Controversial Essay Topic
Rhetoric Fall 2013
For this paper, you will discuss a controversial, recent news story and map out the reaction to this story using Storify as a medium to organize and curate links, social media posts, and photos.
The goal of this assignment is not only to understand what is going on in a particular controversy, but also to chart the ways in which people talk about that controversy. Storify is particularly useful for this purpose because it allows one to curate news stories, social media posts, and images alongside one's analysis. What will result from this assignment is not a paper in the traditional sense, but it will be your sense-making of a controversy and the conversations around it, along with tweets, images, and links that exemplify these conversations.
Choose a story that interests you, but that has a variety of interpretations available. For example, you might choose to analyze the Miley Cyrus VMA performance and the ways in which race was discussed afterwards, or the ways her controversial performance alienated certain people. Your news story must be recent (within the last six months), popular (your classmates will know at least cursory details of the story), and controversial (other people need to have talked about it). I strongly discourage going out of your depth--if the controversy surrounding Syria vaguely interests you but you have no prior knowledge of the conflict, you may find another topic easier to manage.
Narrowing down your topic of analysis is important; otherwise you'll be far too overloaded. Instead, you'll need to focus in on the conversation--for example, while discussing the Steubenville Rape case, you might focus on the ways on which the victim was portrayed, or alternatively, the ways in which the football players were talked about in the news coverage. Narrow down to what you think is important in the story—what most makes you curious about this