Composition I: Course Syllabus Course: Composition I text: To the Point: Reading Period, Location



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Composition I: Course Syllabus


Course: Composition I Text: To the Point: Reading

Period, Location: and Writing Short

Instructor: Arguments, Muller

Instructor's phone, e-mail: and Wiener,

Office: Longman Publishers

Office hours:

Course Objectives:


  • To demonstrate the ability to analyze an argumentative text




  • To demonstrate the ability to compose arguments that incorporate identifiable forms and include a variety of patterns of development




  • To demonstrate the ability to incorporate external sources that support and develop an argument




  • To demonstrate the ability to use parenthetical citations and to prepare a Works Cited page that conforms to MLA format


Course Assignments:


  • In-class exercises related to course readings




  • Peer workshops




  • Six argumentative papers




  • Two papers without external sources, 500-750 words

  • Two papers with three external sources, 750-1,000 words

  • Two papers with five external sources and visuals, 1,000-1,500 words

Grading Standards:


  • A, or excellent, paper includes the following characteristics:




  • Appropriate response to all parts of the assignment

  • Original insight into the topic

  • Unambiguous thesis presented in introduction

  • Full support and development of thesis

  • Presentation and refutation of opposition position

  • Skillful incorporation of external sources

  • Precise vocabulary

  • Varied syntax

  • Consistent control of grammar and usage




  • B, or good, paper includes the following characteristics:




  • Appropriate response to the assignment

  • Clear thesis presented in introduction

  • Effective support and development of thesis

  • Presentation and refutation of opposition position

  • Effective incorporation of external sources

  • Good vocabulary

  • Control of grammar and usage but not flawless




  • C, or average, paper includes the following characteristics:




  • Adequate response to the assignment

  • Thesis presented in introduction

  • Adequate support and development of thesis

  • Presentation of opposition position

  • Adequate incorporation of external sources

  • Some lapses in diction or syntax

  • Uneven control of grammar and usage




  • D, or poor, paper includes the following characteristics:




  • Inadequate response to the assignment; may have omitted one or more parts

  • Thesis presented in introduction

  • Inadequate support and development of thesis

  • Ineffective use of external sources

  • Frequent errors in diction or syntax

  • Lack of control of grammar and usage




  • F, or failing, paper includes the following characteristics:




  • Apparent misunderstanding of assignment

  • Missing or confusing thesis

  • Inadequate or inappropriate support and development

  • Missing or misuse of external sources

  • Consistent lack of control of diction, syntax, grammar, and/or usage

  • Plagiarized work



Course Policies:


  • Mutual respect is to be practiced at all times. Ideas, not personalities or individuals, are to be the focus of the arguments.




  • Regular attendance is required to maximize both individual understanding of the material and to participate in the writer's community composed of all class members.




  • Material appearing on the syllabus is to be prepared for discussion on the date listed.




  • Late papers will be penalized one letter grade for each day past the due date unless previous arrangements have been made.




  • Individual conferences during the instructor's scheduled office hours will be scheduled to discuss concerns regarding class performance.

Week I Reading Arguments, Chapter 1, To the Point



Why Argue

The Vocabulary of Argument

Justifying an Argument

Aristotle and the Appeal to Reason

Emotional and Ethical Appeals

Toulmin Arguments

The Uses of Evidence
Choose two selections from "Five Current Issues" to model elements of reading arguments. Discuss these selections in the class, stressing the appropriate elements outlined in Chapter 1.
Exercise 1-1: In open discussion, have students answer the questions in Exercise 1-1 orally, using one of the models presented in class.
Exercise 1-2: Have students answer the questions in Exercise 1-2 individually, using the second reading assignment modeled in class.
Exercise 1-3: Place students in small groups of three to five students and have them answer the questions in Exercise 1-3, using a reading selection from "Five Current Issues" that was not modeled in class.
Exercise 1-4: Have students individually answer questions from Exercise 1-4, using a selection from "Five Current Issues" that was not modeled in class or used in the small-group project.
Week 2: Writing Arguments, chapter 2
The Writing Process

First Steps: Prewriting

Identifying Issues

Limiting Your Topic

Taking a Position

Knowing Your Purpose and Audience

Making a Claim in Your Thesis

Supporting Your Claim

Checking Your Assumptions (or Warrants)

Meeting the Opposition

Avoiding Traps in Appeals and Logic
Choose a selection from "Perspectives on Love and Marriage: Reading and Writing About a Critical Issue" to model analysis of elements of a written argument. Pay particular attention to the author's thesis and its support.
Exercise 2-1: Using the reading assignment modeled in class, lead the students in an open discussion to answer the questions in Exercise 2-1.
Exercise 2-2: Place students into small groups of three to five participants to answer the questions in Exercise 2-2, using a selection from "Perspectives on Love and Marriage…" not modeled and discussed in class.
Writing Assignment 1: Compose a brief argument, 500-750 words in length, on an aspect of Love and Marriage that identifies and incorporates significant elements of a persuasive paper. Select a topic from the following list to use as the basis for developing an appropriate thesis. The paper should include a clearly stated thesis in the introduction and provide a minimum of three points of support for development. No external sources are required for this paper, but if a student chooses to use them, both the parenthetical citations and the entries on the Works Cited page should conform to MLA format.


Weeks 3-4: Patterns of Argument, Chapter 3

Argument through Narrative

Argument through Description

Argument through Illustration

Argument through Comparison and Contrast

Argument through Definition

Argument through Process Analysis

Argument through Causal Analysis

Argument through Classification

Mixing Patterns


Choose four essays from those listed to use as models of specific types of argumentative development. Using these models as examples to note the differences among the patterns of development.
Exercise 3-1: Place students in small groups of three to five participants to answer the questions on Exercise 3-1, using a pattern of development not modeled in earlier class discussion.
Exercise 3-2: Have individual students answer the questions on Exercise 3-2.
Writing Assignment 2: Compose a brief argument, 500 to 750 words in length, that incorporates at least three patterns of development listed in Chapter 3. Select a topic from the following list to use as the basis for developing an appropriate thesis. The paper should include a thesis in the introduction of the paper and provide a minimum of three points of support for development. No external sources or visuals are required for this paper, but if a student chooses to include them, both the parenthetical citations and entries on the Works Cited page should conform to MLA format.

Weeks 5-6: Contemporary Debates, Part 2, Chapters 4-9
Rap Culture: Is It Too Negative?, 4

College Sports: Should There Be Equal Rights Between the Sexes, 5

Animal Rights: Should They Compromise Human Needs?, 6

Immigration: Should We Limit It?, 7

Affirmative Action: What Role Should It Play in Our Lives?, 8

Capital Punishment: Should We Take a Human Life?, 9


Note: Part 2 focuses on "pro/con" arguments limited to two primary views. While few questions actually have only two identifiable opinions or conclusions, this dualistic pattern is nevertheless useful for beginning analysis of an argument. Students should be cautioned, however, that while this pro/con approach may represent the beliefs of many people, there are other views—many equally valid—that are not being considered.
Choose two contemporary debates from those listed to model as examples of pro/con arguments; that is, arguments that consider only two points of view. During analysis of these models, refer to and review pertinent information in Chapter 1 (The Vocabulary of Argument, Emotional and Ethical Appeals, and The Uses of Evidence) and Chapter 2 (Identifying Issues, Taking a Position, Supporting Your Claim, and Meeting the Opposition).
Exercise 4-1: Place students into small groups of three to five students to answer questions on Exercise 4-1, using a contemporary debate topic not modeled for the class.
Exercise 4-2: Have individual students answer the questions on Exercise 4-2, using a contemporary debate topic not modeled for the class or used in the small-group project.
Writing Assignment 3: Compose an argument, 750-1,000 words in length, that takes a position about a contemporary debate that has not been discussed in class. The paper should present a thesis in the introduction and include a minimum of three points of support for development. The supporting evidence should be presented in a mixed pattern of development (review the patterns in Chapter 3). The view that opposes your thesis should be briefly explained and refuted. A minimum of three external sources are required for this paper; these sources can be used as support for either side of the argument. Parenthetical citations and entries for the Works Cited page must follow MLA format. Though not required, you may also include visual support for your text.


Weeks 7-9: Perspectives on Critical Issues, Part 3, chapters 10-16
The Internet: What Are the Prospects for Cyberspace?, 10

Work, Money, and Class: Who Benefits?, 11

The Media: Do We Control It, or Does It Control Us?, 12

Education: How Do We Teach and Learn?, 13

The Environment: How Can We Preserve It?, 14

Human Rights: Why Does Society Need Them?, 15

Terrorism: How Should We Meet the Challenge?, 16
Note: Part 3 focuses on mediated arguments that present alternate points of view and attempt to reconcile differences by presenting a third position acceptable to those on both sides of the arguments. Reviewing the Toulmin Arguments, Chapter 1, would be a productive way to introduce this type of argumentative development.
Choose two critical issues from those listed in Part 3 to use as models for the mediated argument. During discussion, contrast the difference between taking an exclusive position that remains unchanged and finding a third position that is acceptable to those who initially held opposing views.
Exercise 5-1: Lead the class in a discussion that identifies the initial opposing views of an argument that is being modeled and identifying the mediated view that may be acceptable to those on initially contrasting sides of the argument. Have students suggest other mediated positions that may be acceptable as a resolution to those who hold opposing views.
Exercise 5-2: Place students in small groups of three to five students to answer the questions on Exercise 5-2, using a selection from critical issues that has not been modeled in class.
Writing Assignment 4: Compose an argument, 750-1,000 words in length, that offers a mediated position between two opposing views. Select a topic from the list of critical issues that has not been used in class. The paper should include a thesis in the introduction. The body of the paper should include at least two opposing views of the topic being considered and a third, mediated position that can be accepted by those who support the original, opposing views. The paper is to include a minimum of three external sources that held develop one of the three positions. Parenthetical citations and entries on the Works Cited page must follow MLA format. While not required, visuals and graphics may be included for support.

Weeks 10-12: Five Classic Arguments, Part 4
"The Allegory of the Cave," Plato

"A Modest Proposal," Swift

"Professions for Women," Woolf

"The Obligation to Endure," Carson

"I Have a Dream," King
Note: The classical argument includes elements and terminology often omitted in other types of argument. Inclusion of a specific form of development and organization, types of support, and precise use of logic are all hallmarks of this type of argument. Review of specific parts of Chapter 1 (The Vocabulary of Argument, Aristotle and the Appeal to Reason, and Emotional and Ethical Appeals) and Chapter 2 (Knowing Your Purpose and Audience, Meeting the Opposition, and Avoiding Traps in Appeals and Logic) will help clarify these differences.
Choose two of the five classic arguments to use as models for the classical argument. During discussion, have the class identify the parts of the argument that are considered characteristic of the classical form. Define terms, such as ethos, pathos, and logos, that may be unfamiliar to the class. Note the precise organizational patterns of the selections as well as the language and syntactical choices used to appeal to the audience.
Exercise 6-1: Using the questions from Exercise 6-1, lead the class in a discussion that identifies the specific parts of the classical argument.
Exercise 6-2: Place students into small groups of three to five students to answer the questions on Exercise 6-2, using one of the five classic arguments not modeled in class.
Writing Assignment 5: Compose an argument, 1,000-1,500 words in length, that is presented in the classical form. Using one of the five classic arguments that has not been used in class, develop a thesis that is included in the introduction of the paper. Carefully consider the effect of the ethos, pathos, and logos of the support that you use to develop the thesis. The body of the paper must present and refute the opposition view as well as the support of your own thesis. This paper will include a minimum of five external sources that help develop your thesis or attempt to explain the opposition. Parenthetical citations as well as entries on the Works Cited page must conform to MLA format. In addition, this paper will include at least one example of visual support such as a graphic, table, or chart.

Weeks 13-15: A Casebook on Americans' Eating Habits: Are We What We Eat?, Part 5
"We're Fatter but Not Smarter," Brownlee

"Don't Blame the Eater," Zinczenko

"Diet for Stress," Comedy Central Jokes

"The McNugget of Truth in Lawsuits Against Fast-Food Restaurants,"

Cohen

"McGriddles Breakfast Sandwiches," McDonald's USA

"The Fat Tax: A Modest Proposal," Rauch

"Trick or Treat," Chast

"The Body of the Beholder," Ingrassia

Cover, April 2003, Self Magazine



"The Joy of Eating," Walljasper

Weight Loss Guide

"The Culture of Thin Bites Fiji," Goodman

"Waifs on the Web," Mackeen


Choose selections from the casebook to use as models to demonstrate both the definition of casebook and to review various approaches to developing an argument. Note the similarities of each argument--an identifiable thesis, support of the thesis, presentation and refutation of an opposition view—as well as the differences—organizational approaches, patterns of development, and types of audience appeals.
Exercise 7-1: Using three or four models from the casebook, lead the class in a discussion that (1) identifies the primary elements of each argument, (2) contrasts the differences in the arguments, and (3) determines the most and least effective argument.
Exercise 7-2: Place students in small groups of three to five students to answer the questions on Exercise 7-2, using three selections from the casebook that have not been discussed in class.
Writing Assignment 6: Compose an argument, 1,000 t0 1,500 words in length, that is supported by a casebook approach. Choose a topic other than "American Eating Habits" and develop a thesis that is presented in the introduction of your paper. Within the body of the paper, briefly annotate the articles that you used to support your argument. Remember to present and refute the opposition view to your argument. This paper will include a minimum of five external sources to support your thesis or explain the opposition's view. Parenthetical citations and entries on the Works Cited page must follow the MLA format. In addition, this paper will include a minimum of one example of visual support, such as a graphic, table, or chart.

To the Point: Reading and Writing Short Arguments

Class Exercises

Exercise 1-1: In open discussion, have the students answer the following questions orally using one of the models presented in class:


  1. Identify the thesis or claim the author presents in this argument.

  2. Identify the examples of primary support the author uses to support and develop the thesis.

  3. Identify any opposing view the author includes in the essay. In what way is this view refuted?

  4. Identify any elements that undermine the effectiveness of this essay. Consider the types of evidence, the appropriateness of the support, the organization of the argument, and the logic of the statements when answering this question.

  5. What is the most effective element of the argument? Are the examples particularly striking, is the language especially well handled, is it sufficiently presented to persuade the reader to accept the author's view?


Exercise 1-2: Have the students individually answer the following questions, using the second reading assignment modeled in the class.


  1. Identify the thesis or claim the author presents in this argument.

  2. Identify the examples of primary support the author uses to support and develop the thesis.

  3. Identify any opposing view the author includes in the essay. In what way is this view refuted?

  4. Identify any elements that undermine the effectiveness of this essay. Consider the types of evidence, the appropriateness of the support, the organization of the argument, and the logic of the statements when answering this question.

  5. What is the most effective element of the argument? Are the examples particularly striking, is the language especially well handled, is it sufficiently presented to persuade the reader to accept the author's view?


Exercise 1-3: Place students into small groups of three to five students, and have them answer the following questions using a reading selection from "Five Current Issues" that was not modeled in class.


  1. Identify the thesis or claim the author presents in this argument.

  2. Identify the examples of primary support the author uses to support and develop the thesis.

  3. Identify any opposing view the author includes in the essay. In what way is this view refuted?

  4. Identify any elements that undermine the effectiveness of this essay. Consider the types of evidence, the appropriateness of the support, the organization of the argument, and the logic of the statements when answering this question.

  5. What is the most effective element of the argument? Are the examples particularly striking, is the language especially well handled, is it sufficiently presented to persuade the reader to accept the author's view?



Exercise 1-4: Have students individually answer the following questions, using a selection from "Five Current Issues" that was not modeled in class or used in small-group project.


  1. Identify the thesis or claim the author presents in this argument.

  2. Identify the examples of primary support the author uses to support and develop the thesis.

  3. Identify any opposing view the author includes in the essay. In what way is this view refuted?

  4. Identify any elements that undermine the effectiveness of this essay. Consider the types of evidence, the appropriateness of the support, the organization of the argument, and the logic of the statements when answering this question.

  5. What is the most effective element of the argument? Are the examples particularly striking, is the language especially well handled, is it sufficiently presented to persuade the reader to accept the author's view?



Exercise 2-1: Using the reading assignment modeled in class, lead the students in an open discussion to answer the following questions.


  1. Locate the thesis of the argument and identify its two parts: (1) factual basis for the claim, and (2) author's opinion about the subject.

  2. Identify the primary audience targeted for this argument and suggest the characteristics of its members: (1) age, (2) educational level, (3) gender, (4) race, (5) culture, (6) regional identity, and (7) familiarity with subject.

  3. Identify the primary support for the author's claim.

  4. Identify the opposition position and show how the author refutes it.

  5. Rate this argument's effectiveness in terms of persuading the audience to accept the author's view.


Exercise 2-2: Place students into small groups of three to five participants to answer the following questions, using a selection from "Perspectives on Love and Marriage…" not modeled and discussed in class.


  1. Locate the thesis of the argument and identify its two parts: (1) factual basis for the claim (2) author's opinion about the subject.

  2. Identify the primary audience targeted for this argument and suggest the characteristics of its members: (1) age, (2) educational level, (3) gender, (4) race, (5) culture, (6) regional identity, and (7) familiarity with subject.

  3. Identify the primary support for the author's claim.

  4. Identify the opposition position and show how the author refutes it.

  5. Rate this argument's effectiveness in terms of persuading the audience to accept the author's view.


Exercise 3-1: Place students in small groups of three to five participants to answer the questions below, using a pattern of development not modeled in earlier class discussions.


  1. Identify the thesis or claim of this argument.

  2. Identify the primary pattern of development that this argument includes for support. Next, list the main characteristics of this pattern of development.

  3. If a mixed pattern of development is used, identify the different types that are included. Next, list the main characteristics of each pattern of development that is used.

  4. Identify two strengths or most effective elements of this argument. Next, identify the weakest or least effective part of this argument.

  5. Why (or why not) did this argument persuade you to accept the author's view?



Exercise 3-2: Have individual students answer the following questions using a pattern of development not modeled in class or used in the small-group exercise.



  1. Identify the thesis or claim of this argument.

  2. Identify the primary pattern of development that this argument includes for support. Next, list the main characteristics of this pattern of development.

  3. If a mixed pattern of development is used, identify the different types that are included. Next, list the main characteristics of each pattern of development that is used.

  4. Identify two strengths or most effective elements of this argument. Next, identify the weakest or least effective part of this argument.

  5. Why (or why not) did this argument persuade you to accept the author's view?



Exercise 4-1: Place students into small groups of three to five students to answer the following questions, using a contemporary debate topic not modeled for the class.


  1. Identify the thesis or claim of this argument. What is the factual basis of this claim, and what is the author's opinion about this subject?

  2. Summarize the primary points of support used to develop this argument.

  3. Identify the opposition view presented in this argument, and explain how the author refutes this view.

  4. Identify the primary audience targeted for this argument. What characteristics do they have: (1) age, (2) gender, (3) educational level, (4) race, (5) culture, (6) regional identity, and (7) familiarity with subject?

  5. Why (or why not) would the argument persuade the opposition audience to accept the author's view?


Exercise 4-2: Have individual students answer the following questions, using a contemporary debate topic not modeled for the class or used in the small group project.


  1. Identify the thesis or claim of this argument. What is the factual basis of this claim and what is the author's opinion about this subject?

  2. Summarize the primary points of support used to develop this argument.

  3. Identify the opposition view presented in this argument and explain how the author refutes this view.

  4. Identify the primary audience targeted for this argument. What characteristics do they have: (1) age, (2) gender, (3) educational level, (4) race, (5) culture, (6) regional identity, and (7) familiarity with subject?

  5. Why (or why not) would the argument persuade the opposition audience to accept the author's view?



Exercise 5-1: Lead the class in a discussion that identifies the opposing views of an argument. The discussion should also identify the mediated view that may be acceptable to those on initially contrasting sides of the argument. Have students suggest other mediated positions that may be acceptable as a resolution to those who hold opposing views.

Exercise 5-2: Place students in small groups of three to five students to identify the opposing views and the mediated view of a selection from critical issues that has not been modeled in class.

Exercise 6-1: Using the following questions as a guide, lead the class in a discussion that identifies the specific parts of the classical argument.


  1. Identify the thesis of claim of the argument.

  2. Identify and summarize the primary points of support used to develop the author's claim.

  3. Identify the opposition view presented in the argument.

  4. Discuss how the author refutes the opposition view.

  5. Identify and summarize an example of ethos, pathos, and logos used in the argument.



Exercise 6-2: Place student into small groups of three to five students to answer the following questions, using one of the five classic arguments not modeled in class.


  1. Identify the thesis of claim of the argument.

  2. Identify and summary the primary points of support used to develop the author's claim.

  3. Identify the opposition view presented in the argument.

  4. Discuss how the author refutes the opposition view.

  5. Identify and summarize an example of ethos, pathos, and logos used in the argument.



Exercise 7-1: Using three or four models from the casebook, lead the class in a discussion that answers the following questions:


  1. Identify the primary elements of each argument.

  2. Contrast the differences in the (1)organizational patterns, (2) types and amount of support, and (3) audience appeals used in each type of argument.

  3. Determine the most and least effective argument considered.



Exercise 7-2: Place students into small groups of three to five students to answer the following questions, using three selections from the casebook that have not been discussed in class.


  1. Identify the primary elements of each argument.

  2. Contrast the differences in the (1)organizational patterns, (2) types and amount of support, and (3) audience appeals used in each type of argument.

  3. Determine the most and least effective argument considered.


To The Point: Reading and Writing Short Arguments

Writing Assignments

Writing Assignment 1: Compose a brief argument, 500-750 words in length, on an aspect of Love and Marriage that identifies and incorporates significant elements of a persuasive paper. Select a topic from the following list to use as the basis for developing an appropriate thesis. The paper should include a clearly stated thesis in the introduction and provide a minimum of three points of support for development. No external sources are required for this paper, but if a student chooses to use them, both the parenthetical citations and the entries on the Works Cited page should conform to MLA format.

Writing Assignment 2: Compose a brief argument, 500 to 750 words in length, that incorporates at least three patterns of development listed in chapter 3. Select a topic from the following list to use as the basis for developing an appropriate thesis. The paper should include a thesis in the introduction of the paper and provide a minimum of three points of support for development. No external sources or visuals are required for this paper, but if a student chooses to include them, both the parenthetical citations and entries on the Works Cited page should conform to MLA format.

Writing Assignment 3: Compose an argument, 750-1,000 words in length, that takes a position about a contemporary debate that has not been discussed in class. The paper should present a thesis in the introduction and include a minimum of three points of support for development. The supporting evidence should be presented in a mixed pattern of development (review the patterns in Chapter 3). The view that opposes your thesis should be briefly explained and refuted. A minimum of three external sources are required for this paper; these sources can be used as support for either side of the argument. Parenthetical citations and entries for the Works Cited page must follow MLA format. You may also include visual support for your text, though doing so is not required.
Writing Assignment 4: Compose an argument, 750-1,000 words in length, that offers a mediated position between two opposing views. Select a topic from the list of critical issues that has not been used in class. The paper should include a thesis in the introduction. The body of the paper should include at least two opposing views of the topic being considered and a third, mediated position that can be accepted by those who support the original, opposing views. The paper is to include a minimum of three external sources that held develop one of the three positions. Parenthetical citations and entries on the Works Cited page must follow MLA format. While not required, visuals and graphics may be included for support.

Writing Assignment 5: Compose an argument, 1,000-1,500 words in length, that is presented in the classical form. Using one of the five classic arguments that has not been used in class, develop a thesis that is included in the introduction of the paper. Carefully consider the effect of the ethos, pathos, and logos of the support that you use to develop the thesis. The body of the paper must present and refute the opposition view as well as the support of your own thesis. This paper will include a minimum of five external sources that help develop your thesis or attempt to explain the opposition. Parenthetical citations as well as entries on the Works Cited page must conform to MLA format. In addition, this paper will include at least one example of visual support such as a graphic, table, or chart.
Writing Assignment 6: Compose an argument, 1,000-1,500 words in length, that is supported by a casebook approach. Choose a topic other than "American Eating Habits" and develop a thesis that is presented in the introduction of your paper. Within the body of the paper, briefly annotate the articles that you used to support your argument. Remember to present and refute the opposition view to your argument. This paper will include a minimum of five external sources to support your thesis or explain the opposition's view. Parenthetical citations and entries on the Works Cited page must follow the MLA format. In addition, this paper will include a minimum of one example of visual support such as a graphic, table, or chart.


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