The Argumentative Essay

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SUBTITLE: An Argument about some real-world controversy that you really connect to, potentially even on a personal level.

OVERVIEW: A (In-Class Essay) + B (Argumentative Essay)

1. RHETORICAL ANALYSIS

(in class response)

In class essay on Living Life Online or Cyberbullying.

We will spend time in class reading about and watching clips related to living one's life online and cyberbullying. While watching the movie, or reading the article, you should take notes on how the author employs the rhetorical appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos to affect the audience. Note down certain quotes, scenes, etc.
Your in-class essay should ultimately assess this question:


“Pick a clip from the film or section from an article. Depict, very carefully, how the author uses the rhetorical appeals (one or more) of ethos, logos, and pathos. How do these appeals make the scene or article effective?”

2. Argumentative Essay

(research paper)

ARGUING your point effectively is an oft-neglected skill. People in this day and age are more content to hide behind the popular opinion rather than creating and firmly believing in their convictions. The first part of this assignment (above) asks you to analyze what makes an argument POWERFUL; now you learn how to craft your own argument. The "Argumentative Essay" asks you to put the rhetorical techniques you've learned into practice by arguing your claim and supporting that claim with evidence and counter-evidence. Towards the end of your essay, you should start to craft a viable solution for your proposal.
  FORMAL REQUIREMENTS: Keep in mind that MOST "analyses" and "Argumentative Essays" are generally shorter pieces anyway, with a direct, forceful thesis statement.

1. Your in-class essay should be around 1-2 pages;

2. Your research project should be around 4-6 pages, with a minimum of about 1200 words.

. You should cite at least THREE quotes for your formal research assignment. In the rhetorical analysis in-class essay, you do not need to use quotes from the film, but you can if you'd like; in the "Argumentative Essay," you can use various quotes from other sources that may even differ from your established opinion. (3 sources, 3 quotes)

4. For your "Argumentative Essay," you should have THREE different articles to refer to / directly cite from. If possible, one article should be strongly PRO; the other should be strongly CON; finally, the last article can be an OVERVIEW of the controversy / take a neutral stance.

5. You should have a properly formatted MLA or APA "Works Cited," clearly identifying where you received your information.

Ex: Gatto, John Taylor. "Against School." Harper's

Sept. 2003: 33+

Student-Learning Outcomes In this essay, students should ideally attempt to:

--Write a coherent in-class response to an assigned question or topic;

--Analyze and evaluate the logic, evidence, and strategies of an argument (written and/or presented in a visual or digital medium);

--Find and evaluate information from a library, from the Internet, or from other sources; synthesize relevant findings in his/her own writing without plagiarizing.

--Select an appropriate thesis statement for one's proposal, one that clearly indicates how a specific controversy impacts society and how that controversy might be addressed or ameliorated;

--Implement and possibly refute an adequate counterposition in the essay, showing that you can consider a controversy from beyond just a singular (pro-only, con-only) vantage point;

--Apply proper P.I.E. paragraph structures to the essay so as to outline and organize the major points consistent with the essay's thesis statement;

--Apply proper M.L.A. or A.P.A.-based quoting conventions to the essay with regards to proper quote introduction, parenthetical citation, and other quote dynamics;

--Examine quotes or images from the formal and informal text or visual-based resources so as to significantly comment on the relevance and impact of those selected images/words.

bit more specific bit more general
  • 1. Pick a controversy that will affect your local community (here or otherwise), one that is likely to directly imact your life or the lives of your family members.
  • 2. Pick apart both sides of that controversy, taking a strong viable stance on which side you support, clearly indicating by your paper's end how your life or family's life is likely to be challenged, threatened, or affected by the controversy. Assess viable solutions.
  • 3. Use evidence of a varied or diverse nature—interviews, surveys, pictures, graphs, online materials—so as to cultivate a strong sense of writerly ethos (writerly credibility), showing your reader that you can successfully and carefully use evidence to lend support to your claims.
  • 4. Your ultimate goal here is to play the role of a fearless protector of your own or your family's best interests—as such, your passion for your topic is essential.

1. Pick a controversy that you project will have a lasting beneficial or detrimental affect upon your local community (here or otherwise) or the entire state, national, or global community, one that is likely to have positive or negative impacts on people within those distinct communities.

2. Pick apart the angles of that controversy, taking a strong viable stance on which side you support, clearly indicating by the paper's end, how people (possibly including yourself) is likely to be affected. Assess viable solutions.

3. Use evidence of a varied or diverse nature—interviews, surveys, pictures, graphs, online materials—so as to cultivate a strong sense of writerly ethos (writerly credibility), showing your reader that you can successfully and carefully use evidence to lend support to your claims.

4. Your ultimate goal is to play the role of a concerned citizen, who is upset or hopeful about conditions in your community—as such, your passion for your topic has deep impact for others as well.

Grading Criteria provides an actual grading chart regarding how I will grade these essays.
BRAINSTORMING TOPICS provides a listing of topics used throughout the semesters for the argumentative essay;
Topic Proposal gives me a heads-up on what you might write about;
Source Assessment gives me a heads-up on what source(s) you find useful.
Conducting Research provides an overview of how to conduct research for this essay;
MLA DOCUMENTATION; (quoting) provides an overview of quoting styles used for the argumentative essay;
Evaluation provides an evaluation about the ASSIGNMENT;
SAMPLE ARGUMENTS: (GUN CONTROL) You may want to read BOTH ARTICLES, to get a broader sense of both sides of the issue.

Sample Arguments:

The Right to Arms / Edward Abbey: an agrarian anarchist argues for the right to arms (1979).

Outlawing Handguns/ Robert di Grazia: a police commissioner argues against the private ownership of handguns (1974).
After you read EITHER article, consider these questions:

1. What is the author's principal thesis? How can you tell that it is a thesis, and is the thesis effective? Use quotes when applicable.

2. In this piece, what evidence is effective in supporting the thesis? What makes the evidence effective? Use quotes when applicable.

3. What assumptions does the author make about the audience (where they are from, how much they know about the topic, what kinds of beliefs the audience has)?

4. How does the author use his personal status (di Grazia's being a police commisioner / Abbey's being a member of the N.R.A.) to enhance his position? Would each author's argument be credible if written by someone of a different perspective?

5. How does each author appeal to the emotions of the readers in their respective essay? In what ways do these "emotional" strategies strengthen or detract from her logical arguments?

Helpful Resources 

Student might opt to use L.I.L.O. (Learning Information Literacy Online)

According to the LILO website,

LILO breaks down the research process into a series of easy-to-follow steps. Each module of the program asks a series of questions about your research topic. The "My Journal" feature enables you to record your research topic ideas, search words, book, article and Web citations and more to keep you focused and organized. LILO uses text, video, relevant Web sites, and many examples to help you produce a high-quality research paper or presentation. LILO also develops essential critical thinking and information retrieval skills vital in today's technological world.

Supplementary Components

SAMPLE ESSAYS A: RHETORICAL ANALYSIS; gives you some brief examples of each of the assignments provided;
SAMPLE ESSAY B: RHETORICAL ANALYSIS; gives you some brief examples of each of the assignments provided;
SAMPLE ESSAYS B: Argumentative Essays gives you some brief examples of each of the assignments provided;
TIMELINE OF RESEARCH gives you a sense of how you should go about conducting research;
STUDENT SAMPLE (RHETORICAL ANALYSIS) more samples, this time, by a student.
STUDENT SAMPLE (Argumentative Essay) more samples, this time, by a student.