image ..
teaching ..





Topic Invention for Hypertext Essay #1: Participatory Action, Truth-Telling, and Writing from a Committed Standpoint. 

Reading: Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed

The goal of this hypertext is to discuss problems arising between persons in relationship to other persons, institutions, and values.

Like Barbara Ehrenreich, you'll write from a committed standpoint, involving participation in the situation you describe, while trying to tell the truth as other people see it, and propose solutions that you think persons in other standpoints might accept. 

Your I Resign letter can help you to invent a topic regarding which you have a committed standpoint. Each letter will have described a situation, involving a strong conflict between yourself and other persons, institutions and values.  It will also have described at least two standpoints, your own, and the implied standpoint of the person or group from whom you are resigning. There may well be many other standpoints relevant to the situation.

To begin: define your own standpoint in such a way that it includes other persons. That is, what is generalizable about the concerns you have? How many other real people might feel the same way (in the same or similar situations)?  Then define the implied standpoint of the persons/group from which you're resigning in the same way: generalize it to include the shared values of a significant group of people. 

Once you've generalized the standpoints,  you should be able to describe a conflict between groups of people in which you feel involved, but which isn't about you personally. 

After describing a conflict between groups of people, you may realize that there are more than two standpoints relative to the conflict (there usually are many). Ask yourself: how many other groups have a stake in this situation? Make a list of as many as five significant standpoints. After you've figured out who the major stakeholders in the issues are, you may want to do some preliminary research, looking for strong, clear discussions of those viewpoints.

In your notebook, brainstorm for a bit. Try to describe the way the standpoints differ from each other, using complete sentences.

Then, using different complete sentences, note some of the ways that standpoints share values and interests with each other. In a sense, you are engaging in a process of negotiation between groups on issues that bear on the situation and the major conflict defining it.

Make a list of the issues relevant to the major conflict on which the persons from different standpoints either agree or disagree. 

From this point, you should be able to write a 300 word description of the hypertext you wish to prepare, noting how your own experience is relevant to issues that concern many other people.

There is no need for a thesis statement. You will want to describe the major conflict, the 3-5 significant groups you see involved (and the standpoints you see them holding), and forecast the movement of the essay over various issues, possibly noting places where narratives of personal experience will become relevant. 






Some rights reserved. Contact pmbousquet (at) gmail with questions regarding intellectual commons