UNIT THREE: WRITING IN A NEW GENRE
At the end of Unit 2, we asked the question: What is the most important thing you learned and what audience do you think needs to know about it? For Unit 3, we ask ourselves: what is the best genre to tell that audience the information you learned in Unit 2?
In this unit, you will write about the subject you researched in Unit 2 in the genre of your choice, preferably one of the genres you have already researched, but I’m open to other options. Whatever you choose, it should be the genre that best reaches the audience you think needs to hear about your topic. It also needs to showcase your research!
How are you going to get your target audience to listen to your message? Will they listen to a political speech? Watch a video essay? Read a magazine article? Read/watch a scene from a play/film? Read the lyrics to a song? You can use pretty much any genre, as long as it’s one that’s new to you and appropriate for the audience you choose. No middle school kid is going to sit still for a 30-minute political speech even if it’s about how to keep from being bullied. Wrong genre, poor analysis of your audience. All I ask is that you make sure it isn’t offensive (racist, sexist, homophobic, religion-intolerant). Also, no Power Point.*
Once you’ve written your new genre text, you’ll also write an Artist’s Statement to go along with it, something that tells us what you intended to do, who your intended audience was, what you went through to get it done, how well you think it turned out, and where you think it might be published/shared with that audience. There will be a handout on the Artist’s Statement when that time comes.
So, to recap, in Unit 3, you will:
- Write about the research you did in Unit 2
- Address the audience you think needs to know what you learned in Unit 2 (just the most important parts)
- Write in the genre that you think will best reach that audience
- Write a one-page Artist’s Statement that explains your process
What you’ll be graded on:
- Genre: Whatever you choose must actually fit in that genre. A video that’s just a single picture for two minutes isn’t a video because it doesn’t move; it doesn’t engage us the way a video/film should. When you do your proposal, you’ll have a chance to set up what the rules and conventions are for that genre.
- Appropriateness for audience: If you’re doing something for 4th grade students, it shouldn’t be full of graduate school words. Appropriate means word choice, approach to topic/issue, use of visuals if you use them – does the way you “wrote” your genre piece fit what would work best for this audience?
- Effectiveness of message: We’ll share these in class so you’ll get a chance to see if you got your point across. Did it fulfill your purpose?
- Length/Timeliness: The genre piece can be whatever length it needs to be based on the conventions of the genre.
- Artist Statement: Did you thoughtfully reflect on your process, even if things didn’t turn out quite how you wanted?
*Why? Because first of all, Power Point isn’t a genre, it’s a tool. You use Power Point to do something, like make a presentation or give a talk. Second of all, you’ve probably done a Power Point before, and the purpose of this assignment is for you to learn to write something new. Third, there have been a lot of studies done on the most boring forms of delivery, and Power Point is consistently at the top!
ARTIST STATEMENT GUIDELINES
Explaining the rationale behind our actions and decisions is an important kind of reflective writing because it makes visible what is otherwise invisible. You can choose to write an e-mail in Comic Sans font, but unless you explain why, the choice may seem mysterious and odd to readers. Composers of all sorts often write an Artist’s Statement for their audience that explains their inspirations, intentions, and choices in their creative and critical processes. It helps the reader understand the process that led to the final product by providing insight into what the author set out to do, how they did it, and what they might do to further improve the piece. A successful Artist’s Statement reflects your understanding of your chosen genre (and the elements, style, design, and use of sources that characterize it) – and of your specific rhetorical situation (your reasons for composing, your audience, how you use rhetorical appeals, and your choice of mode and medium).
In your Author’s Statement, please do the following:
- Provide context. It’s useful to give background on your composition, such as how you became interested in the topic, what were your inspirations, or, if you’ve created a series of related works, how the pieces all fit together.
- Discuss your specific rhetorical situation and related choices: In other words: answer the question “why?” Why did you decide to write in the genre you did? Why did you choose the audience you did? Why did you decide to talk about this particular aspect of your research? What is the purpose of your piece?
- Explain your choice of genre and how you worked within its conventions. Maybe you created a photo essay. An accompanying statement—in which you explain why you found the photo essay to be the best way to communicate your ideas about gun control—would go a long way toward helping your viewers get the most out of your work
- Reflect on how it went. Use this as an opportunity to look back at your composition and evaluate the extent of your achievement as well as note what you would have done differently or better.
*Note: This should be a fluid, cohesive document that reflects on and justifies the rhetorical choices in your New Genre Project. Do not just merely answer each question in list form.
Helpful resources for composing in various genres:
The New York Times on creating a Podcast:
The NYT has an entire list of “Mentor Texts” that help you write articles like a sports article and a personal health column. It’s quite useful. It can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/column/learning-mentor-texts
More resources for creating texts:
Free music: https://www.purple-planet.com/
Free sound effects: http://soundbible.com/free-sound-effects-1.html
Copyright safe images (photos, clip art, etc): https://search.creativecommons.org/
Stock videos (and photos): https://www.pexels.com
Illustrations you can manipulate: https://undraw.co/illustrations
https://www.canva.com/ is a mostly free (especially if you upload your own images) design program that does everything from posters and banners to storyboards and comic strips. A real go-to tool for a lot of people.
Posters, infographics, etc.:
- https://www.canva.com/ The images with crowns on them are extra, but Canva is free if you use your own images.
- https://piktochart.com/ The free version has a 40MB image upload limit.
Online comic maker: https://www.makebeliefscomix.com/
Audio creator/editor: https://www.audacityteam.org/ [easy to use with a full range of tools, lots of videos about how to use it]
- Here’s a review about free audio editing software https://www.techradar.com/news/the-best- free-audio-editor
- https://screencast-o-matic.com/ Screencast-o-matic is free if you want to do screen capture videos from your laptop. Word of warning: if you really want to do some close editing work, it will cost, but for the basics, it’s fine. You can upload the resulting video to YouTube. A lot of faculty use it.
- YouTube Studio will give you lots of tutorials about how to create videos.