Cubing your inquiry

One way to explore your inquiry is to apply the techniques used in Cubism, an art movement of the early 20th century. Picasso is the most famous cubist painter, but the movement also influenced music and architecture. To look at your topic as a cubist you need to think of your subject from a multitude of viewpoints. Turn over your subject as you would a cube, looking at it six different ways. Complete this activity in any order, writing for five minutes on each. Your goal is to invent new ways of considering your subject.

Generalize about it. Consider what you learn from the experience. What does it suggest to you? What does it suggest about people in general or about the society in which you live?

Give examples of it. Illustrate your subject with specific examples. Think of what would help your readers understand the ideas you have about it.

Compare and contrast it. Think of a subject that compares with yours. Explore the similarities and differences.

Extend it. Take your subject to its logical limits. Speculate about its implications. Where does it lead?

Analyze it. Take apart your subject. What is it made of? How are the parts related to one another? Are they of equal importance?

Apply it. Think about your subject in practical terms. How can you use it or act on it? What difference would it make to you and to others?

adapted from Concise Guide to Writing