Below you will find different ways that you might employ your sources in the alternative arguments section of your research paper. Please read through the below and consider using any of these strategies in place of the ALTERNATIVE ARGUMENT-REBUTTAL sections of your first draft. We will discuss all questions on Tuesday, June 1st.
The point-by-point method
You may choose to imagine two of your alternative sources discussing one topic within a paragraph using the point-by-point method. For example, W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington had vastly different approaches to inclusivity with regard to higher education; while Dubois believed that universities should open their doors to talented black students, Washington believed that black students should be allowed to enter vocational schools (trade schools). A similar method can be used with your alternative sources and their approaches to your chosen topic.
Drawing battle lines
Present a pre-existing disagreement among scholars. This can be a debate that others have recognized, or it can be one you are identifying for the first time. Enter this debate by either choosing a side or proposing some middle position.
The following example presents two competing scientific hypotheses:
There are two main hypotheses for how Brightest Cluster Galaxies [BCGs]formed: monolithic collapse and hierarchical building (Collins et al. 104). Under the monolithic collapse model, the stars in the BCG formed all together, so the ages and metallicities of the stellar populations across the galaxy are relatively uniform. Meanwhile, according to the hierarchical building model, the galaxy built up through a number of smaller galaxies merging together. In this model, the different regions of the galaxies have varying ages and metallicities, since they formed in different parts of the Universe at different times.
Changing the question
Argue that scholars of your subject have been taking the wrong approach or asking the wrong question. Changing the terms of a scholarly debate can be a useful way of resolving a stalemate or advancing a field whose results have grown stagnant. Essentially you are saying: “the traditional questions have only taken us so far, but approaching the subject in a new way can produce more far-reaching results.” Consider how the following author seeks to reframe the standard approach to Jane Austen’s
Pride and Prejudice:
There has been a remarkable consensus about the terms which ought to be used to describe [Pride and Prejudice’s] antitheses. Again and again. . . we come upon some variation of the terms “individual” and
“society.” [quotes from three sources that read Pride and Prejudice in these terms] In the face of such a long-standing consensus of interpretation it may seem merely ingenious at this point in time to
question either the essential validity or the usefulness of this description of the novel. But in at least two important respects it seems open to objection.
This author does not reject the conclusions previous scholars have reached about the relationship between individual and society in Pride and Prejudice; he rejects the convention of analyzing the novel in these terms. In pointing out how he has changed the question, the author expands the scope of his essay. Its significance is not just factual, but methodological.
Make new knowledge by placing previously unacquainted sources in conversation with each other. This strategy can take two different forms: 1. you can seek a new understanding of your subject by examining it through a theoretical lens (e.g. what Henri Bergson’s theory of humor can show us about why Seinfeld is funny), or 2. you can bring ideas from one academic field to bear on another (e.g. what findings in psychology can show us about how individuals make economic choices).
What does it mean to be "American" in a country as diverse as the United States? Is the idea of American culture as a "melting pot" still valid? To what extent should recent immigrants be expected to trade ethnic or national identity for a new American identity? What might such an identity encompass, and how could it be obtained? What is gained, or lost, when immigrants become "Americanized"? Find a primary source (I might suggest a few) and opposing viewpoints to explore your claim in other contexts. Please also refer to one or more of the texts or essays that we have read this semester. Use Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as one source
The author of this example turns to religious studies to shed new light on a literary text:
Citing harsh portrayals of religious officials in the Canterbury Tales, scholars often conclude that the text is “fundamentally anti-religious” (Condren 75). These scholars’ views, however, fail to consider Catholicism within its historical context. Religion scholar, Gabriel Daly, claims that because religions evolve over time, one must distinguish between the “Catholicism of Medieval times and Catholicism at its inception” (Daly 778).
Theologian Richard McBrien takes this argument even further. . .
This author argues that looking at The Canterbury Tales using the terms of literary analysis has limited scholars’ perspective. He shakes up his subject by using knowledge from the field of religious history to provide a more complete understanding of Chaucer’s take on religion.