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Assignment | Rhetorical Criticism (Curry): Getting Started

SPCH Honors | Prof. R. Curry (Fall 2021)

Speech

Assignment

Additional assignment information is available in the D2L classroom.

Accessing the Databases

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Mind Map Tools

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Before You Research

Explore your topic(s) using resources that provide a broad perspective, such as Credo Reference. Credo is a subject-specific encyclopedia providing background information and a mind mapping tool ideal for getting familiar with a topic and its related concepts. This exploration will help you develop context for your topic, narrow your topic, and get to know the specialized terms used by experts. As you dig deeper, scholarly articles can be found in other database collections.

Mind Map Process

Start off with your overall central topic: in this example, we're starting with Game of Thrones. What can you think of about that show? It's in the fantasy genre, it's adapted from a book series, it had a huge cast, it won awards, people liked (except when they didn't), it had highly-quality set design (except when it didn't)... and on and on.

You're trying to accumulate lots of ideas at this point! Big picture. Make connections, and write whatever comes to mind. When you start getting stuck, turn to Google, Credo Reference, and/or Wikipedia to get more ideas.

Once you've filled out the map of your topic a bit, look at where you have the most ideas: this is probably the strongest aspect of your topic, and what you should focus your research on.

All those other ideas? We're not going to use them. We want to deeply explore one narrow aspect of the big topic, not try to talk about everything to do with the big topic ever. (That's the job of probably a multi-volume book, not a short essay!)

It's important to still go through this process, though, even if we aren't using most of the ideas, because a) we have to see all this to figure out which thing we're targeting, and b) it still gives us context for how we actually understand the overall topic -- everything is connected! Plus, if we decide we hate our chosen topic, we can come back to drawing board and go another direction easily.

This end result of our mind map is the research topic we'd look into further for the paper: how the costumes were designed for the show and how they were used to reinforce aspects of the fictional cultures displayed. Now we can start targeting our research to just those aspects, either for the show in particular (probably web and news articles), but also more general resources about costume design that we can apply to what we've seen here.

Managing Your Research

Your process to capture sources and citations will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools:

OneDrive

OneDrive - 1 TB free storage for Lone Star College students.

Evernote

Evernote - The basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.

Zotero

Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.

Zotero

ZoteroBib is a free citation tool that supports MLA, APA, CMOS, and thousands of others. Use this instead of the full Zotero if you just need some quick citations.

What is a Methodology?

"Much like different camera lenses are used to provide varied perspectives on the photographer's subject, critical methodologies aid the rhetorical critic in evaluating an artifact."

Find here an explanation of rhetorical criticism methods and steps for conducting rhetorical research.