Unit Two: Conducting and Presenting Research

In Unit One, we studied rhetorical artifacts to excavate the ideologies and commonplaces embedded within them, reconstruct their rhetorical situations, and examine their rhetorical choices and appeals. In some ways, these artifacts can be frozen in their cultural moments, like rhetorical wooly mammoths, if you will. But ideologies never stay frozen. They shift and change with time and circumstance. In Unit Two, we will research the mutability of ideologies and practices over time and present this research compellingly in two formats: a TED-style recorded talk and a formal research paper.

Assignment 3: Paradigm Shift Research Paper

In this 7-10 page paper, your job is to identify, discuss, and analyze a “paradigm shift.” In addition to recognizing a certain kind of change and analyzing its potential meanings, 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 practices and attitudes. You might consider philosophical or rhetorical shifts–how the way we think and talk 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 strong and varied research, 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 2015 will probably not work) and that you are not merely describing a technological change without treating its implications.

Paradigm Shift Paper Goals and Evaluation Criteria

Assignment 4: RCL TED-style Talk

For this assignment, you will develop a 4-5 minute “TED-style” talk that draws from the research on your paradigm shift paper, which you will perform and record in the One-Button Studio in Pattee’s Media Commons with classmates in attendance. Developing a compelling talk from existing (and still unfolding) research is a critical skill, especially in academics. We’re adopting a TED-style format to learn how to “perform” our work and to take advantage of the unique affordances of the One-Button Studios here at Penn State.

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. TED talks are delivered to a live audience and are also recorded; thus, they are composed and delivered with two kinds of audiences in mind. Many are posted online where they end up attracting a larger (sometimes much larger) audience.

Once you have seen a few TED talks, either shared or recommended for class or viewed on your own time, you might begin to understand why the TED style of presentation has caught on so quickly. Put simply, TED presenters engage the audience by offering compelling subject matter through rhetorical invention, often presenting topics and arguments that are revelatory or counter-intuitive in a dynamic manner. TED speakers do not use notes. They look at the audience. They move around the stage. In a word, they perform.

You, too, will be expected to “perform” this talk. 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. One notable TED talk even focuses on such memorization strategies.

TED Talk Goals and Evaluation Criteria