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Politics at the Dinner Table - ENG 2: The Assignment

This LibGuide is provided to assist you in developing a argumentative research paper that lies at the intersection of food and politics.

Politics at the Dinner Table

The Topic

The theme of this class is “Politics at the Dinner Table: How Food is Personal and Political”.  So far, you've explored this theme by looking at the ways in which an immigrant family struggled to reconcile their native eating habits with those of their adopted country (Essay 1) as well as the strategies used in the ongoing debate about whether or not it is a moral necessity to become a vegetarian (Essay 2).  For the third and final essay, you will need to research and form on argument a topic that lies at the intersection of food and politics.  That is to say, your topic should have something to do with food and the impact that political discussions and decisions can have on what we eat, how we eat and why we eat.


Your specific topic is up to you.  However, you should ensure that your topic is something that you are genuinely interested in and compelled by, as you will be reading and writing extensively on your topic for the next several weeks.  You may choose one of these topics or your own.  Once you have decided on a topic, I will need to approve it.  Some possible topics that fit within the theme are:


·         The international food trade

·         The U.N.’s position on food aide

·         The growing local/organic food movement

·         How food is regulated in a particular country

·         Food safety

·         Food movements (e.g. vegetarianism, veganism or the raw food movement)

·         New York City’s fast food laws


It should be stressed that this is an argumentative research paper.  That means that you need to make a claim, or an argument, about your given topic.  The purpose of this paper is not to write a report on your topic.  Instead, the purpose is to present a well-researched argument about your topic to your reader, and hopefully to convince them of the wisdom of your position.


The Research Process 

1.  Come up with a preliminary argument.  A preliminary argument is a claim you think you might make about your topic, and it can serve as a helpful starting place for your research.  However, because a preliminary argument is made before you have done any actual research, it is highly likely that your preliminary argument will change or become more nuanced as you come to know more about your topic.


2.  Come up with a research strategy.  What do you need to know to become an expert on your topic?  Where might you begin to look?  While some topics might lend themselves to an in depth exploration of government statistics, for example, others might require that you examine scholarly journals on nutrition or agriculture, and still others might require an extensive survey of the articles of contemporary food writers.  While this is a process you can and should begin on your own, we will be in the library the week of April 3rd to receive further guidance on finding and utilizing appropriate sources.

3.  Compile a 10-source annotated bibliography (due April 10).  Four of those sources must come from scholarly databases.  Four of those sources (although they can be a different four) must eventually be incorporated into the body of your argumentative paper and cited correctly.  All of the sources must be credible.  This means the sources must be appropriate for an academic setting as well as your topic.  Kinds of credible sources include:

  • Sources available through library shelves, academic/research databases, and research archives
  • Credible popular sources, such as periodicals indexed by LexisNexis and widely available texts whose information can be confirmed
  • Credible, stable URL's with identifiable individual or organizational authors; similarly broadcast radio and television (e.g., a student might cite NPR's "On the Media").
  • Credible, non-broadcast audio and video sources if available for corroboration; similarly, podcasts, vodcasts, and blogs (e.g., a student might cite a post from a political blogger linked to 

The Writing Process 

1.  Once you have finished researching your topic and compiling an annotated bibliography, revisit your argument and strengthen it.  Now that you are an “expert” on your topic, what compelling, sophisticated, insightful claim can you make about your topic? 

2.  Write an outline, due April 12.


3.  Write Draft 1, due April 17.


4.  Write Draft 2, incorporating my notes and your peers’ observations.  The final draft is due
     during the Final Exam period.


Your final assignment must include:


·         A 10-source annotated bibliography

·         A title page

·         A 7-page essay incorporating at least four of the sources from your bibliography

·         A Works Cited page

·         A photocopy of at least one source used for the researched argument (the parts of the source used for direct quotation or paraphrasing should be highlighted)


Subject Guide

Mary Kate Boyd-Byrnes's picture
Mary Kate Boyd-Byrnes
B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library
Room 237
720 Northern Boulevard
Brookville, NY 11548