Entering a Conversation
This is our term for the work of establishing a context and motivation for your ideas.
More than simply a statement of your topic, entering a conversation entails letting the reader know which intellectual conversations you propose to join and what contribution you hope to make.Consider the following example from Curtis Chan’s final paper for the sophomore tutorial:
More than just a dance, b-boying is “performance,” to use a rather specific sense of a word that commonly evokes images of a stage or theater with choreographed lighting and sound. Richard Schechner, however, calls upon a broader notion of performance. Largely recognized as the founder of the academic, cross-disciplinary area of performance studies, Schechner writes that there is “no historically or culturally fixable limit to what is or is not ‘performance’” (2002:2). According to another performance theorist, Deborah Klens-Bigman, performance exists wherever an action is done for an audience, even if the audience is not before the performer but within the performer himself, By this notion, then, the way that b-boys walk, talk, and watch their fellow dancers is a performance.
In this passage, Chan first readies his conceptual tools by distinguishing commonsense and specialist notions of “performance” and by assimilating the practice of b-boying to the latter sense of the term. Now he is ready to use his ethnographic data on b-boying as a point of entry into a conversation with key figures in performance studies.