Your purpose, generally, is to convince your audience of the usefulness of an idea.

Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing exercise and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

Every one of us has been in a conversation where we heard an idea or an argument we loved so much we couldn’t wait to share it with someone. In this assignment we will expand this type of conversation by spreading ideas between contexts. First we will read and listen to ideas and arguments, analyze them, and explore a new context that might benefit from the idea. We will convince an appropriate audience through an open letter that the new idea is worthy of their consideration.

Purpose: Your purpose, generally, is to convince your audience of the usefulness of an idea. This means, more specifically, that you will, analyze, summarize and respond in a way that argues in support of an idea or argument in its application to a new context. Using a critical analysis, you will identify how a compelling argument could be useful in another context. Next you will summarize the idea for your audience before responding by arguing for the ideas potential in the new context. For example, you may decide that Roger Ebert’s idea that social media (originating context) can “give [people] a substitute for every day conversations,” should be heard by your grandparents (new context) in order to address the problem of isolation and immobilization in the elderly.

Genre: You will write an open letter, which is specifically addressed to a person or organization but is intended for a larger audience to read. Open letters are often published in a newspaper or magazine.

Audience: Foremost you should choose an audience who is worthy of receiving the idea. The audience will be associated with the new context where you are spreading the idea. For instance, if you are spreading an idea from the context of marketing to the context of education, some worthy audience possibilities may be teachers, principals, students or parents.

  • We will review how people approach the task of spreading their ideas and arguments. We will look at twelve texts, in a mix of genres, paying particular attention to the rhetorical choices these authors make in order to effectively “spread their ideas.”
  • Summary and Analysis: provide a relevant summary of the idea for your audience, paying particular attention to the parts of the text which will transfer to the new context and be of most interest to your audience.
  • Informed Response: You will respond by arguing to your audience that the idea you are asking them to consider will be useful to their context, emphasizing why the idea is important (your reasons), what is at stake, and providing evidence from the original text (and, potentially, from other texts we’ve read so far this semester) to back up your argument. Your informed response shows that you’ve listened to the broader conversation surrounding these issues and your analysis and response is based on an accurate knowledge and understanding of the situation or subject in question. Your audience is depending on you to provide more than first reaction opinions; they desire informed opinions.
  • Critical Thinking Approach: Your essay should be informed by all of the texts we have read thus far. You should also investigate the idea’s originating context as well as the context where you are exploring the idea anew.…

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