For the essay, you will find a current social, political, or cultural issue and take a debatable position related to it. You will research the issue using the internet and the LSSC library databases. Finally, you will write an essay which makes a claim about the issue and supports it using rhetorical appeals and research.
- Length: reaches at least 750 words.
- Page Format: MLA
- Information: includes an introduction, 2-4 body sections, a conclusion, and at least one web source, one database source, one additional source, and one visual.
- Analysis: makes a debatable claim backed up by 2-4 reasons, develops those reasons using research and rhetorical appeals, summarizes and answers at least one objection to the claim, avoids logical fallacies, and brings the argument to a clear, focused conclusion.
- Fluency: written clearly and vetted for grammar errors. Divided into logical paragraphs.
- Language: avoids first and second pronouns and is free of slang, clichés, and contractions.
- Citation: uses correct MLA in-text citations and a works cited page.
- Proofreading: submitted to Grammarly, and the final draft reaches at least a 90 grammar score and an unoriginal content ratio of 10% or less. Your grammar and plagiarism scores should be included with the assignment.
Steps for Creating the Essay
- Research current social, political, and cultural issues. You will have a range of possible topics to choose from. Select one that interests you and do preliminary research on it.
- Choose a stance. Now that you know more about it, how do you feel about this issue? Is there some aspect of it that you would like to argue for or against? Do you have mixed feelings? This initial gut response will form the basis of your claim.
- Consider your audience. You will be sharing this argument with me and your classmates. Successful writers shape their arguments to their audience. Now that it’s mid-term and you know your instructor and classmates better, how might we respond to some of your arguments? How will you meet our needs, values, and expectations?
- Research online. For this essay, you will need to include 3 of the sources required by your annotated bibliography assignment. More sources can be used. At least one source should express an opinion opposite yours, to make sure you have considered multiple viewpoints.
- Make a claim, then find reasons and counterarguments (also known as objections). You must make a focused, debatable claim about the issue. Decide on 2-4 reasons which support your claim. (Reason statements answer ‘why?’ questions: Why is my claim logical and correct? Why should others agree with me?) Find at least one reasonable objection to your claim that you will acknowledge and answer in the essay.
- Consider rhetorical appeals to support your claim. Your support for the claim will fall under three categories. Ethos persuades the audience of your character and credibility on the issue. Pathos persuades the audience by appealing to their emotions. Logos persuades the audience by appealing to their sense of reason using reliable data and rhetoric which avoids fallacies. Your essay will need to employ all three rhetorical appeals to be successful.
- Find a visual element. The visual you choose will depend on the issue you are researching and arguing, but it should illustrate or support at least one reason backing your claim. The final draft of the essay should contain at least one visual. More may be used.
- Format the essay. Successful arguments make use of the following elements.
- A standard style and size font: For MLA, choose an easily readable 12-point font like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial.
- MLA page format: Make sure the essay meets standard format requirements.
- Legible spacing: Double-space your entire essay, including the works cited page.
- Clear sentences and paragraphs: Vary sentence length and keep paragraphs concise and cohesive. Use Grammarly to edit the essay. Double-check citations to be sure they meet MLA format requirements.
- Third person point of view: Avoid words like I, me, my, you, we our, and us.
- Sufficiently formal language: Avoid slang, clichés, and contractions.
- Draft the essay. Although individual arguments differ, a strong argument makes a debatable claim supported by clear reasons, uses research from reliable sources, and includes all three rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos). It avoids logical fallacies and considers objections.
The essay should contain the following standard sections.
- Introduction: The introduction should begin with a hook that draws the reader into the argument. This hook can take the form of data, questions, quotations—anything which the reader might find interesting enough to keep reading. After that, briefly give your claim and 2-4 reasons supporting your claim: This is your thesis statement.
- Reason Sections: You will devote one section of your essay to each of your reasons. Within each section, give detail about that reason using research and rhetorical appeals.
- Objection (aka Counterargument): Summarize and discuss at least one reasonable objection that someone might make to your claim. After acknowledging the objection, answer it using research and/or rhetorical appeals. More than one objection may be answered.
- Conclusion: A conclusion gives closure to the essay. Various methods of conclusion will be discussed in class, but in general, your conclusion should summarize your main ideas, create an interesting final impression, and leave the reader with a sense of completion.
- Works Cited page: Place an MLA-style works cited page at the end of the essay. Include all internet and database sources as well as the visual(s).
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