The Inventory (4% or 40 points)
In this assignment, you are to:
Central to this process is developing your understanding of research beyond the way you hold it now. In this inventory, you must ask (and attempt responses to) the following questions:
It is imperative for you to locate the limits you are confronting in your current project or projects. The critical awareness of that which you ordinarily do not see--gaining access to that awareness promises to open the door for your project to unfold and develop as you enter the adventure of research, allowing an inquiry to open up new doors for you. In other words: We cannot invent until we are clear about what we have as "inventory."
The relationship between invention and inventory
The inventory should be at least 900 words (3-5 pages double spaced).
To investigate your inventory, we will use vocabulary drawn from McKee, Gallop, and Seitz and Rabinowitz.
As the common root of the words "invention" and "inventory," to "invent" means to "come into," "find out," "discover." Consequently, an "inventory" is what we have after we have invented. To be a bit more honest, however, the inventories we possess more often than not come from others we have inherited them from. And the degree to which we do not acknowledge this relationship, to that degree our creativity is impacted.
In any case, then, an inventory is what is already there, and our relationship to this inventory is that it is (mostly) at our disposal, waiting to be deployed toward those aims we are most concerned with. It helps us to accomplish what we aim to accomplish, but there are always limits and struggles along the way.
And so, you might be asking at this moment: "What kinds of things might I find in this so-called inventory?" and "How does my current inventory limit and constrain me?"
My answer is that you will not be finding "things," per se. Rather, you will be looking out for ways of seeing things, seeing the world, seeing your self. These ways of seeing (or projecting, as Gallop might word it) give us not only ourselves, the world, and things, but it also gives us the range of actions we might take given how we see our projects.
So, in this inventory, I invite you to explore what these ways are, especially concerning your current understanding of research:
A way into this inquiry is to ask: What projects are we already up to? What are the plans we have been pursuing and how have those plans worked out up to this point? That is, what have we accomplished, and what have we intended to accomplish but have yet to make happen? What is in the way?
The aim here is to begin to wean yourself of relying too heavily on an existing inventory of ways of seeing/projecting. Yes, we should take stock; but perhaps we ought to be much more engaged with inventing beyond what we already have in our inventory.
It is paramount to acknowledge the status of our inventory of ways of seeing/projecting; doing so reveals our limits, which awareness then goads us toward inventing anew. That is the purpose of this first assignment: to get a glimpse of what you don't already know, the knowing of which might allow you to invent new ways of seeing/projecting.
Composing this inventory will allow you to evaluate what you bring to light in the process, which in turn will permit you to begin the process of taking ownership (authorship) of your project, and to bring some critical reflection to it. The illumination that follows will, ideally, direct you toward taking specific actions that will involve research in a variety of ways.
In her book Invention in Rhetoric and Composition, Janice M. Lauer provides an initial definition of invention as encompassing, historically, "strategic acts that provide the discourser with direction, multiple ideas, subject matter, arguments, insights or probable judgments, and understanding of the rhetorical situation. Such acts include initiating discourse, exploring alternatives, framing and testing judgments, interpreting texts, and analyzing audiences" (2).