In-class Topic Proposal Activity

For a successful topic proposal paper, it is essential that you've narrowed your topic sufficiently to talk about it in just a few minutes.  It is often tempting to let a topic become too broad because you haven't spent much time striving for specificity.

So for today, we're going to form groups of three and trade proposals with two other students.  Your job will be to read these two other students' papers and to determine how, performing a minimum of additional research, they can make their topic more specific

For example:

If someone proposes writing about "global warming", you'll suggest that they look at the ways that electric cars' dependence on coal powered electric grids smash much of the perceived benefit.

If they want to propose speaking about "health care", suggest they talk about how the new health care bill's removal of lifetime caps will affect those with pancreatic cancer.

So if someone is writing about "football", you're going to suggest that they write about Washington signing Albert Haynesworth and now, with a new coach and a new style of defense, how the issue of his not wanting to play in a 3-4 defense could hurt the team.  (I mean, duh.  That's far and away the most interesting topic within the field of "football".)

So for today, in class:
  1. Read a proposal.
  2. Consider two new theses that they could insert into the same paper without doing additional researchWrite these alternate theses down.
  3. Try to determine what you believe to be the writer's current main points.  Suggest how to change these points slightly to integrate each of your newly suggested theses -- or point out points that will need to be scrapped and rewritten.  That said, minimize changes and try to integrate the research that's already been done.  Write these points (two sets of three) down too.  You'll be giving them to your classmates.
  4. Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat with the next topic proposal paper.
  5. If time permits, we'll discuss a few proposals together.

For Monday:

After today, if you remembered your printed copy for today's class, you'll have until Friday afternoon to refine your proposal if you'd like to take advantage of what your peers have given you. Please name revisions Name_TopicPropsal2 and use the same in the subject of your email.