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The Discursively Structured Argumentative Essay Source: Orange County School of the Arts (see:

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1 The Discursively Structured Argumentative Essay Source: Orange County School of the Arts (see:

2 Why Students Should Have to Learn How to Write Discursively Argumentative Essays Twain professes that we are the “Lowest Animal” because we have moral sense but we fail to use it in our lives. Rather, we are selfish, base animals who continually put our personal philosophies and needs above those of others.


4 Why Students Should Have to Learn How to Write Discursively Argumentative Essays According to Tina Blue, professor of English at the University of Kansas, “despite the widely held belief that human beings are rational animals, the fact is that we are no such thing--at least not naturally. What we are is capable of rational thought. We have the capacity to learn how to reason, but that capacity does not come to fruition without careful nurturing.”

5 What is “discourse”? The exercise of rational thought or procedure to analyze a subject and to express in an orderly way the judgments arrived at through such analysis is called "discourse." Discursive writing aims to arrive at an understanding of a subject--or to make such an understanding possible for the reader by leading him through the steps of rational analysis of that subject.

6 The Action of Discourse The etymology of the word "discourse" is particularly interesting in this context. It comes to us from Latin, through French, and the word it derives from means to run back and forth. The purpose of discursive reasoning and writing is to "run back and forth" over a subject until it is completely understood--i.e., to thoroughly cover the ground. It is an act of learning or of teaching, not an act of personal self-expression, and certainly not an act of self- indulgence.

7 Why Students Should Have to Learn How to Write Discursively Argumentative Essays From writing discursively argumentative essays students will: ◦garner a deeper understanding of a given topic and to the long-term retention of the knowledge thus gained. ◦mind trained to engage in careful, systematic analysis and to form opinions or draw conclusions from such reasoning, rather than from ignorance or whim. In short: writing discursive essays will make a person smarter.

8 What is discursive and argumentative writing? Argumentative Writing ◦An argumentative piece usually presents a slightly more forceful set of reasons for adopting one point of view over another. It is highly logical and structured. Discursive Writing ◦A discursive piece takes a broad and thoughtful view and considers both or all sides of the topic. It is highly logical and structured. It is highly logical and structured.

9 The goal of a discursively argued essay The goal of a discursively argued essay is to present a balanced and objective examination of a subject. Like a purely argumentative essay, the topic may be controversial, but the discursive essay attempts to present a much more balanced discussion of the issue. It does not, however, have to be expressly neutral. The essay should present both sides of the discussion, supported by facts and research. The author may draw tentative conclusions about the subject and suggest them to the reader.

10 What do I write? Write an essay that: ◦is focused; ◦is logical; ◦is clear; ◦is well-structured; ◦makes a point; ◦grabs the reader’s interest from the first lines; ◦does not pad; ◦provides illustrative evidence; ◦gives credits to sources.

11 Thinking through your topic Write your responses to the following prompts: What is the question or problem that is at the heart of your topic? Now, give it context. What primary claims do you wish to make? What kinds and quality of evidence do you plan to provide? What assumptions underlie the argument? Share this with a couple people at your table. Do they understand the issue based on how you couched it?

12 THE DISCURSIVELY STRUCTURED ARGUMENTATIVE PAPER Your Audience. The general public. Given this, reflect on what different amounts of background information and details need to be provided. Point-of-View. This paper will either deductively or inductively illustrate your personal POV.

13 THE DISCURSIVELY STRUCTURED ARGUMENTATIVE PAPER The discursively argumentative paper involves five main ingredients: 1. thesis [claim, proposition, main idea] 2. context [background, framework, setting] 3. reasons [support, evidence] 4. counter-arguments [objections, contrary considerations] 5. responses [refutations, answers to objections]. These ingredients can be put together or organized in a good many different ways.

14 WAYS TO ORGANIZE A DISCURSIVELY ARGUMENTATIVE PAPER There are various good and effective ways to organize or structure a discursively argumentative paper, but there are two general principles you should follow. One is that whatever your overall organizational scheme is, it should be pretty obvious to a reader. To make it obvious it is helpful to use transition phrases such as "Second...," "Finally...," "In response to the first objection...," and the like. The second general principle is that you should clearly state your overall thesis early in the paper, before you start providing your support for it. Argumentative papers should not be like mystery novels with surprise endings! Here are several example general organizational approaches (there are others); each part (thesis, context, etc.) is often a paragraph, or sometimes more in a longer paper.

15 Paragraph 1—Framed Introduction Your first paragraph should: ◦be a general and metaphorical introduction. Don’t include specific points from the main body of the argument ◦be interesting and relevant

16 Paragraph 2—Background Provide some of the history of the topic you are writing about.

17 Body Paragraphs—3-7ish Body Paragraphs 3-7ish – Your argument (at least 6/7 reasons, thus 6/7 paragraphs) These paragraphs must: ◦contain one major point of the argument, stating your reason for agreeing/disagreeing with question posed. ◦begin with or have near its start a topic sentence (a sentence which indicates what the paragraph will be about and how it relates to the essay title). ◦be linked to the paragraph that comes before, often with a suitable conjunction or link words such as in addition, nevertheless, despite this, however. Don’t put also or for example at the start of a sentence. ◦contain evidence of your research (e.g. statistics/expert opinion).

18 Final Paragraph— Framed Conclusion A good conclusion WILL: ◦be crisp and conclusive in feel, the goal of the whole essay A good conclusion MAY: ◦return to something mentioned in the first paragraph ◦evaluate what has gone before ◦hint at something you might have followed up had the scope of the question allowed it ◦Give your opinion. A discursively argued essay should feel as if you have weighed up the arguments and come to a conclusion at the end. A poor conclusion will simply restate or summarize points made earlier or be a few sentences stuck on at the end.

19 Voice DOs (THINGS YOU SHOULD DO) ◦Use a more formal vocabulary, i. e. avoid colloquialisms and slang, but keep it readable for your audience ◦Use objective language whenever possible- remember you are stating facts. ◦Be accountable for what you write: always back up your points with reasons and examples. DON’T’S (THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO) ◦Avoid contractions- use full forms rather than contractions: e.g. could not rather than couldn’t ◦Avoid too many extreme adjectives and exclamations.

20 The Anecdote When a student draws on his personal experience in discursive writing, it should not be in order to reveal himself, but rather in order to illuminate the subject under discussion. The examples offered from experience should point not inward, but outward, to universal concerns. (Blue) DO NOT use a personal anecdote to illustrate a self-revelation.

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