Paper details Foer had his turn; now it is your turn. How are you going to add to the conversation? Think of this essay assignment (and most other academic papers) as part of a conversation. First, you need to show that you heard what the other person said on the topic; this establishes your credibility by showing that you are a courteous conversationalist (you know, one who doesn’t make up their mind before hearing you out or one who bases their response upon assumptions and prejudice rather than upon what you actually said). After showing what others said on the topic, it is your turn to make your contribution to the conversation. What do you want to say? Responding to the following questions will help you formulate your ideas and create a rough outline that you can use for your essay. 1. Focus. You can’t respond to everything Foer said, so you have to pick a specific topic that you want to focus in on. What is your topic? Why do you want to focus on this topic? What is it about this topic that interests you? 2. They say. What does Foer have to say about this topic? locate and write down the page numbers of 3-5 specific instances where Foer discusses this topic. Include a one sentence interpretation of what he says for each passage. 3. I say. How are you going to progress this conversation? What do you have to say? (Below is a list of some ways to contribute to the conversation). In one paragraph, tell me about what direction your essay will take this discussion. It is important in this step to make a solid connection between what Foer said and what you will say. Explain that connection to me. 4. Proof. Your contribution to the conversation needs to be based upon verifiable evidence. How are you going to prove your points? Don’t tell me about what you plan to find out — I don’t want any promises or good intentions. Instead, tell me what evidence you already have to support your points. Give me 3-5 of your best pieces of evidence that will prove your points. 5. Multiple Perspectives. Your essay needs to demonstrate that you consulted various perspectives regarding your topic. Identify at least three different perspectives that your essay will discuss. Explain to me how these perspectives differ from each other. Some possible ways to contribute to the conversation: Modernize: bring us up to date; show what current research (more recent than the book’s pub. date) adds to this topic; does it weaken his argument? strengthen it? Historicize: provide historical background and context that is missing from Foer’s discussion; how does that deeper historical knowledge affect his argument? weaken it? strengthen it? alter it? complicate it? Refute: show how Foer is wrong; show how his policy (boycott) won’t work; show how the problem (factory farms) aren’t really a problem; show how his facts or logic are incorrect. Defend: respond to negative criticism of Foer’s argument; try to defend his argument (or a similar one) against the strongest attacks leveled against it. Complicate: show how the situation Foer describes is more complicated than he makes it sound; use your research to show how a deeper understanding of the situation affects his argument: weaken and/or strengthen. Develop: take a topic that Foer under-develops and develop it more completely, and then explain how this more complete understanding of the topic affects his argument. Extend: show how the problem Foer discusses in his book is also true in other contexts. Here are some possible example topics: animal treatment as pets, entertainment, clothing or science; plant agriculture; food labeling in general; corporate secrecy regarding foods (GMO’s); government interference in the economics of food; food safety in general.