Writing Project #3: Researched Argument and Critical Essay

Writing Project #3: Researched Argument and Critical Essay

We have spent significant time in this course learning how to respond to, analyze and synthesize information and ideas. For the final formal writing assignment of the semester you will draw on those same skills to help you form an argument of your own in response to a focused research question. You will draw on ideas from the classes core reading, alongside your own research, ideas and experiences to help shape your argument—the purpose of your argument should be to negotiate a solution to a problem. You will consider your own claim alongside counter or opposing viewpoints and attempt to find a common ground. Your voice should dominate this essay; use research sources as support for your ideas.

Skills: The purpose of English 111 is to help you develop and practice writing and thinking skills essential to your success in college and in your professional life beyond school. Drawing on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains, we will focus on developing writerly “moves” that characterize strong written communication. This assignment will ask you to practice the following writing skills: Analyzing, Evaluating, and Synthesizing.

Knowledge: This assignment will draw from knowledge in most of the course learning objectives for English 111, but particular focus will be on developing skills in the following:

(1) Compose texts that exhibit appropriate rhetorical choices, including attention to audience, purpose, context, genre, culture, and convention.
(4) Analyze and synthesize researched information to develop and support original claims.
(7) Employ correct techniques of style, formatting, and documentation when incorporating quotes, paraphrases, and summaries from sources into compositions.
Now that you have synthesized the ideas of multiple sources on a common theme, you might begin to consider other areas in your life where you might apply this information.

For this final writing project, you will write a researched argument about an issue affecting your future career field, your major field, your community or an issue described in the readings you’ve done from the book. This paper is your own argument, but you should take into account what you’ve learned during this course: begin by showing the conversation your paper is responding to (“they say”), have a clear statement of your own argument (“I say”), include quotes and incorporate them smoothly, point out possible objections to your argument, use appropriate transitions, and explain why the issue matters. You might also con- sider adding metacommentary and finding ways to include your own voice even though this is academic writing.

Below is a possible structure for this argument. you will compose a thesis statement, support your thesis with evidence from your research and address a counter argument.

One Strategy for Organizing an Argument-the Classical Argument:
Cast your memory to what you know about the Golden Age of Greece. . . . remember those clever Greeks formed one of the world’s first democracies. Because they were not blessed with the printing presses of the marvels of television or the internet, they relied on oratory (speech) as the prime way of communicating with and persuading voters. Over time, Aristotle and his cronies (the classical rhetoricians) noticed the most successful and persuasive orators tended to structure their speeches in fairly regular ways. Very thoughtfully, Aristotle recorded a “map” of those arrangements for posterity:

Opening (Exordium): Gains the audience’s attention and interest.
Background (Narratio): Provides the context or history of the situation.
Definition of Issues (Explicatio): Defines or limits terms and explains issues.
Thesis (Partitio): States the position that is to be argued.
Proof (Confirmatio): Supports and develops the thesis.
Refutation (Refutatio): Answers opposing arguments.
Conclusion (Peroratio): Summarizes the arguments (if appropriate) and sometimes urges the audience to action.
Aristotle taught his students the most important parts of a speech (or in our case, an essay) are the opening, the thesis, the proof, and the conclusion; the only necessary parts for all occasions or purposes, or all readers are the thesis and proof.

Remember that this classical arrangement is a guide, not a rigid form to follow. As writers tackle new projects, they make their own decisions about which of these “parts” best suits the rhetorical context for their writing assignment. Contemplating purpose and audience helps writers make those decisions.