Name: Date: Argumentative Essay

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Name: _________________________________ Date: _____________

Argumentative Essay

Your Task:
Write an argumentative essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies a stance on a current controversial issue.


  • Clearly state the issue and your claim

  • Provide a variety of support that includes hard evidence (facts, statistics, authorities, testimonies), personal experience or observations, and/or sound logical reasoning to support your claim

  • Acknowledge and refute the counterargument

  • Choose and follow a logical structure of argument that best fits the needs of your topic and audience

  • Use appeals to emotion, logic, and credibility

  • Be mindful of rhetorical strategies that can enhance the effect of your argument

  • Be mindful of rhetorical modes (i.e. narration, description, compare/contrast, cause/effect, classification/division, process analysis, definition) that can enhance the effect of your argument

  • Cite any information you obtain from sources other than your own brain (MLA); include a separate Works Cited page

  • Optional: Include a visual in your argument.

(Tentative) Due Dates:

  • Monday, 12/9: Completed prewriting and introduction paragraph(s) due

  • Tuesday, 12/10: Bring all sources to class

  • Thursday, 12/12: Draft #1 due (at least 3 pages)

  • Thursday, 1/2: Draft #2 due

Argumentative Essay Pre-Writing

I. The Rhetorical Situation

1. Speaker: ________________________________________

2. Occasion: Briefly explain the context/occasion of this issue. What has inspired you to approach this issue in this paper? Why is it relevant, timely, and necessary?

3. Audience: Which people or groups do you assume would agree with your opinion? Why would they agree with you?

Which people or groups do you assume would disagree with your opinion? Why would they disagree with you?

4. Purpose: Briefly explain the purpose of your argument. Do you wish to defend, challenge, or qualify an idea? Do you wish to change your audience’s mind/behavior about something, or to simply raise awareness? Do you wish to stop a behavior or start a behavior? Explain.

5. Subject: The controversial subject that you have a strong opinion about is:

Your specific claim about that issue:

II. Structure and Content
6. Do you plan on organizing your paper inductively (specific to general) or deductively (general to specific)? Choose one and briefly outline below. If you are using indication, jot down at least four specifics that lead to your generalization (claim). If you are using deduction, break the overall reasoning of the essay into a syllogism with a major premise, minor premise and a conclusion. *Note: Your essay may also use a combination of inductive and deductive reasoning.

7. Of the three structures of argument we’ve studied, which seems to fit best with your topic, purpose, and audience? Check one:

__________ Aristotelian method (adversarial/all appeals)

__________ Rogerian method (compromising, win-win/mostly pathos and ethos)

__________Toulmin method (acknowledges complications/mostly logos)

*Note: Do not plan to follow any of these methods by the book—they should be used solely as a guiding tool for your thinking.

Explain the reasoning behind this choice:

8. What kinds of rhetorical modes would be most effective considering your claim, audience, purpose, and chosen structure? Consider narration, description, compare/contrast, cause/effect, classification/division, process analysis, and definition. A successful argument combines more than one rhetorical mode. Jot down which you might want to use, and how (i.e.—narration in the intro, classification/division to explain different parts of something, compare/contrast to show how your side is similar to yet different from another view).

9. What kinds of evidence would be most effective considering your claim, audience, purpose, and chosen structure? Consider personal experience/observations, anecdotes, current events, historical information, quantitative evidence, expert opinion, testimonies, etc. List the kinds of evidence you’ll need below.

III. Starting to Write
10. Consider whether your thesis statement for this paper should be closed, open, or counterargument.

Closed: Previews the major points. (The three-dimensional characters, exciting plot, and complex themes of the Harry Potter series make them not only legendary children’s books but enduring literary classics.)
Open: Does not list all the points the writer intends to cover, as there are too many. (The popularity of the Harry Potter series demonstrates that simplicity trumps complexity when it comes to the taste of readers, both young and old.)
Counterargument: A summary of the counterargument, qualified by although or but, precedes the writer’s opinion. (Although the Harry Potter series may have some literary merit, its popularity has less to do with storytelling than with merchandising.

Draft a few different possibilities below:

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