Due Date: 20 November
Requirements: 4 Page Argumentative Essay
1-2 Page Statement of Goals and Choices
3 SLO Reflections
We are always swimming in writing that is intended to convince us of one position or another. Sometimes this writing is obvious, and ends with a clear “…and therefore you should ___.” Other times the convincing element of a piece of writing may be more subtle—consider how many movies you’ve seen whose plot is solved by American military or espionage forces “bending the rules” to “get the bad guys,” –at what point does this move from a plot point to an implicit cultural necessity. In this sequence we are going to explore how arguments can be constructed and how our positions relative to those arguments is shaped by our experiences as readers and as people.
I am aware that I am teaching this sequence at a point in American history that is particularly animated by political fault-lines. It is dishonest to pretend like the material we are covering in this sequence does not participate in that sphere of discussions. I hope, however, that we can use this sequence as an opportunity to focus on problems that we experience directly. As an example, global climate change is a species-wide catastrophe, but what happens if some of the energy focused on globe-spanning problems is directed to more immediately impactful environmental issues, like water quality and availability in the Rio Grande?
I would like you to think about what you’re writing as being intended for a small or medium-sized publication. Something with a fairly specific audience. What does it mean to write an editorial in the Daily Lobo vs. writing it for a small-town newspaper? What assumptions and strategies do these different audiences demand?
Be sure to reflect on the argumentative strategies that we’ve covered in this sequence. Ask yourself which argumentative strategy is most effective for the position you’re trying to convey: Should you use more logos? More pathos? More ethos?
Anticipating counter-arguments to your position is a useful technique, but take care not to spend too much of your paper arguing against your thesis.
Remember, your goal in this paper is to convince your audience that your position is correct. This does not mean that I will be grading based on whether or not I am personally convinced by your arguments, but based on how skillfully I see you using rhetorical strategies in your paper. An effective argument will do more for your paper than an ineffective argument that happens to be personally convincing to me. That is to say, your audience is your classmates, who might come to your argument with any number of preconceived notions, anticipate and argue to a broad audience, not to what you think will personally appeal to me.
At its core, when I look at your assignment I should be able to answer three questions without very much effort:
In addition to the project that you produce, you will submit a one to two-page Statement of Goals and Choices in which you address (at least some of) the following:
What strategies did you use to write this assignment? Did you use logos? Pathos? Ethos?
What would you do differently with this assignment, if you were given more time?
What is the weakest point of this assignment?
What was your greatest success in this assignment?
Who is your audience? (Remember, be as specific as possible with this analysis)
What programs or alternative media did you consider?
Was there an element from the readings that especially inspired your project?
Specifically enumerate two or three rhetorical choices you made within the context of
your project. Justify them. For example, you might have chosen to write more or less formally than you normally would. Why?
Remember, these questions are intended to start you thinking. They are not a questionnaire to fill out. Simply responding to each question in order will not earn full credit.
Note: For this assignment, I am also requiring that you answer this question specifically in your Statement of Goals and Choices: Who is your intended audience? Your answer to this must be somewhat specific—is it an age group? A community defined by space? Or shared beliefs and experiences? Is it a group defined by some other factor that you know better than me? Your ability to make an argument well depends on your ability to know who you are attempting to convince. Your ability to read an argument well depends on your ability to know who the author is attempting to convince.
You have worked with SLOs A, B, E, C, and F so far this semester. Select three of them and describe how you have engaged with that SLO this semester. Make sure to give at least one specific example.
“I used SLO A when I thought about Genre” does not give a specific example or describe what the student actually did this semester to use this SLO.
“I used SLO A when I was picking which parts of my project to emphasize. I had to think about what the genre required me to emphasize so I spent more time talking about [example] than I did [other example]. I think that making this choice made my project better because it followed one of the rules that the project’s genre required me to follow.” gives specific examples and tries to put the experience in the full context of the course.
For full points your paper should:
A successful Statement of Goals and Choices will do at least four of the following tasks. Each task is worth 5 points.
Each reflection is worth 5 points. Each reflection should be one paragraph long and provide a specific example from the student’s work.
I want your papers to be unique, individual, and from your arguments. As such, I don’t want papers on
Existence/Non-Existence of God
Prayer in Schools
Smoking in Public/on Campus
Links between Video Games/TV and Violence
Efficacy/Necessity of Vaccines/Face Masks
All of these topics are on this list because they tend to produce papers that don’t rely on new, unique arguments from students who write them. I want your paper to be from your arguments and ideas, not a regurgitation of someone else’ talking points.
Additionally, I unconditionally reserve the right to reject any proposed topic for this paper. The litmus test I will apply in most cases is asking “Is this paper arguing that one group of people should have less or different rights than another?” If so, I will reject your proposed topic.
I also want to suggest that election-related topics may not be the best choice for this assignment. The election will (hopefully) be decided and done two weeks before your final assignment is due. While you might be incredibly animated to write a convincing piece in favor of a candidate or issue of your choice now, will you still be animated to write such a piece after the issue is decided?
That being said, if you feel that my policy in this regard is shutting you out of a topic you wanted to write about I will give you two options.
Option 1: Write your research paper about why topic limitations are bad pedagogy. Question and challenge my policy, providing evidence for your claims and make an effort to convince me that I’m wrong to limit you in this regard.
Option 2: If you think that you have a truly unique take on an issue and will write a paper that will be original-you may attempt to convince me. If you want to do this, write me a 1-2 paragraph summary of your argument. Include at least 3 points you will make in the final argument, and show me 1-2 scholarly sources you plan to engage with.
If you choose to do so, your proposal will be due Thursday, 15 October by the beginning of class. I will read any proposals I receive over the weekend and respond to them by the following class session with my approval or rejection.
 Double-Spaced, 12pt Times New Roman Font, 1” Margins, Left-Justification.