2) Your main research project. This should be roughly the equivalent of an 8-page (i.e., 2,000 word) paper, posted to your blog, on a topic or subject that relates to a specific place in Syracuse and explores, at least in part, relevent aspects of the physical place/space/location of your topic. This can include places that are a part of Syracuse University if they are related to places that are not part of SU (for example, writing about South Campus in relation to the physical space it occupies with respect to the rest of the City, or exploring the contrasts and relationships between the SU campus and a nearby city neighborhood.)
Remember, the goal is NOT to write a “report”, or a mere summary of existing information on your topic, but to find something interesting and meaningful—to find a story that needs to be told, have some ideas about its larger meaning or significance, and to tell that story in a real and compelling way. One model for this might be the Rebecca Solnit piece we read, though your piece would need to be on a smaller scale. The Ed Griffin-Nolan pieces we read about Nojaim’s market and the Hawley-Green neighborhood could also serve as models, though in these cases you’d want to make your piece more substantial— by delving more deeply into your topic, describing and exploring the way your subject is informed by space or place, and by talking more about the larger meanings and implications of the main subject of your paper. The piece we’ll be looking at in class on Tuesday, The Town Without Wifi, could also serve as a model.
Your paper should include at least several relevent images (at least some of which were taken by yourself) that are integrated with your text, and help to tell your story in meaningful ways. The images and the text should ‘talk to each other’, that is, work together in conveying information and feeling. You should also do at least one interview, and include in your piece relevent quotes from it, as appropriate to telling the story you want to tell. For many of your pieces, you’ll want to include quotes from numerous kinds of stakeholders—people who are on different sides of your issue and are affected by it in different ways, and including both experts/officials/leaders as well as ordinary citizens or residents of the city. Make sure to use the disclosure form I passed out in class for any interviews with subjects you think you might want to quote in your piece, and of course remember to be open, honest, and kind to anyone you talk to. You also may want to include maps in your piece (like the annotated google maps we did in class, or something else, created or borrowed, that serves the needs of your project), but this is not a requirement.
Technical details: In lieu of formal citations or references, your piece should include hyperlinks wherever there is significant information in your piece that is not based on you own primary research, or where a reader would benefit from having a link by which they could learn more about an issue. Note the word “significant”: You don’t need to provide citation links for small details, or generally accessible facts (for example, the population of Syracuse.) You also don’t need a citation for general ideas that are in wide circulation (e.g., that Syracuse is a rust-belt city that has lost manufacturing jobs over the past 40 years. On the other hand, if citing specific
numbers about that manufacturing job loss is important to the meaning of your piece (for most of your papers, it probably wouldn’t be), then you would provide a hyperlink to your source.) I won’t ask you to get permission to use images or other content that is generally availble on the web, but you should provide credits for these, as best you are able, either in a caption or in your text. In terms of length: 2000 words is a rough number. If your piece needs to be somewhat longer than that, to tell it’s story well, that’s fine. I’m not going to count words, so if it comes out a little shorter than that, but it feels like a substantial piece that looks at your issue in depth and tells its story well, then don’t worry. Images and maps can be important ways to convey both meaning and feeling, and might well contribute greatly to your piece, but you shouldn’t rely on the just to ‘bulk up” the paper.
3) A public argument. On the same general topic as your main project, you will compose a shorter, more argument-based piece, without images, and submit it for publication (under your own name) to a relevent local newspaper (print or online). This can be a letter-to-the-editor or other editorial-page submission. The most likely places to submit would be the Syracuse Post- Standard/syracuse.com (letters are a maximum of 250 words, submitted at http://www.syracuse.com/mailforms/opinion/index.ssf) and the Daily Orange (400 word maximum, information on submissions at dailyorange.com/about). NOTE: if you are submitting to the DO, you will need to send them your letter by 4:00 PM on Sunday, April 26th, since they stop publishing at the end of the semester. If you’re submitting to the DO, cc me on the email, so that I can see that you’ve submitted; for the Post Standard, you can just take a screenshot of your submission before you hit send, and email that to me. If there are other outlets you’d like to submit to instead of these, just let me know.
Note that these letters should only contain things you actually believe and feel comfortable having published under your name, and remember that you audience for these is the readership of the paper, not your instructor.
Due dates and grading: Both the main project and the public argument are due by the end of the day on Monday, May 4th (our last class is Tuesday, April 28), but note that if you’ll be submitting your public argument to the Daily Orange, then the last day to do that is April 26th (as described above). As for grading, the assigments listed here will make up 70% of your final grade. Your main project making up the majority of that, but with your research updates and public argument taken into consideration as well.
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