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Projects 3 & 4: Paradigm Shift Essay & TED Talk


Projects 3 & 4: Paradigm Shift Essay & TED Talk
Paradigm Shift Paper

In this 7-10 page paper, your job is to identify, discuss, and analyze a “paradigm shift” you recognize in our cultural past or contemporary moment. In addition to recognizing a certain kind of change and analyzing its potential meaning(s), you might trace the significant “moments” of this shift as well as discuss possible ramifications in terms of where our culture is “heading” and how we have come to view or value certain things.
The change you recognize might be a shift in civic life or consumer practices and attitudes. You might consider rhetorical or philosophical shifts–how the way we talk and think about an issue, phenomenon, or group has changed over time. Maybe you see changes in the representation of different groups of people (in terms of ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, etc) in film, television, art, and literature as particularly significant.
The point is that you will want to identify something new(er), tell your reader how it evolved out of and/or is different from something older, and explain how this portends a new set of ideas and values that are brought to bear on our culture. While you can certainly support your arguments with your own observations and examples, you should bolster your arguments with at least four cited sources.

This paper should have a distinct thesis and should be rich in evidence that “proves” the shift, as it were. Be sure that you select a reasonable set of historical moments with which to work (e.g. the dawn of time until 2014 will probably not work) and that you are not merely describing a technological change without treating its implications.

The goals of this assignment are:

To identify (through research, perceptiveness, and discussion) a subtle but significant shift in cultural values, practices, attitudes.
To conduct library and internet research thoughtfully and critically, demonstrating an awareness of sources with more and less credibility.
To integrate research in a sophisticated, engaged way throughout the essay.
To conduct research across an established time period and to consider chronology and history in your argument.
To challenge, expand, and transform your audience’s understanding of your topic.

TED talks have recently become a phenomenon in the United States and even globally. TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design,” though the subject matter of the talks can range even more broadly than that. Talks given as TED talks are delivered to a live audience and are recorded. Many are posted online where they end up attracting a larger (sometimes much larger) audience. Your instructor will recommend some TED talks and possibly even show some during a class meeting. You may also visit to ted.com/talks to browse through and view TED talks on your own time.

Once you have seen a few TED talks, you might begin to understand why TED has caught on so quickly. Put simply, they engage the audience by offering engaging subject matter through rhetorical invention (choosing topics and arguments that are compelling, surprising, or counter-intuitive) and developing an engaging manner of presentation. TED speakers do not use notes. They look at the audience. They move around the stage. In a word, they perform,

For this assignment, you will develop a short (4-5 minute) TED talk that draws from the research on your paradigm shift paper. You will perform it in the one-button recording studio in Pattee’s Media Commons with some classmates in attendance. The audience will be smaller than your usual class period. But don’t let that stop you from going big here.

This assignment has two main aims:

to work on developing a talk from existing research. This will mean asking yourself what the most compelling or salient point or two of the research is. If you don’t find your paradigm shift paper all that compelling, then you might return to the research to reconceptualize a bit.
to perform a talk (as opposed to deliver a speech). This will mean working on speaking from memory—which is to say memorizing key points and practicing enough so that you are able to stand up and present the points in a connected, coherent, and engaging way. Guess what? One notable TED talk even focuses on such memorization strategies; this talk will be paired with a reading about ancient memory practices as part of our preparation.


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