either the dialogue of sources assignment

Dialogue of Sources Assignment
You can move from note-taking to formulating your argument through a creative
assignment we call the dialogue of sources. Why a dialogue? Throughout Envision, we
emphasize that research is social – it is a relationship with the people whose ideas and
writing comes before you. Thus, you as a researcher and writer are now contributing to
this conversation, building on the work of others, and adding a new perspective. Indeed,
this notion of writing as communal is the reason why we use the author’s name when
citing a quotation or an idea; remember that all your sources are authored sources. If you
think of texts as written by people such as yourself, you will have an easier time
remembering to acknowledge their ideas and integrate their quotations into your essay.
To put this idea into writing, you can compose a “dialogue of sources” – or literal
conversation that you might have with your sources if the authors were all sitting around
the seminar table with you. In other words, you can think of this writing assignment as a
fictional conversation among the primary and secondary sources of your research paper
that identifies each one’s central argument and main idea, with the idea of promoting a
conversation about a relevant social or political topic. Here’s the process:
First, identify the key players from your potential of sources. Which ones have
the most influential or important arguments?
Then, create a cast of characters list in which you create a short “bio” for each
speaker, including yourself, describing each person’s credentials and rhetorical
stance—their ethos and their argument. You may even want to create
identifying icons or pictures to give “faces” to the participants.
Now, draft the script. Begin by writing out key questions; ask your sources
crucial questions about your topic. As they articulate their positions, put them
in dialogue with one another. Use quotes from your sources where possible and
include page numbers.
Don’t just play the “objective” moderator. Respond to the sources, and, in the
process, start to develop your own argument.
Take a look at the “dialogue of sources” samples in the Student Writing section of the
Envision Website; as you can tell from Amanda Johnson’s dialogue of sources, this
process of literally responding to the main arguments in your texts can produce a very
helpful interchange about the research topic and help move you toward the refinement of
your own main argument.