WR120 • The Mind’s Eye 

Academic Essay 1

In this class, you will be reading and writing about a variety of sources within the genre of academic

argument, which we can classify according to the following broad categories:

• Exhibit Sources: In our case, exhibit sources are the comics that you will be analyzing in your papers.

All of your major papers will focus on explaining and interpreting exhibit sources.

• Argument Sources: Argument sources will make arguments about those exhibit sources. You will find

yourself agreeing or disagreeing with argument sources, and assessing whether those argument sources

are useful for analyzing your exhibit sources. Your own papers will be argument sources.

• Background/Fact Sources: Fact sources will present facts about the material we are studying. You will

use fact sources to help you support your analyses of the exhibit sources. Facts can also provide

background and context for your claims. They may represent a set of agreed upon assumptions from

which the argument can proceed.

• Theory Sources: Theory sources will present general theories that are not specifically about your exhibit

sources, but may nevertheless be applicable to, and help you analyze, your exhibit sources.

• Method Sources: Method sources will present steps you can take to create and/or analyze data that

becomes your exhibit source.

Your task in your first major paper for this course will be to write a formal academic argument using

Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen as an exhibit source and Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics as a

theory and/or method source in your analysis—in other words, the McCloud will be the “lens” through

which you “view” Watchmen, and see it anew. As such, you will work inductively, rather than

deductively, in the sense of collecting a series of specific observations about the text, and then building a

general argument based on your examples. Your paper’s argument will grow out of your explanations for

the patterns you find in the text.

Remember that in crafting an argument, you will need to start from a question and a related claim/thesis

that is debatable, rather than a statement of fact or an observation. Your major claim/thesis will answer

that debatable question. Your paper should assess the impact and implications of the problems and

solutions raised in relation to that question. Together, we will focus on crafting debatable claims and

advancing well-supported arguments in this first paper.

In addition, you will be required use facts and background information from the documentary Comic

Book Confidential in your introduction to your paper. In order to prepare to do so, you will do a brief note

taking exercise as you watch the movie, and then write a brief summary that provides an overview of the

film (due later that evening).


Use a theory and/or method source as a lens to analyze an exhibit source, demonstrating your skills at

incorporating, contextualizing, interpreting, and organizing evidence effectively to support a complex and

compelling overarching argument. Use a background and/or fact source to help develop a context and

common ground for your readers.

Word Count: 1,500 words (approximately 4-5 pages double-spaced in a word processing program or

approximately 7-10 paragraphs) plus any additional pages/words needed for citations or a works cited


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