Temporal Juxtaposition

This assignment is a major project good for any course.

Its premise is

  • to teach research in an innovative manner
  • teach how to synthesize that research
  • teach how to use synthesis as the basis of an idea (i.e., invention comes after research,not before, as thesis driven teaching advocates)
  • teach how to arrange material to demonstrate an idea

The temporal juxtaposition assignment asks students to pick a year. Any year. 1965. 1999. 1902. 2011. It doesn't matter which year. The year will provide the basis for research. The point of using a year is merely to create a focused heuristic for learning how to do research.

Students research that year by focusing on 3 -4 categories:

  • politics
  • film
  • science
  • major event
  • publication
  • music
  • etc.

Students research details related to their 3-4 choices. Thus, if someone chose 1969, they might choose:

  • Midnight Cowboy (film)
  • Woodstock (major musical event)
  • Man on the moon (scientific moment)

Students don't rely on general information they already know, but go to primary (the film itself) and secondary materials to find details. Instructors help direct students to online and non-online sources.

First project: Isolate 3-4 items, outline details about each via research. 1,500 words (this is also a variation of annotation projects).

The second step is sythesis. Where does one find patterns in the details? No matter what one finds, there will always be patterns among disparate material. Patterns give us ideas by showing us a conversation we are not yet aware of. For instance, the conversation that might be built out of the three above ideas is not obvious. Research will show patterns that reveal a larger issue at stake.

Second project: Explore 1-2 main ideas (patterns) you have found in your details. 1, 500 words.

The final step is to put all the work together. Research has been done. Synthesis has been done. Now students arrange their work in a space (website, paper, blog, wiki) in order to demonstrate how X (the main point shown in second project) is important to the year of focus because of Y (all the details they outlined in first project).

In the end, the slow, lengthy process of research has been taught over 3 steps.



Course Name: 
WRD 110
Assignment Type: 
Major Project
Assignment Length: 
Multiple Class Periods
Primary Pedagogical Focus: 
Additional Information: 

See Rice, Jeff. "The 1963 Hip Hop Machine: Hip Hop Pedagogy as Composition." College Composition and Communication
Vol. 54, No. 3 (Feb., 2003), pp. 453-471 for more regarding this teaching.

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