Writing Prompt: “Surfacing Subcultures”


Assignment Title: Surfacing Subcultures

Author: Maseri Schultz, California State University Northridge (maseri.schultz@csun.edu)

Date published: August, 2022

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Class Info/Tags: First-Year Composition, Face-to-Face, Synchronous, Composition Studies

Course Motivation: To prepare students for college-level argumentation, paragraph development, and academic research.

Context of Use: I assign 3 major essays every semester: two textual analyses and a formal research paper. “Surfacing Subcultures” is a research-based argumentative essay that asks students to inspect the misconceptions about an American subculture, and reveal the hidden truths or beauties about it. These discussion points help students practice dissecting a counterargument, as well as integrating scholarly research to support both sides of the issue. Beyond writing, this prompt teaches students how to identify misconceptions and think critically about their own assumptions regarding the world around them.

Instructor Reflection: Leading up to this assignment, students should learn how to generate a counterargument, integrate it into their thesis statement, and write a counterargument paragraph. They should also learn how to find peer-reviewed journal articles and utilize them to support their points. To scaffold research, I typically assign an annotated bibliography beforehand. For the version of the assignment with a research question, students will also need to learn how to generate a strong research question. I love this project because students typically choose subcultures they’re part of, and produce stronger writing when they’re personally invested in the subject. They are excited to explore their own identities in an academic setting!

About Author

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English & Education at the University of Michigan, where she also teaches in the English Department Writing Program. Her research interests include digital rhetoric, gender and discourse, and gaming studies. Her dissertation project explores how women use multimodal discourse—grammatically, narratively, and visually—to navigate online gaming ecologies.

Jennifer Burke Reifman

Jennifer Burke Reifman is a 5th year Education Ph.D. Candidate at U.C. Davis with an emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. Her research focuses on technology in the writing classroom, writing program administration, and student identity and agency. When she isn't being a graduate student and writing teacher, she spends most of her time playing with her 3-year old son, tending her backyard garden, or diving into a video game.