Everyone wants to make an argument that matters—literarily, artistically, historically, politically, socially, culturally… the list goes on and on. For undergraduates just beginning their academic career, however, this is no easy task. The “so what?” factor is always looming over us, whether we’re writing a ten- to twelve-page research paper during freshman year or a several hundred-page thesis.
What’s the significance of my argument? What does it add to the scholarly conversation? How is what I’m saying new and exciting, not just to a scholarly audience, but also to the world? Framing tackles all these questions. It’s the art of contextualizing your argument in some broader sense that makes it fresh, meaningful, and perhaps even vital. But framing, although its proportions can be gigantic—in some cases changing the world and our understanding of it—is actually a very delicate process. Framing pervades almost every aspect of the well-written essay. Some common aspects include the orienting of key terms and context, the motive of the argument, and an extension of the thesis. But for all this theoretical ideating on what framing is and where it surfaces, it’s easiest to see how and where framing works when it’s in action. We’ve selected three essays that, in addition to developing a specific and refined argument, take their arguments to the next level by framing them within appropriate contexts—film, literature, philosophy, politics, and urban planning, to name a few.
In “Media Mediation in 1990s Slacker Comedies,” Sam Bollen ‘18 adeptly orients the reader to the scholarly and colloquial concept of “slacker,” applies this definition and its implications to the genre of slacker comedies, and undertakes a close reading of exemplars of the film genre with substantial explorations of outside sources. He thus turns a seemingly trendy and one-dimensional topic into a captivating and nuanced argument worthy of debate.
In “The Filtration Metaphor: An Analysis of Delays in New York’s Line Extension,” Jonah Hyman ’19 uses a case study of delays on the 7 line extension to present a new model to describe “megaproject forecasting and communication.” Jonah immerses himself into the case study, maintaining a focused objective of extrapolating the specifics of the study to future applicability.
Lastly, in “A Curious Case of Political Critique: The Detective Genre in Rodolfo Wash’s Operation Massacre,” Lara Norgaard ’17 engages in a close reading of Operation Massacre. But she goes beyond a close reading as well, investigating the surrounding political context of Argentina in the 1950s to ultimately classify the novel as a literary innovation and a critical form.