The Multiple Genre Argument
Research in progress for ENGL 1301: Composition I
Faculty Mentor: W. Scott Cheney, Ph.D.
The following paper represents exceptional research completed by a student in English 1301, the first course in the two-semester composition sequence at Collin College. Students in ENGL 1301 are introduced to the concept of academic research by learning to ask research-focused questions and then use library databases to find sources that provide answers. Because traditional research writing tends to emphasize sources over context, the following assignment works to disrupt the automatic methods that students have learned and asks them to think creatively about how research exists in the world.
In what follows, the student has written a research-based essay called the Multiple Genre Argument (MGA). In the MGA, the author uses research to creatively envision a possible group of documents that might surround an issue or conflict. In other words, the student imaginatively writes a collection of genres that constitutes the paper trail surrounding their specific issue. During this process, the author becomes familiar with various stakeholders’ responses to the problem, and this imaginative engagement leads the writer to choose the most convincing side of the argument. Though an MGA includes some traditional academic forms, the point of the project is to invent a tangible setting with genres that communicate a nuanced perspective of the controversy.
In Multiple Genres, Multiple Voices, Cheryl Johnson and Jayne Moneysmith explain:
In a [Multiple Genre Argument], writers create an argument that explores alternative perspectives by using multiple genres written from different points of view. Genres might include a letter, a dialogue, a report, or even a poem—in addition to the traditional essay. Students bolster their argument with research that is reflected within these genres, creating an “organic” whole, though the “whole” may not be linear. By combining an array of voices, with the rigor of scholarship, the [MGA] offers a fresh and powerful approach to research and argument. (2)
Their idea of “combining an array of voices, with the rigor of scholarship” sums up the purpose of the MGA. To say it another way, the assignment pushes students to conceptualize and create various positions through research, moving them closer to the issues and helping them identify the most convincing arguments. In this paper, for example, the student skillfully presents different arguments by inventing journalists, FBI agents, researchers, and ordinary citizens.
Johnson, Cheryl and Jayne Moneysmith. Multiple Genres, Multiple Voices. Boynton/Cook, 2005.
"Never Secret Enough,"
Quest: Vol. 4
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.collin.edu/quest/vol4/iss1/2