“Conversation” Papers

A “Conversation” Paper is NOT an essay!

In past classes, I found it helpful to make a point about this distinction.

An essay is “A short piece of writing on one subject, usually presenting the author’s own views” (Dictionary.com). The author in an essay would be YOU and the views would be YOURS. (It is also NOT a book review. That is another form of writing or reporting that gives an overview of the book and your view of its literary value. Not what I’m looking for.)

A conversation paper discussing the work or two or more authors does not present YOUR views. It presents the views of the authors referenced in the paper in relation to each other’s ideas.


In this course, there are four (4) short papers that put two books “into conversation” with each other. Your Reading Journals should provide you with the material you need to pull these together — paying attention to the kinds of quotes you use there will result in a great deal more to work with here.

Length 500 to 750 words (2-3 pages)
Sources Minimum of two texts. You may also include secondary sources.
Research Provided by reading the texts.
AT LEAST one major connection between the two authors’ ideas.
AT LEAST one citation from each author/text in each paragraph.
Format Google doc created by YOU and shared with me.
PLEASE use this convention for the filename of your paper:
YOURLASTNAME – COMM365 – # (of paper)
ex. SMITH – COMM365 – 1
Times New Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced, 1-inch margins.
APA Citation Style, VERY few (no more than 4) spelling and grammar errors. See Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) APA Style Guide.

NOTE: Any use of the term NOVEL to describe a work of NON-FICTION will result in an automatic NO PASS.

Conversation Paper #1

Neil Postman suggests that we are in a Huxlean world, and perhaps that view is confirmed by The Circle.

Choose ONE of the fictional works we have read:

  • Brave New World OR The Circle

and put it in conversation with Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Conversation Paper #2

Neil Postman presents a media ecology approach to looking at media technology. Clay Shirky specifically looks at the sociological impacts of social technologies.

Put Amusing Ourselves to Death in conversation with  Cognitive Surplus

Conversation Paper #3

Sherry Turkle has spent the last two decades watching emerging technologies from a front row seat at the “altar of technology”—MIT. Nicholas Carr has been monitoring the social impact of digital technologies since the publication of his NY Times best seller and finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Both are deeply concerned about the effects of automation on ourselves and our society.

Put The Glass Cage in conversation with Alone Together.

Conversation Paper #4

Neil Postman takes a long view of technology in his work—Douglas Rushkoff has been an observer of digital media technology for decades. You may have seen his documentaries: “Digital Nation” and “Generation Like”.

Put Technopoly and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus in conversation with each other. How do the two novels we read at the beginning (Brave New World and The Circle) relate to these works? Include some thoughts about that in your final paragraph.