368642: Writing the Thinkpiece
- Summer 2019
- Section 1
- 3 Credits
- 07/03/2019 to 09/10/2019
- Modified 09/16/2019
Perhaps no genre is more shared, read, and critiqued than the online thinkpiece. As much as these essays capture and analyze the current cultural landscape, they are often misunderstood as quick, cheap, or reactionary. The truth is that the genre is malleable enough for any writer to find their footing and to craft their voice within its limits. Together, we define what a thinkpiece is and is not by reading some of its most well-known writers, including Roxane Gay, Kiese Laymon, and Rebecca Solnit. Then, we work on honing your voice, researching your argument and giving structure to your ideas. Participants walk away from the course with several pieces of polished work.
- Discern what constitutes a "thinkpiece"
- Learn the craft behind writing a thinkpiece and be able to identify tools to best suit your writing
- Develop an understanding of the news cycle and how to work off of it
- Learn research techniques that will make their writing more robust
- Analyze a number of works from the genre to be able to make any piece of writing a lesson in craft
- Write and rewrite works to promote the importance of critiquing one's own work
- Learn how to sell themselves to online publishers
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- write a timely, concise thinkpiece in relation to the news cycle
- identify cultural phenomena ripe for exploration in online writing
- write at least 6 thinkpieces on a variety of topics
- submit thinkpieces to appropriate outlets
All course materials are available online as either PDFs or URLs.
Students will be graded for their writing and critical thinking skills. Each week students are expected to:
- Read all assigned work and come ready to discuss it in class.
- Write an 800-word thinkpiece at home and hand it in before class the next week.
- Do a revision of one 800-word thinkpiece for the fourth and eighth assignments.
- Conceive, craft and execute a thinkpiece that identifies a cultural problem.
Each assignment will be graded using this rubric:
Nutrgraf/Thesis — 10 points
Argument/Analysis — 25 points
Research/data — 15 points
Structure/organization — 25 points
Writing style/voice — 15 points
Grammar/ sentence structure — 10 points
Late assignments policy:
Late assignments will lose 5 points per day, for up to 3 days. Assignments handed in more than 3 days late will not be accepted.
Although there are several practical reasons why you might enroll in this class for credit, many of you are not forcredit students. The opportunity to take the course without having to worry about a final grade can be a very good thing. For one, focusing on grades can sidetrack some students from creative exploration and learning through risktaking. In the worst cases, the student might pay more attention to the letter grade than the comments provided. When you enrolled in the course, you were asked to indicate whether you wanted to take the class for a grade or not. If you didn’t select an option, the choice defaulted to a letter grade. It is possible you are unwittingly taking the class for a grade, so doublecheck your status to make sure it reflects your intention.
You may request a grading status change anytime before the midpoint of this class by phoning the Registrar’s Office at (310) 8259971 or requesting a grading status change online by logging into “MyExtension” at www.uclaexension.edu. After the midpoint of this class (but before the instructor’s submission of final course grades) you should ask for the instructor’s approval of a status change.
|7 thinkpieces total (5 originals/ 2 revisions)||60 points total||
|Class participation/ discussion posts||15 points total||
Each week, you'll be asked to give your thoughts about one of the readings from the week. This part of your grade comes from completing the post each week.
|Final assignment||25 points total||
Your final assignment is a 1400-word thinkpiece due on the final day of class that incorporates a personal angle with research.
Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others or violation of others' copyrights. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with policy provisions which proscribe these and other forms of misconduct at: https://www.uclaextension.edu/pages/str/studentConduct.jsp
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About Your Online Course Materials
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||"What Is a Thinkpiece?"||
||Identifying an Issue||
||Reacing to the News Cycle||
Post: Responses to reading
||The Personal Is Political||
Post: Response to reading
||Personal Is Political Pt. 2||
Post: Response to reading
Write: Thinkpiece #5
Post: Responses to reading
Robyn Kanner -- "Running Away from Drinking Myself to Death," Jan 7, 2019, Vice https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wj339z/alcoholism-sobriety-running-this-is-fine
Tre'vell Anderson — "I Won't Apologize for Believing Jussie Smollett," Feb. 23, 2019, Out https://www.out.com/commentary/2019/2/23/op-ed-i-wont-apologize-believing-jussie-smollett
||Cultural Critique pt. 2||
Write: Thinkpiece #6
Post: Responses to reading
Roxane Gay -- "Girls Girls Girls," May 3, 2012, The Rumpus https://therumpus.net/2012/05/girls-girls-girls/
Michael Blackmon — "The Cultural Appropriation Conversation Around Ariana Grande Is Too Simplistic" February 15, 2019 https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/michaelblackmon/ariana-grande-cultural-appropriation-thank-u-next-7-rings
||Writing About Writing||
||This Media Moment||
Write: Final thinkpiece
Post: Responses to reading
Lewis Wallace — "Objectivity Is Dead and I'm Okay With It," January 27, 2017, Medium https://medium.com/@lewispants/objectivity-is-dead-and-im-okay-with-it-7fd2b4b5c58f
Soraya Roberts — "The Personal Essay Isn't Dead. It's Just No Longer White," The Walrus https://thewalrus.ca/the-personal-essay-isnt-dead-its-just-no-longer-white/