Writing Project 2: Writing to Inform—Networked Arguments

First Draft Due: Tuesday, March 10
Final Draft Due: Tuesday, March 17
Workshop Day: Thursday, February 26 and Thursday, March 5
Peer Review: Thursday, March 12

TASK: Latour tells us that strong social theory begins with research that maps the relationships between material things and semiotic concepts. Your task for this unit’s major project, in light of Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT), is to choose a current issue/debate that has local ties, research the issue/debate including all actors—both human and non-human—who are implicated and connected to the issue, and then construct an informative news article (no more than 1000 words) that answers the following question: Who’s responsible (complicit) in the problem? You will work together with your peer group to complete this assignment, thus each group will only turn in one news article. Each group will share one google doc when working on article. In other words, this portfolio will comprise of both a group and individual grade. We will discuss the conventions of news articles and writing to inform in class next week.


  • To deepen an awareness of the networked relationship of responsibility.
  • Practice researching an issue and identifying all members complicit in the issue.
  • Organize the information in a coherent way.
  • Evaluate evidence and make decisions about how best to present it.
  • Demonstrate a rhetorical awareness of the news-writing genre.
  • Gain experience making choices in a group about effective communication.

You will each choose two potential issues, pitch those issues to your group members, and then collectively choose one issue. Past projects have covered issues such as cleaning up Madison’s lakes, decreasing sexual violence crimes on college campuses, and advocating for better recycling programs, to name a few. Be creative and consider an issue that you’re personally invested in interrogating. Your issue must have a local dimension.

Portfolio and Writer’s Memo:
You will complete the project in the form of a well-organized portfolio, which will include:

  • A Writer’s Memo (each student will turn in an individual writer’s memo)
  • All planning, brainstorming, and research notes or worksheets (clipped together)
  • All early drafts of your project (clipped together)
  • All feedback you received, from both me and your peers
  • The final polished draft of your project.

The Writer’s Memo serves as a cover letter to your project and should be no more than one page in length. You should describe your purpose and strategy in the writing of this project, and you should ask any questions about the writing that you may have yourself. Tell me what you learned. Tell me what was difficult. Tell me what aspects of the project you want me to look at specifically. This is your opportunity to provide some context for the writing but also a chance to ask your reader (me) directly about the effectiveness of this piece. In this specific Writer’s Memo, discuss the strategies you and your group used while writing collaboratively. What were the difficulties of writing with others? What were the strengths?

Successful projects will:

  • Analyze the networked nature of an issue or debate and engage audience members to offer a better understanding of the problem. Remember, projects such as these that are informative in nature do not rely heavily on the writer’s firsthand experience or thoughts. Instead, they gather information and perspectives about the issue/debate/question from a variety of sources, then creatively offer readers a way to better understand it through the writers’ analyses of the information and multiple perspectives.
  • Effectively use sources that approach the issue from multiple perspectives.
  • Clearly articulate to your audience how your analyses address and regard the issue.
  • Remain well written and free from grammatical errors.

See Unit 3: Proposal.