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Assignment: Argument Essay/Blog and Peer Review
Length: 1000 Words
Part I: Argument Essay Instructions
For this assignment, you are asked to write an argument essay with a specific thesis that you explain and support. But thereâ€™s a slight twist–
Imagine you have your own blog and, like many bloggers out there, you periodically post your considered opinion on specific social or political issues, such as those related to injustice, marginalization of particular people or groups, social inequality, mental health issues, and so on. Your aim is to reach a readership that will read your work with care and think about your ideas and insights, not only because the topics are relevant to those readers, but because your writing is strong and compelling. In order to reach this audience, you need to use language in engaging and persuasive ways and organize your ideas clearly. For your audience to take your point seriously, you need to explain it and provide some form or forms of support to â€œproveâ€ your argument.
However, you are not writing a conventional academic essay, and the proofs and how you present them are not going to come from academic journals and scholarly books. Instead, you are going to write about something you already know about, something that you feel very strongly about, and something that you want others to think about. Your â€œevidenceâ€ will be your own insights rooted in your knowledge of the issue. You can use secondary sources, but if you do, they must be reliable and respected (see Sources below). You can use personal experience or the experiences of family and/or friends, but do keep in mind that you are writing about an issue that affects others in our society, so donâ€™t focus entirely on personal biography. You can write in the first person, quote or paraphrase sources if and when appropriate, and use narrative to describe situations.
The three rhetorical appeals provide proven means of persuading your audience. You must use a combination of ethos, pathos and logos, or you might use one or two of the appeals as an essential part of how you try to persuade your readers.
Every true argument has a thesisâ€”a point that can be debated. You cannot argue that almost everyone loves music; you can argue which music you think is the â€œbestâ€ or most meaningful. You cannot argue that learning to read is important because we all need to read at some point; you can argue how and why it is important to read certain kinds of texts.
In the kind of argument you will write, the full thesis doesnâ€™t necessary need to be in the first paragraph. You could begin by asserting that X is important/ frightening/enriching/ridiculous/dangerous/fulfilling/ â€¦.. and then move on to explain and support your claim until your ideas culminate to the point where you assert â€œThis is why or how X is important and why we need to change Yâ€.
In a formal academic essay, you would state your thesis claim AND why it is important AND how you will support this claim all in the first paragraph. However, in less formal written arguments, this strategy can be replaced by another strategyâ€”one which you think, after careful consideration and experimentation , will keep your readers reading to the end and persuade them to agree with you. This might mean â€œsavingâ€ your specific thesis until later in the essay, only implying it until you have drawn your readers in. It might mean using some irony or satire or humour, if used to good effect (i.e. if it will help persuade your readers). Think about arguments you have read in well-respected magazines or insightful, intelligent newspaper editorials. Think about the TED talks you have viewed (or in other contexts). Think outside the â€œacademicâ€ box.
Although this is not a conventional academic argument essay, you still need to be specificâ€”avoid sweeping generalizations, unfounded conclusions and stereotypes. The writing should be clear and you must avoid unnecessary wordiness. This is a short essayâ€”make every word count.
Although some bloggers do use secondary sources in their arguments, others often donâ€™t. Instead, they write about a topic they have knowledge of and use their own critical thinking skills to develop â€œevidenceâ€ to support their own points-of-view.
If you choose to use secondary sources, including any course readings, you must reference them and so according to MLA guidelines.