Text-in-Context Essay

Assignment #2: Text-in-Context Essay

Due for In-Class Peer Review: October 25, 2012

Due for grade: November 6, 2012


What is a “text-in-context” essay?

Contexts: Context is defined as any factors or influences surrounding a text. A text may be a written work but also a film, event, or situation. Contexts shape the way people view or understand a work or happening.

The purpose of this assignment is to make you capable researchers, researchers that understand a particular subject and enter into conversation with others who may be addressing the same problem or question. This component of the class will help you understand what’s happening in the academic literature on your topic. Once you understand the academic debates that have already occurred (by doing research and reading articles on your topic), then you will be better situated to enter an ongoing conversation. This conversation is known as a dialectical conversation, as opposed to a polemical conversation.

Taking what you’ve learned from your first essay, you will build upon your new-found close reading skills and analytic reasoning in order to evaluate the context in which the songs were written. You will use secondary texts, or research texts, that build upon an understanding of your primary text, in this case, chose one of the following songs: “All along the Watchtower,” “Gimme Shelter,” or “Holiday in Cambodia.” These secondary texts should provide a foundation for understanding a particular historical background, a biography about the songwriter, and/or current academic debates. The essay should make strong supportable claims about the primary text and be supported by the secondary material. Thus the topic of the essay will connect some aspect of context in which the text was written or has been examined to your interpretation of that primary text; in other words, you will both analyze the text and directly discuss its place in its context.

You should focus your Text-in-Context essay on relatively few secondary sources. This is not an exercise in gathering as many secondary sources as possible, but rather an exercise in choosing which secondary sources are most applicable to your argument. In this case, try to narrow your sources down to two or three.

There are three steps to this essay:

You will write and turn in for peer review (and for a grade) a 1)  research proposal, 2) annotated bibliography, and 3) text-in-context essay.

The Abstract

In one short paragraph (4-5 sentences) you should be able to tailor your research to one guiding principle. Because you have limited space, your topic should be some aspect of the lyric that you are interested in. You may want to begin by asking critical questions that may lead you to refine your topic even more. Remember this essay is relatively short for a research paper so a more focused topic will serve you better. I strongly encourage you to ask questions rather than state a position at this point. You may want to begin by creating a thesis question: something you plan on investigating. Begin with some preliminary investigation by looking at a handful sources (at the very least). BOTH THE ABSTRACT AND THE LITERATURE REVIEW ARE DUE TO ME ON 10/18. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are having any problems.

The Literature Review

The literature review helps you to understand the argument of an academic article that you have researched. In one to two sentences, you should be able to summarize the main idea and the main argument of each piece that you read. Please provide three annotations. BOTH THE ABSTRACT AND THE LITERATURE REVIEW ARE DUE TO ME ON 10/18. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are having any problems.

The Text-in-Context Essay

The essay will be an accumulation of the knowledge that you’ve acquired about your topic. Here you will take a critically thought out argument- an academic argument. Working with claims, evidence, and discussions, you will persuade your readers that you have a legitimate and credible position. Rather than merely summarizing the experts, you will offer your readers your own “interpretive lens” that is informed by the “experts”— i.e. your research. [4-6 pages, standard academic format (MLA format)].

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