Essay #2 (Argument) Assignment Sheet The Argument Essay: the basic task

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English 101-E

Fall 2008

Instructor Name

Essay #2 (Argument) Assignment Sheet
The Argument Essay: the basic task

This essay launches us in to the dominant mode of academic writing: argument. I am sure you will enjoy exchanging points of view in class discussion and using critical thinking to approach topics in meaningful ways. To keep your work focused and economic as possible, I am limiting your topic selection to one of the following five categories: the Media and the Self, Same-Sex Marriage, Profiling, Immigration, and Globalization. My reasons for this limitation is that each topic has a pair of readings (one pro and one con) in our textbook, and we will look at each issue in class. (Topics and readings are listed at the end of this assignment sheet.) Also, the paired readings will be the basis for the structure of your essay and allow you practice in working with secondary sources and developing and critiquing an arguable thesis—things that will be picked up again in Essay #3 (Research) where you may select your own topic.

It would be natural to use a first-person, singular (“I”) narration for this essay as in Essay #1, but, as a challenge I am requiring you to avoid all use of first-person “I” and second-person “you” for the entire essay. In short, this essay must be written entirely in third-person—essays having “I” or “you” will be returned ungraded for revision.
A Key Element: paired readings from the textbook

As mentioned above, your essay topic comes with a pair of readings from the text. These essays are short and sweet and offer concrete points of view, detail, and logic. It is your job to study the selected essays, summarize their points of view to the reader, and, then, offer your own point of view, or arguable thesis on the topic in a convincing, logical, and easy to follow manner.

So in a nutshell, you must summarize the points made by the authors, critique selected points, and, most important, offer your own position (or argument) to reader. This may sound easy, and indeed may be, as many writers enjoy the structure and demands of argumentation and debate. (And for good reason considering such discourse has been the bedrock of Western Civilization for nearly 2,500 years—think Plato, Aristotle, Vico, Descartes, Aquinas, Kant, Tom Connolly and on and on.)
It would also be well worth your time to review the introductory thoughts about arguments, logic, appeals, evidence, reasoning, fallacies and other process points made on pages 517-532, which begin Chapter 13.
Style and Structure

One may structure an essay in many different ways for various effects on the reader. For this essay, I think a traditional 3 part structure would work fine where you offer the views of one author, then the second, and then your own. I would imagine your summary of each authors’ view would take no more than one page or so and your own position would take at least two pages to develop. Of course, you will want to cite or paraphrase key passages from the authors in summarizing and critiquing, but don’t overdo this. The primary focus of this essay is to deliver your view on the topic using the readings to help you get there. Do not simply adopt an author’s position without adding your own conditions and concessions. These are complex topics and you should be able to find plenty of room to develop your own, unique argument, even if it does essentially agree with one of the authors. You must, then, make the topic your own. Let you voice finish strong here!

We will review MLA Style in term of citing and paraphrasing and documenting along the way.
Nuts and Bolts

  • Typed, double-space, 1" margins. Use a Times New Roman, 12pt. font.

(This assignment sheet uses 1” margins and Times New Roman 12pt. font)

  • No Cover Page

  • Include a Works Cited page

  • Pay special attention to documentation and logic here as well as sentence level items.

  • Length: 4-5 pages.

  • Final Draft Due: *Wednesday, October 15th in class.

  • This essay is worth 20pts. max, and may be revised for a higher grade.

If you have any questions, please ask in class or email me at: instructor email

*date subject to change per course calendar adjustments
Topic and Paired Readings (select only one topic for this essay)
The Media and the Self

Williams “But Enough About You…”(539-542)

Wurster “Wont You Be My Friendster” (543-547)
Same-Sex Marriage

Pollitt “What’s Wrong With Gay Marriage?” (548-553)

Colson “Gay ‘Marriage’: Social Suicide” (554-557)
Society versus Liberty: Profiling

Khan “Close Encounters with US Immigration” (558-553)

Chavez “Everything Isn’t Racial Profiling” (563-566)
Society versus Liberty: Immigration

Krikorian “Safety Through Immigration Control” (567-571)

Danticat “Not Your Homeland” (572-578)

Divakaruni “Live Free and Starve” (442-447)

Javdani “Plata o Plomo: Silver or Lead” (448-454)

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