Expectations for Term Paper

Begin your preparation by rereading the assignment.

Identifying a speech to write about

First, you need to select a speech to investigate. Any of the speeches in The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader that we have not scheduled for class discussion will work. Look at the syllabus for class periods to come to make certain that your speech will not be discussed in the future. Not everything in this book of readings is a speech. You will generally find it easier to do the assignment if you select a speech. The key, however, is not that you have a speech, but that you have a piece of discourse that is strategic. Exclude essays that just record recollections or histories of events. You want to look at discourse invented in the time of the movement and designed to persuade an audience about the movement. If you have a favorite speech from the movement that is not included in the readings, check it out with me. It will probably work.

Library Research

Next, you need to research the moment of the speech. You have the books for the course: Williams' Eyes on the Prize and even some historical essays in the Reader. But you will need to do some library research as well. Using VICTOR, find some histories of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s or some general histories of the fifties and sixties. Use the indexes in these histories to find information about what is happening in the time of your speech. In addition, look at magazines and newspapers of the month or so around your speech.

I also recommend that you read some general media papers and magazines of the time of your event including some that had predominantly African American readers. Read both Northern papers and Southern papers. McKeldin has a series of newspaper indexes in its reference department and the papers are available on microform in McKeldin Library. Generally newspapers have not established archives on the web, but if you want to try a specific newspaper and see try either this site or this site. The African American collection is in a microfilm collection called "Underground Newspaper Collection."

Although it is not required, you are encouraged to also look to see if earlier students of the movement have essays about your speech. If you would like to check for such articles, I would suggest you try Comm Search 95, a bibliography of articles in Speech Communication located on Work Station 21 in the automated section of the McKeldin reference area. If you look up such articles, make certain that you do not plagiarize them, just consult them and quote them as useful. Any material drawn from such sources should be acknowledged in reference notes.

Be certain you construct a bibliography of the sources in which you find material. There is no magic number of such sources, but I would suspect that you will find six to ten such sources.

In addition, to the bibliography, be certain that you take notes of important ideas from your reading that help you to understand the moment. You will want to know what is going on in the country at the time, and in the African American community. And you will want to understand what is going on in the Civil Rights movement. Use the material on social movements from the course and your reading of history to locate the needs of the time.

Analyzing the speech

Having visited the library, you are ready to begin to analyze the speech. What were the demands of the situation on the speaker? Turn your historical research into an understanding of what the speaker had to do to respond to the situation. The material from Campbell's The Rhetorical Act and from various ways of understanding situations explored in the lectures and class discussions will help you to make claims about the demands, and your historical research will help you offer support for your claims. Be sure and include references (footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references as called for in your form manual) for your support in your paper.

What did the speaker do to respond to these demands, and how well did s/he respond? Your paper should identify strategies used by the speaker, tie those strategies to specific purposes (to specific demands of the situation), and evaluate the strategies. Once again, Campbell and the material from lectures and discussion should help you identify strategies and understand how they respond to the demands of the situation.

I recommend that you simply make notes about your observations, understanding the speech thoroughly before beginning to write your paper.

Drafting your paper

Begin your writing by formulating a thesis that captures your judgement about the speech. Your thesis will judge the speech (effective or ineffective, articulate or inarticulate, for example) and in a single sentence explain why you believe the speech deserves this judgement. The rest of your paper will explain and support this thesis/claim about the speech. Be certain that you include a good, interesting introduction in your paper and a conclusion that summarizes your claim and its support.

Revising your draft

After you have completed your paper, revise it to improve your writing and place it in the proper form. I will be grading both the quality of your writing and your following proper form in addition to the quality of your insight into the speech and the richness with which you reflect the material of the course. The paper should be formatted according to either The MLA Handbook, The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, or Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. If you do not own one of these, buy it. They are available in the book stores.

The finished paper

There is no need for fancy covers, illustrations, photos, or anything like that. Include a title page, your paper, and a bibliography. Final papers should be typed if not produced by word processing. Staple them together. Due December 2.

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