The Rhetorical Situation
In order for argument to occur, there must first be an “issue,” which simply means an unsettled question that matters to a community. This semester you’ll be conducting research on an issue that you select, and since you’ll be reading and writing extensively on this issue throughout the term, it’s essential that you choose one that truly interests you. As you consider potential issues, you may want to do some background reading to ensure that you are truly interested in the issue and that you can find enough sources to support sustained research. Please note: all the major assignments in this course build on one another, so once you select an issue, you may not change it.
For this paper, you will take stock of what you already know about the issue you select, organize and develop your thoughts, and sketch a plan for your research. Your audience will be your classmates and me.
Invention (i.e., discovering what you’re going to say in this paper)
1. You must first make sure the issue you’ve selected an argument.
Your classmates and I will want to know more about the issue and your relationship to it, so brainstorm/freewrite/draft answers to the following questions:
How would you introduce this issue to an audience who knows nothing about it?
What do you know about the issue already?
How did you acquire your knowledge about the issue?
Why do you find this issue compelling?
Your classmates and I will also be interested in what you don’t know (or are at least unsure about) regarding the issue. Brainstorm/freewrite/draft answers to the following questions:
What are the main questions you want to pursue/answer over the course of the semester? (Obviously these questions may change as you learn/think more about the issue.)
How would you answer these questions right now and why? (Your answers may change significantly as you research the issue.)
What more do you need to learn about the issue, and where might you go to find more information?
Finally, your classmates and I will be curious to know what audiences you have in mind as you look ahead to future assignments. Brainstorm/freewrite/draft answers to the following questions:
What audiences would be interested in your ideas on the issue?
What types of scholars, stakeholders, decisions makers, and pundits are interested in/affected by the issue?
What sorts of people are likely to be your opponents? Your allies?
Arrangement (i.e., organizing what you’re going to say in this paper)
You’ll want to organize your paper in the manner you think will prove most effective with your classmates and me, but here are some general guidelines:
Page 1- What is the argument about. Do not assume that the audience is necessarily the same people in which you are writing about. The first page will have a minimum of two paragraphs. Please do not attempt to write a full page paragraph. Your second paragraph will have your thesis.
page 2- you will need to use tight and concise writing. The space you have left is limited! You will need to address your AUDIENCE, NAYSAYER, and CONCLUSION.
Style (i.e., choosing the appropriate language for your paper)
One reason I’m asking you to write to your classmates, and I, is to break you of the habit of writing all your papers to some vague, generalized audience and/or attempting to make all your papers approximate some objective ideal. YOUR AUDIENCE WILL NEVER BE: EVERYONE OR ALL AMERICANS. This is not an Audience, this is a rhetorical strategy that is effective at being divisive. Lastly, it does not add to your Ethos ass a writer. If you approach this paper in that way, your style will be ineffective because it won’t be tailored to your specific audience. When reading your paper, it should be obvious to your classmates and me that you’re writing to us specifically.
All readers appreciate coherent, unified paragraphs, so your paragraphs should include a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea of the paragraph and supporting sentences that cluster around the main idea without detours.
Proofread carefully; avoid errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics.
Your paper should be 2 pages—anything shorter or longer will be considered a failure to adhere to one of the assignment’s basic requirements. It should be double-spaced, typed in Times New Roman font, with 12-point character size and one-inch margins all the way around.
Final drat due 9/26 EOD
Includes a snappy title that catches the reader’s attention and indicates the topic and argument.
Identifies an arguable/contestable issue appropriate to the assignment.
Indicates that the essay responds to the conversation about that issue.
Includes a contestable, specific, detailed claim about why the issue is appropriate for a semester of sustained research.
Provides well-developed reasons about your relationship to the issue (what you know, what you don’t know, what audiences you are considering, and how you will find the information you need) that support the claim.
Answers the “so what” and “who cares” question by explaining why the research topic is significant and to whom.
Supports reasons with thoughtful, well-developed examples anecdotes, ideas, and questions.
Comes across as a credible writer, and appeals to the values and emotions of the audience.
Develops a seamless, coherent, and well-organized argument.
Sentences are lively, engaging, and relatively error free.
If outside sources are used, they are used effectively and integrated smoothly to help substantiate or support points.
If outside sources are used, there is proper attribution to each source cited via in-text parenthetical citation and a correctly formatted Works Cited page.
Essay is 4 pages in MLA Style (Works Cited necessary if outside sources are used) in 12pt. Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins.
Submitted complete drafts on time. Drafting process shows evidence of revision of content and style.
Provided adequate help to peers during peer review.
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