English 1130: Academic Writing

Schedule: Week 11-14

WEEK 11: Research & PEER EDIT (2%)  

Reading: CP “Back to the Future” (Greenfield). Do you agree with Greenfield? We'll work in small groups evaluating Greenfield’s argument, narrowing topics, and constructing arguments — especially by considering counter-arguments and by developing comparative contexts. We’ll also take a quick look at “The Juggler’s Brain” (CP), which is a good chapter to read if you’re writing your final paper on the cognitive effects of the Net.

PEER EDIT (2%) on a scratch outline of your research paper (100-word minimum). Outlines that aren’t typed or aren’t in the right format will be docked 1/2 of the mark (i.e. from 3 / 4 to 1 / 4). Don't, for instance, use a thesis statement that's longer than one sentence. Half of the mark will be docked if you arrive late, don’t stay for the entire class, or don’t participate constructively. I’ll use the following marking scheme:

0% or 0 / 4: absent from class; almost no content; ungrammatical, chaotic, etc.

25% or 1 / 4: only the most basic ideas; poor grammar, awkward sentence structure, etc.

50% or 2 / 4: fairly good ideas but slightly off topic or not well thought through; some problems with grammar and expression

75% or 3 / 4: good ideas, on topic, fairly strong line of argument; well expressed and clear

100% or 4 / 4: original, insightful, and rigorous argument; strategically and smoothly written

Make sure that your topic can clearly be derived from one of the topics listed below under Week 14. You'll also find detailed instructions for the research paper under Week 14, right before the topics themselves. In Research you'll find the following sub-sections: "Evaluation & Research," "Things to Remember for Essay #3," "Documentation," "Non-Scholarly Sources," and "Scholarly Sources." The sub-section, "Things to Remember for Essay #3," is particularly important as it contains general guidelines for your research paper. For examples of outlines, see "Target Audience" (Lord of War), "Turning the Tables" (Gandhi), and "Army Boots and Romans: Atwood’s Flawed Comparisons" (Canadians: What Do They Want?").

In the peer edits, you’ll work in groups of 2-4, helping each other to do the following:

— Make a strong thesis statement  

Thesis statements need to be clear (terms, wording, ideas, etc.), focused (not too wide, not too narrow -- think Goldilocks!), constitute an argument (Is there a counter-argument to your argument, or is your argument rigorous and original?), and link clearly to the topic sentences.

— Make strong topic sentences

Topic sentences need to link to, and expand on, your thesis statement, progress logically from one t.s. to the next, and reflect the main contents of the paragraphs. Be prepared to explain — and defend — your point-form ideas.

— Strengthen the body of the essay in terms of

- clarity - Are some points obscure or confusing? Do some points need more explanation or illustration? Is there any repetition or unnecessary content?

logical development - Does one idea lead to the next? Is there a more logical or helpful way to arrange the material?

balanced tone and supporting evidence - Is the tone balanced or does the writer seem to have an ax to grind? Do you need more studies, statistics, expert opinion, etc.? Do more angles need to be explored?

consideration of contrary arguments - What ideas work against the argument? How could these ideas be incorporated into the essay? Should the writer deal with contrary arguments as they crop up or should the writer structure the overall argument against a main counter-argument?

When you have exhausted the perspectives of your group, create a new group — of whatever size is convenient. By the end of class, you should have talked to every student in the class. Please come to me individually so I can give comments and a mark.

WEEK 12: Peer edit (4%)

PEER EDIT (4%) on a full outline of your research paper (250 word minimum). Your outline can be longer if you like. Put in bold your thesis statement and your topic sentences.

When you get your essay back, you may need to consult Marking, which contains a list of marking abbreviations.

WEEK 13: Peer edit (4%)

PEER EDIT (4%) on a minimum 700-word draft of your research paper (700 word minimum). Put the thesis statement and the topic sentences in bold. You don’t need to have an introduction or conclusion at this point.

You must also bring in the equivalent of two scholarly sources. These must be hard copy and a minimum of six pages each. They must be clearly relevant to your thesis, yet they don’t necessarily have to be Internet-derived; they could be books, print journals, studies, etc. If you bring in a book, you don’t need to bring in copies of the pages. You can also bring in Internet sources that aren't journals but are authoritative and contain scholarly documentation in the form of a bibliography and footnotes or endnotes. 

WEEK 14: Research Essay (25%)

Due Tuesday December 3, 8:30 PM for both Tuesday and Wednesday classes.

I’ll be in my office on Tuesday December 3, from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

For general essay instructions, see Research. Read the specific essay instructions below very carefully.

Research essay (25%, 1000-1200 words in length) on one of the topics listed below. I suggest coming in early, just in case you need to make last-minute adjustments.

You’ll be docked 10% if the paper is handed in after 8:30 PM Tuesday December 3. You’ll be docked 10% per day late. 

- You can also leave your paper in the LLPA Drop Box before 5:30 PM Tuesday December 3. If you use the drop-box, make sure to put the two separate copies in an envelope and write “ROGER CLARK” very clearly on the front.

- There’s a strict 1200 word maximum. Put a word count after the text and before the bibliography (References or Works Cited). The topic, title, and bibliography aren’t included in the word count. 

-  At the top of the first page, just before the title, write the essay topic in full (the topic and title aren’t included in your word count). Put your full name on the top right hand corner of all pages, before the page number — i.e. Roger Clark — 3.

- Don’t use a cover page, and don’t put your paper in a folder (unless, of course, you are putting it in the assignment drop-box); merely staple the pages together. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your paper mailed back to you (and be sure to affix sufficient postage).Or, you can pick up your paper in a subsequent term. 

- If you use pictures, photos, maps, charts, etc., provide sources. You can indicate these in an abbreviated manner below the items.

You must hand in TWO COPIES of the paper. (I ask for two copies in order to check for plagiarism from subsequent papers.)

— The first copy includes the essay and the bibliography. — The second copy includes the essay, the bibliography, and hard copies of every page you cite. For the hard copy source pages: 

— Include ONLY the pages you cite; don’t include entire articles or chapters. Highlight, underline, or otherwise clearly indicate the precise location of your quote or reference on the hard copy page. Give the source at the top of the page as in the body of the paper — i.e. (Smith 23). 


Cognition and Knowledge

Note: I've embedded several videos below just to stimulate ideas. These are not not topics, most of them aren't scholarly, and some of them are full of flaws (which might spur you to take a stand). I’ve also inserted quotes (indented and italicized) from Calvino’s “The Farthest Channel.” These might stimulate ideas as well as remind you to think about the media landscape before the Net.

Is the Net changing the way we think and/or feel in a radical or fundamental way?

How does accessing many points of view in rapid succession affect cognition — that is, the way we process sensory experience and ideas?

Is the Net overwhelming us with information and points of view, or is it helping us make coherent, constructive patterns?

The press of the button is the bridge I throw out to that other bridge that opens like a fan in the void, and that my harpoons still haven’t been able to hook onto — two unfinished bridges of electromagnetic pulses that don’t connect and that lose themselves in the dust of a fragmented world. (para. 4)

Are we in control of the choices we make, or are the choices in control of us? How are these choices offered? In what ways does the Web create a coherent or a chaotic view of the world? A realist or an idealistic one?

To what degree do data visualization and other integrated sites combat the chaotic nature of the Web? You could look at one site or a number of sites — such as Google Arts & Culture, Wikipedia, or WikiGalaxy.

What impact is 1) Google, 2) Wikipedia, or 3) the Internet in general having on our ability to think for ourselves or to successfully navigate a variety of perspectives?

Take a claim by Calvino or Carr and argue whether or not he’s right. Remember not to do an evaluative essay, but to use Calvino or Carr to launch into your own argument. Use them as a yardstick or reference point.

Is the Net increasing literacy? (You can look at reading or cultural literacy).

How is the shift from print and TV news to online news affecting coverage or quality?

Is it better to read print media or use the Net if one wants to understand a topic deeply?


Do social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. bring clarity, truth, and/or coherence to the user or do they bring confusion, deception, and/or division?

How is the Net affecting the process of individuation?

Do the almost infinite number of choices on the Net help or harm the creation of functional identity?

There’s an unknown station that’s transmitting a story about me, my story, the only story that can explain to me who I am, where I come from, and where I’m going. (para. 4)

Is the Net increasing or decreasing emotional maturity?

How is the Net affecting the relation of peer groups to individuals?

Is the Net destroying identity or invigorating it? You can look at individual, cultural, political, or national identity. Individual identity could include sexuality, spirituality, career, peer groups, etc.; cultural identity could include ethnicity, language, religion, customs, sub-cultures, etc.


My thumb presses down independently from my own volition: from moment by moment, at irregular intervals, I feel the need to push, to press, to release an impulse sudden as a bullet. (para. 1)

Is Internet addiction more damaging than television addiction?

Is online gaming more addictive than pre-Net gaming?


Is the Net increasing the ratio of sex to romance, or of sex to commitment?

Is the Net increasing the divide between the way men and women see or judge sexuality?

Is the scenario in the film Don Jon (2013) a realistic one? Will porn addicts eventually realize that direct sexual experience (with real partners) is better than indirect sexual experience (on the Net)?

Is Internet porn more damaging to body image and expectations than offline porn?

As compared to for-profit sites, how do personalized, non-profit sites affect body image or sexual expectations?

Relationships & Marriage

Is the Net helping, redefining, or harming traditional notions of trust or fidelity?

What are dating sites doing to the

My finger jumps on the buttons, rejecting the wrappings of vain appearance like the superimposed layers of a many-coloured onion. (para.3)

Is the Web to blame for decreased interest in marital commitment (as some argue is the case in Japan)?


Is the Net helping, redefining, or harming communication between parents, between parents and children, between siblings, or between grandparents and grandchildren?

Is the film Audrie & Daisie (2016, on Netflix), Disconnect (2012) or Men, Women & Children (2015) an accurate depiction of the negative effect of the Net? Take an area that one of the films explores (adolescent sexuality, peer pressure, bullying, sexual exploitation, family dynamics, criminality, freedom of information, etc.) and 1) argue whether or not the film is an accurate reflection of the effect of the Net, or 2) use the film as a starting point to make an argument about what is happening in the area you chose.

Is the Internet creating a generational gap in North America that is more serious than that of the 1960s? Or is Greenfield right in “Back to the Future”?

How is the Net affecting the balance between what an individual wants and what family and culture want for that individual?

Culture & Religion

How are different cultural or religious groups affected by the double tendency of sites to offer alternatives and reinforce the status quo?

Meanwhile the real programme is travelling along the paths of the ether on a frequency I don't know, perhaps losing itself in space where I won’t be able to intercept it. (para. 4)

Is there any correlation between type of culture or religion and degree to which these are threatened or strengthened by the Net?

Is there an overall pattern in culture or religion according to which the Web has increased tolerance or extremism?

Society & Censorship

Is the Net increasing impatience, selfishness, or self-centredness? 

Is the Net increasing crime, extremism, or terrorism?

In the Fourteenth Century, Chaucer argued that one should “turn the page” if one is offended by what one considers immoral content. How successful or damaging to morality is the Net’s personally-driven version of censorship?

Does Wikileaks increase the well-being of society? Does the philosophy behind it, and the precedent it sets, increase freedom and/or justice?

Is Killswitch (2014 - on Netflix) an accurate depiction of the activities of Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden?

The Dark Web

What is the effect of the Dark Web on privacy rights and/or crime investigation? 

Are conservative forces demonizing the Dark Web? 

What is the effect of the Dark Web and sites like Silk Road on 'the war on the War on Drugs'? 

Does Silk Road reduce drug harm?

Global Issues

Lord of War (2005) depicts the small arms world of the 1980s and early 1990s. How has the Internet affected the world of small arms dealing? 

Is the Net increasing international crime, extremism, or terrorism?

Is the Net improving our understanding of foreign cultures, or is it creating more stereotypes and prejudices?

Is the Net altering Canadian attitudes towards the US? Is the Internet accelerating Americanization?

Taking Trump as an example, what is the effect of Twitter on American political culture?