topic; this Annotated Bibliography assignment is meant to support students’ development of information literacies and to show them that conducting research can help to construct arguments, not only support preconceived arguments.

Students then makes use of these sources in their Researched Academic Argument assignment, in which they construct an argument, provide evidence, introduce a counterargument, and make a rebuttal. By composing a Researched Academic Argument, students learn to leverage research and writing strategies to construct the nuance and complexity that academic arguments require. Importantly, students often choose to compose an argument that is either personally relevant to their experiences or prevalent in their chosen disciplines and fields of study. Throughout this course, students also compose online multimodal blog posts; because students encounter so many multimodal and multimedia arguments about food—online, on tv, in print, and in audio formats—this series of short blog posts allows for students to both analyze these prolific media about food and to construct their own arguments using a variety of modes and media. In keeping with these goals, students compose a final Re-mediation assignment, in which they revise, remix, and remediate a prior argument they have made in the course. This final assignment allows for students to reflect on their learning in the course and to make new meaning using a combination of modes and media.