Writing Project 3: Unfamiliar Genre Project

DUE: Friday, Nov. 4, 2011
Proposal due Friday, Oct. 15, 2011

This research project asks you to explore a genre that you find challenging or unfamiliar but that you would like to learn more about. You will investigate, read in, and write in and about your chosen genre.

Picking a Genre

You should pick a genre that is unfamiliar or that feels daunting to you. To help you choose a truly unfamiliar genre, the quality of the final piece in the genre will only count for a portion of your final grade on this project. You may choose a genre from the list I gave you, or you may propose your one off the list. The only requirement is that it be nonfiction.


You will present your project in a folder or binder containing selections for the following:
1. A piece of original writing in the chosen genre (30%)
2. A reflective letter on how the final piece demonstrates your research as well as what you learned as a reader, writer, and researcher (10%)
3. A how-to instruction guide that explains the genre (10%)
4. An annotated bibliography of 5-10 samples that you read in the chosen genre with an analysis of the craft (conventions, style, structure, traits, strategies, and so forth) within the piece as an evaluation of its quality. The number of samples depends on their length, which may vary depending on the genre you choose. (30%)
5. A research journal where you keep track of your daily activities as well as your thoughts and feelings about each stage of the work (20%)

Reading in Your Unfamiliar Genre

One part of your research in this genre study is simply to read within the genre. You must collect the best five to ten samples of published work in your genre that you can find. (This means that you will be reading more than five to ten samples!) Read your samples carefully and think about the writer’s craft, structure, and unique strategies in each piece. You’ll create an annotated bibliography listing each of these models along with an annotation for each (see below). Consider what the collection as a whole teaches you about the genre: What are its characteristics? Where are its boundaries? In what way does this genre borrow from other genres? In what way do other genres borrow from it? You’ll synthesize these big-picture ideas in your how-to guide and reflective letter.

Writing in Your Unfamiliar Genre

The centerpiece of this project will be a finished piece in your chosen genre. You must take this piece through several drafts.

The Research Journal

Although research includes many steps, the order of these steps may vary, as in writing. You may jump right into a draft. Or you may first spend considerable time immersing yourself in reading in your genre. You may begin by journaling about your thoughts, plans, or fears about the project. This research journal is where you will record the steps in the order you actually take them. Whatever your process, metacognition (thinking about thinking) is an important part of this research project. Use this journal to keep track of your daily activities as well as your feelings about each stage of the work. You should write in this journal each time you work on the project.

How-To Guide

In the how-to guide, you will explain your chosen genre and analyze some aspects of writing in that genre: audience, purpose, content, organization, voice, etc. The guide is a kind of summary of your findings. The guide requires that you to provide an overview of the genre as well as an example from sample piece of writing in the genre.

Template for the how-to guide

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list (bibliography) of your model samples with a paragraph (annotation) of thoughtful observations about the way each model sample was written or crafted. You will write an annotation for each of the model samples you collect for your genre. Notice that the annotated bibliography counts for as much of your final grade as the finished piece in your genre.

Sample Annotated Bibliography

Reflective Letter

The last piece you’ll write for this project is your reflective letter. Consider your experience over the weeks of the project. Reread your journals, notes, and drafts. What have you learned about writing? What have you learned about studying genres and researching in general? Your reflective letter should discuss your experience with reading, writing, your research process, and metacognition. In each of these sections, make big-picture conclusions from your experience.

Research Folder or Binder

The final project will be presented in a folder or binder. It should be well organized and easy for a reader to navigate.


Rubric for Unfamiliar Genre Project