Published on February 21, 2014
Choosing a Topic Using Stasis Theory
Your Topic Should… • • • • Interest you—see if you can find something personally, academically, or professionally relevant. Be an issue of substance that can carry you through a 4-6 page, research-based report. Make an impact in the lives of specific communities of people that you can identify (remember that communities aren’t always geographically connected). Contain a debatable issue (or debatable issues) that allows you to examine multiple perspectives.
Don’t… • Choose a topic you have no interest in. • Choose a topic that has no relevance to people’s lives, and for which it is impossible to find research, different perspectives, or proposed solutions. • Approach this informative report as an opportunity to make a readymade point. This assignment calls for you to genuinely engage with multiple viewpoints.
Stasis Theory • Stasis theory is a four-question, pre-writing (invention) process developed in ancient Greece by Aristotle and Hermagoras (Brizee, 2013). • When considering a potential topic, ask yourself what questions and disagreements might occur in the following four categories. Will it be possible for you to present different viewpoints in stasis?
Fact • Did something happen? • What are the facts? • Is there a problem/issue? • How did it begin and what are its causes? • What changed to create the problem/issue? • Can it be changed? • • Where did we obtain our data and are these sources reliable? How do we know they're reliable? (Brizee, 2013).
Definition (The Meaning or Nature of the Issue) • What is the nature of the problem/issue? • What exactly is the problem/issue? • What kind of a problem/issue is it? • To what larger class of things or events does it belong? • What are its parts, and how are they related? • • Who/what is influencing our definition of this problem/issue? How/why are these sources/beliefs influencing our definition? (Brizee, 2013).
Quality (The Seriousness of the Issue) • Is it a good thing or a bad thing? • How serious is the problem/issue? • Whom might it affect (stakeholders)? • What happens if we don't do anything? • What are the costs of solving the problem/issue? • • Who/what is influencing our determination of the seriousness of this problem/issue? How/why are these sources/beliefs influencing our determination? (Brizee, 2013).
Policy (The Plan of Action) • Should action be taken? • Who should be involved in helping to solve the problem/address the issue? • What should be done about this problem? • What needs to happen to solve this problem/address this issue? • • Who/what is influencing our determination of what to do about this problem/issue? How/why are these sources/beliefs influencing our determination? (Brizee, 2013).
Six Journalistic Questions • Who? • What? • When? • Why? • How?
Achieving Stasis • “Achieving stasis means that parties involved in a dialogue about a given issue have reached consensus on (or agreed upon) the information and conclusions in one or more of the stases” (Brizee, 2013). • Consider whether potential topic choices will allow you to place different viewpoints in stasis. If stasis problems exist, that can itself be a source of discussion.
Guide to First-Year Composition Topic Suggestions • Border health issues, Lowering water tables, Arroyo flooding, Domestic violence, Children’s health, Childhood poverty, Colonias—poverty, Overpopulation of animals, Sports issues, Mental health issues, Education issues, Off-Shore drilling (oil), Marriage Equality, Immigration, Adolescent Cosmetic Surgery, Racism, Separation of Church and State, Internet Addiction, Ageism, Public School System, Access to Technology, Native American Issues (p. 170).
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