Multiple Genre Argument

Research in progress for ENGL 1301: Composition I

Faculty Mentor: W. Scott Cheney, Ph.D.

Standard research papers and five-paragraph essays can train students to blend quotations and organize paragraphs, but advanced writing in the disciplines and the workplace requires much more robust and nuanced thinking. To this end, the Multiple Genre Argument (MGA) pushes students into new writing situations where they create fictional genres to supplement traditional research—a challenging and often confusing task. Learning new skills requires becoming more comfortable with encountering this kind of difficulty and uncertainty. In their book Writing Analytically, David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen touch on this reality by saying, “uncertainty—even in its more extreme version, confusion—is a productive state of mind, a precondition for having ideas.” The MGA not only asks students to embrace this mindset of not knowing at the beginning of the project, but it also challenges them to explore multiple perspectives in their writing instead of merely asserting one side of the argument. To complete the essay, students write three genres: a creative genre to open up the controversy of their topic, a researched argument to demonstrate their claims, and a final creative genre to provide resolution to the issue brought up in the first genre.

In the following MGA, Jackson Still cleverly introduces readers to a troubling question that some US citizens must ask themselves: should I live near a nuclear power plant? He begins the essay by writing a short story describing the thoughts of a fictionalized citizen who lives near the proposed construction site of a new power plant. The researched argument portion of the essay addresses concerns that most people have about nuclear reactors and argues that the US should still use nuclear power. In his final genre, Jackson creates a news story featuring an imagined interview with the concerned citizen from the first genre that shows how he changed his mind about the nuclear power plant near his town. To provide evidence for his points and indicate the validity of the problem, Jackson uses academic research from peer-reviewed journals and supplements those with articles from reputable newspapers and magazines. From the beginning of the writing process in our ENGL 1301 class to the final revision with Quest editors, Jackson skillfully researched, expanded, and improved his paper. The following essay is a testament to his hard work and perseverance. Because he moved beyond the initial difficulty of the MGA, Jackson better understands how to explore varied perspectives and navigate complex problems—skills he will use as he finishes his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, considers graduate school, and eventually enters the workplace.

Faculty Mentor

Professor Scott Cheney, scheney@collin.edu



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