Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

PWR 1NC: From Green Cards to Gaming Avatars: Forms of Identity

Main content start

How is the “you” in your Instagram profile different from the “you” on your passport? Why does Taylor Swift’s album art present a different version of her than a Vanity Fair profile? What does someone’s DNA profile tell us about them that their driver’s license doesn’t? From code-switching speech patterns, to knowing what personal anecdote belongs in a group-text and what belongs in a college application essay, the different sites in which our identity manifests produce different versions of our selves.

In this class you’ll use research and writing to explore a form of identity that interests you, and think about how these forms’ restrictions are embraced or challenged by individuals. Students have previously asked questions including: how do tech entrepreneurs’ fashion choices uphold or undercut the industry’s prejudices?; what do SETI’s communications to outer space reveal about the people of earth?; how do hospital intake forms contribute to racially biased medical practices?; and how might gait recognition software negatively impact the LGBTQIA community?

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1500-1800 words; 5-6 pages) This assignment asks you to choose a text or object intended to identify an individual (e.g. a political ad, a music video, an immigration application, a confessional poem) and analyze how this text’s form determines its content.

Texts in Conversation Essay

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages) In this assignment, you will select a topic related to our course’s theme that interests you (some ideas include: law enforcement’s use of facial recognition software, Egyptian funerary masks, Syrian refugees’ legal papers, the portrait paintings of Yayoi Kusama, or nineteenth-century “freedom papers”) and read widely on this topic in order to understand the conversation around your topic and develop a compelling research question that will form the basis of your Research-Based Argument.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages) For the course’s culminating assignment, you will build on your “Texts in Conversation”, developing a provocative argument in response to your research question through the use of primary and secondary sources.