Navigating Sources with Different Perspectives

For this assignment, we will be locating a total of 3 sources on the National Security Agency and the issue of privacy and security. One source has been located for you as a starting point. The article is "Snowden and Greenwald: The Men who Leaked the Secrets" by Janet Reitman.

Researching & Analyzing After you have settled on a debate, follow these steps:

  • Carefully choose two different sources within your debate that do not agree. Look for texts that demonstrate nuanced kinds of disagreement rather than just settling for obvious "pro" & "con" sources. (Remember that the point off this assignment is to help you learn something about how texts are constructed & how meaning is made. If you choose obvious texts to analyze, you won't learn nearly as much as you could have - and your paper will be much harder to write.)
  • Once you have chosen your three sources, begin to analyze them. An obvious place to begin would be by sketching out the rhetorical situations for each text, as well as for the larger context of the debate in which they exist. You might also ask who the authors (or rhetors) are and what their values, motivations, and constraints might be.
  • Next, you should analyze the arguments that the authors are making. What are their points? Do they disagree on everything? What kinds of evidence do they use? Do they seem to believe that the same things even count as evidence?
  • Take notes as you analyze your text and find ways to organize your notes.

Planning Now that you have conducted the research and analyzed the texts, take a step back and ask yourself what you found. Go back to your original question and try to answer it: How and why do the authors of the texts have different perspectives? You might have one clear answer to this question, and you might have several potential ideas regarding why they can't agree. Go ahead and make some claims in answer to the question and start gathering the evidence from your notes to support your claims.

Drafting Write an analytical, research-based essay in which you provide an answer to the question: Why do the authors have different perspectives in the debate on the National Security Agency and the issue of privacy and security? Be sure to do the following in your essay:

  • Provide background information on the debate and the three texts you chose to analyze.
  • Make your claims in answer to the question, and provide the textual evidence from your analysis to support your claims.
  • End your essay with some sort of "so what?" Tell your readers why it would be useful to have this analysis and why it is important to understand how texts are constructed and how meaning is made - or not.

What Makes the Essay Good? Your essay will be evaluated in terms of how well it accomplishes the goals set out. Remember that your essay should answer the question: Why do the authors have different perspectives in the debate on the National Security Agency and the issue of privacy and security? And how? A strong essay will do the following:

  • Orient the reader by initially providing enough background information on the debate and the three texts you chose to analyze;
  • Make a clear claim in answer to the question;
  • Provide textual evidence that is convincing and clear to the reader;
  • Be organized in a way that the reader can follow along without having to work to figure out where you are going;
  • Be polished and edited so that the reader understands what you are arguing and is not distracted from your claims.