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Proving the Impossible: An Exercise in Early Research Paper Writing

Assignment Summary

Part 2--Assignment Sheet

Group number: 1 2 3 4 5

Group topic to argue:



1. Please work together to produce one persuasive paragraph on your assigned topic, using fictitious research for support. In other words, in order to argue your case you are asked to invent research in the form of direct quotes or paraphrasing. Do not forget to lead into or out of your quotes and give parenthetical (MLA style) citation.

*Note: The material for these pretend quotes should not be physical impossibilities. In other words, you may invent authors, sources, or publishing institutions, but you may not redefine the laws of nature or physics (for example).

2. Write each of your names on top of a single sheet of paper. Discuss and compose all sentences of your paragraph together, but alternate writing each of them on the paper. Therefore, if your group has five members, five distinct handwritings will constitute the paragraph. Choose one group member to read the paragraph to the class. For this, each of you must write legibly and skip lines. Paragraphs are to be read loudly and slowly.

3. If you finish early, please let me know.

Example Excerpts

We Are Not Here Right Now

1. An article in a philosophical journal shows that "we are not really here now" (Boo 178). Boo suggests that "here" is only a concept and nobody is really here, but here is in us.

2. To begin addressing this argument, one could say what is here? "We are where we choose to be" (Jones 37). Since most of us here choose to be on a sunny beach instead, our physical presence is of no consequence since spiritually we're gone.

Hot is Cold

3. Something is only hot as compared to something that is cold, and vice versa. In order for cold to exist, heat must escape first, in a scientific sense. Hot and cold are just extremes relative to some accepted normal temperature.

4. In many recent scientific studies, an astonishing discovery has been made. Physicists and chemists alike have made a breakthrough in thermodynamics, which shakes the supposedly concrete definitions of cold and hot. It has been found that cold is indeed hot. Dr. Steven A. Bleinkeim of the California Institute of Technology states in his essay "The Essence of Hot and Cold" that "melting snow has shown to produce water vapor" (2). This is the same as steam, which we associate with something hot, which brings these opposites together.

The Earth is Flat

5. Do you wobble when you walk? Does it feel like you are driving on a ball? In reaction to an article in the Daily Globe, the Times writes that the earth is flat. Research shows "50% of the population has disappeared into the abyss at the edge of the earth" (Smith 322).

Black is White

6. The colors black and white have been the subject of controversy for many years. Despite what has been said, we believe that black is white. At a college party, for example, we observed that when a black light was turned on, we saw white. The same is true in a photonegative. So it is clear that sometimes black is white.

Instructor's Comments

genre argument and persuasion (researched argument), correctness and style
course WRT 102
activity type small group discussion, class discussion, collaborative writing, research
skills analysis, persuasion, thesis development, source documentation, transitions
duration 1 class
handouts: assignment sheet (html, Word), explanation of example texts (html, Word)
contributor: Peter Khost