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Writing Arguments.

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1 Writing Arguments

2 Quickwrite #5 For today’s class, you read two sections about writing that makes an argument/supports a position. Think back over the past few days. What are some of the arguments/positions that you have seen made/supported? Have YOU made any arguments or supported any positions? What were they? How did you make your arguments effective?

3 Three Basic Building Blocks of Written Arguments
The Issue: This is the topic, subject, or controversial issue you have chosen to write about. The Claim: This is a statement of opinion or value judgment about the issue. (This should be your thesis statement.) The Evidence: This is the reasonable, logical support that explains and backs up the claim you have made about the issue. (This will come from your research and your own conclusions you make having read extensively about your topic.)

4 Characteristics of Argument: An Explicit Position
In your introduction, after you have given your audience context, you will need to state your main argument/position explicitly. (This means you need to come right out and say it rather than implying it or hinting at it.) See p of Everyone’s an Author This allows your readers to know exactly what you are arguing or what position you are supporting. You might choose to qualify, or add certain conditions to your explicit statement in order to make sure that you aren’t making a claim you can’t possibly support. (See p. 85 of Everyone’s an Author)

5 More About Qualifying Positions
Unqualified Position – Hard to support Eating organic food will always help everyone live longer. Qualified Position – Still an explicit claim, but easier to support There are many potential health benefits to eating organic food. Notice how the word “potential” doesn’t make any promises the author can’t keep while still making the claim that the audience should consider eating organic food.

6 How do I decide what my explicit position is?
Before you can have an explicit position, you will need to do your research. (See p. 84 of Everyone’s an Author.) Essay 3—the media analysis essay—asks you to observe some part of the media closely and make a claim about the patterns and connections you observed. Your explicit position will be based on looking closely at several examples of media that do what you say it’s doing. Your explicit position may also be based on a response to other sources you have found, online or in print, that deal with your issue. Read any relevant sources, taking notes and responding to the ideas of the authors. This will help you to have your own explicit position. Don’t try to write your thesis until you have already done research and read the relevant sources you find.

7 Characteristics of Argument: A Response to What Others Have Said
This is why research is so important. A strong argument cannot exist without acknowledging the other arguments that have been made about the subject. Choose strong, complex sources with ideas that cause you to think deeply about the issue. Notice how the example on p. 69 of EaA responds to ideas others have about buying from local farmers. She realizes that others have raised the question of efficiency, and she responds to it.

8 Characteristics of Argument: Appropriate Background Information
This helps your audience to understand why your topic is important. Background information might take the form of statistics, as it does on p in EaA in the piece of the article about women and minorities in the sciences. Background information might take the form of a personal narrative as it does on p. 72. Background information might include a brief history of relevant events. (Use moderation here.)

9 Characteristics of Argument: A Clear Indication of Why the Topic Matters
Find ways to make the topic interesting to you. If you don’t think your argument matters, that will be obvious in your essay. Clearly lay out for your audience what is at stake in your argument. Often, as you do your research, you will start to notice patterns, just as the author of the example on p. 73 of EaA did. She noticed how the media was portraying female political candidates like Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, and eventually used these two woman as examples of a problem that went beyond just the two of them to how media portrays female politicians in general.

10 Characteristics of Argument: Good Reasons and Evidence
“Remember that persuasion is always about connecting with an audience, meeting them where they are, and helping them see why your position is one they should take seriously or even adopt” (Lunsford 64). In order to help your audience take your position seriously, or perhaps even adopt it, you need good, solid, reasons and evidence. Reasons and evidence might be provided by your research (statistics, expert analysis, etc) or by your own personal experiences, if relevant. This is probably the most important characteristic. If your reasons and evidence are weak or poorly explained, you lose credibility with your audience.

11 A Very Brief Intro to Quoting Sources and Giving Credit
In MLA format you MUST give credit to your sources TWICE. You must give credit in the body of your paper as soon as you use the quote. Mark or indicate all words/ideas that come from sources. Put quote marks around all word for word quotes. Indicate when you are about to start summarizing a source. Immediately after the end of each quote/summary, put the author’s last name ONLY in parentheses (if there is no author, put the name of the article in quotes inside the parentheses). Our textbook calls this “In-Text Documentation,” and I will often call it “In-Text Citation.” The index for how to do it is on p. 407, and the section is on p

12 A Very Brief Intro to Quoting Sources and Giving Credit
The second way you MUST give credit is at the end of the paper on a Works Cited page. “Cite” is a word that people use to mean “give credit to.” So, when I say, “You need to cite your sources correctly,” that’s what I mean. Each type of source requires different information on the works cited page. The Works Cited index is on p of EaA, and the examples are on p

13 Good Reasons and Evidence in Your Academic Work
As you do your research and begin to put forward your own explicit claim about the topic, ask yourself: What reasons/evidence were most convincing to you? If they convinced you, they might also convince your readers. What additional insight/observations do you have about these reasons/evidence? What can you add to the conversation? Are there any reasons in support of your claim that your research does not mention? If so, mention them in your paper, and stress that there hasn’t been a lot of talk about the reason you came up with.

14 Characteristics of Argument: Attention to More than One Point of View
Acknowledge people who disagree with you, and respond to them. (See p. 76 in EaA) Notice how the authors on p. 76 respond to possible questions/concerns their readers might have – the first answering concerns about the lack of scientific certainty when it comes to climate change, the second responding to the idea that admissions officers don’t consider each student carefully.

15 Attention to More than One Point of View in Your Academic Work
As you do your research and begin to put forward your own explicit claim about the topic, ask yourself: What ideas/reasons in your research did you most disagree with? If you ran into the same ideas you disagreed with multiple times, it’s likely your readers have too. You will want to quote one of the ideas you disagree with in order to respond to it in a complex way, explaining your disagreement in a fair, credible manner. We will talk more about this on the week we discuss “Answering the Opposition.”

16 Characteristics of Argument: Authoritative Tone
To establish an authoritative tone… Know what you’re talking about. This means having a deep understanding of the issue you are writing about and doing the research. Write like you know what you’re talking about and are sure of your own position. Avoid phrases like “this is what I think, but everyone has their own opinions.” You SHOULD acknowledge others’ opinions, but you should do so in a SPECIFIC way that you will then RESPOND to. Avoid phrases like “This is just my opinion.” An opinion is never “JUST” an opinion. It is a point of view informed by REASONS. And if you feel the need to downplay it by putting “just” in front of it, you might need to re-examine your reasons. Find a balance. You don’t want to sound too arrogant, but you don’t want to sound unsure of yourself, either. (It’s possible to be of two minds about something, though. You just need to clearly and confidently explain WHY exactly you are “of two minds.”)

17 Characteristics of Argument: An Appeal to Readers’ Values
Strong arguments appeal to shared values – the essay about work on p. 79 of EaA appeals to the shared idea that there is honor and meaning in work that supports a family, even if that work is hard or repetitive. The essay “Our Schools Must Do Better” on p. 89 appeals to a shared belief in the value and importance of public education. This is also sometimes referred to as finding common ground. If your topic is one that you care about, you should be able to identify the values that inform it. For example, the writer of the essay about women who are politicians is appealing to the value of equality and fair treatment for women, and she’s pointing out how the media is failing to live up to that value.

18 Sample Argument: In-Class Writing
Think of something you enjoy doing. A show you enjoy watching, a sport you enjoy playing/watching, a hobby you enjoy participating in. Something that you really like doing. If you like doing it, it’s very likely that you know a lot about it, and you’ve run into people who have different ideas than you do about this Thing You Like.

19 Sample Argument: In-Class Writing
Make a list of “Unpopular/Controversial Opinions” that you have. This is your chance to say, “Team X REALLY shouldn’t have traded Player Z because he WASN’T WORTH IT.” Or maybe, “Everyone really thinks that Character B should be with Character A, but I think she should be with Character C.” Or try, “Lots of people think Character A is a _____________, but I disagree with that interpretation of his/her character because ____________. You could also do, “Everyone thinks that Movie X is the best (or worst) one of the ____________ films, but I don’t think so because __________________.” Or perhaps, “Everyone seems to think that the best way to… (tie a fly in fly fishing, paint a model airplane, achieve a certain look with eyeshadow, set up a certain type of defense in soccer/football etc, insert your own area of expertise here) is _______________, but I think it’s _______________. YOU ARE NOT LIMITED TO THESE. They are just examples. If YOUR unpopular opinion doesn’t fit any of these, DON’T USE THEM. Make your own explicit statement. We will be making an outline of our in-class writing as soon as everyone has chosen an “unpopular opinion”

20 Sample Outline Introduction
Introduce hobby/controversy – why opinion is unpopular Thesis – Makes explicit claim Body Paragraph 1 – Topic sentence: First reason I believe claim is right Fact/observation that supports reason 1 Another fact/observation that supports Reason 1 Personal experience that supports reason 1 Body Paragraph 2 – Topic Sentence: Second Reason I believe my unpopular opinion is the right one. Summarize one reason people think the opposite of my topic sentence for paragraph 2 Respond to that reason – show why it’s wrong. Give another example/fact that shows reason 2 is valid. Body Paragraph 3 - Topic Sentence: Third Reason I believe my unpopular opinion is the right one. Continue support as in previous paragraphs. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO USE THIS OUTLINE. Make an outline that fits YOUR needs. Also, you don’t have to write in complete sentences for the outline. Remember to think about paragraph order. You might put your paragraphs in order from most convincing to least, or least convincing to most, if you want to end on a high note.

21 Unpopular Opinions – In Class Writing
Write an in-class essay in which you state your unpopular opinion explicitly and defend it. Use the characteristics of argument, which are… An Explicit Position (this is your thesis) A Response to What Others Have Said (Attention to More Than One Point of View) Appropriate Background Information (assume your reader is not terribly familiar with your hobby/area of interest) Good Reasons and Evidence Authoritative Tone Appeal to Readers’ Values Use your outline as a roadmap and refer to your textbook for additional help.

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