Maria Clara Bezerra wrote her exceptional research paper for WR 150: “Burning Questions,” an experimental section of WR 150 that asks students to pursue a semester-long research project on a topic of their choosing within the framework of “human expression.” The research project culminates in the contribution of a new perspective to the ongoing scholarly conversation about the chosen topic as expressed in a research paper and in a public intellectual essay. Clara’s research paper addresses the volatile issue of Westernization in Brazil and offers a well-informed, culturally-sensitive challenge to the prevailing idea that western influence has been a uniformly negative factor in the evolution of modern Brazilian society. Her paper demonstrates a thorough, considered response to varied genres of source material. Clara’s remarkably insightful thinking, combined with her personal interest in the subject of her native culture, allowed her internalize the idea of the conversational model of argumentation and motivated her to study the scholarship on her topic as a search for questions, rather than just answers. Her openness to new viewpoints and her commitment to classroom citizenship elevated her own experience in the course, as well as that of her peers.


WR 150: Burning Questions: Human Expression