Arguing from Experience

For the first essay, I want you to select a nonfiction reading from a book or another source (not the Internet) and take a stand on an issue addressed in that reading. In essence, I want you to construct an argument that states a position on the views expressed in the reading, and use past personal experiences as evidence to support your claim. While this essay contains contain passages of narrative or storytelling, it should develop the argument stated in your thesis. Please keep in mind, we want to examine NONFICTION, which differs from the novel, the short story, the poem, the drama, and cinema. Objectives: To argue a clear position on a complex issue addressed in a text. To integrate reasonable and varying evidence from experience, knowledge, and the reading selection. To write an essay that is thoroughly developed and logically organized. To use quotations from the literature effectively and properly; this includes citing the quotations and typing a Works Cited page. To achieve a tone that is both personable and academic. To utilize the writing process — inventing, writing, revising, and editing — from start to finish. Requirements: MLA Format Length: 500 words, double-spaced (not including the Works Cited page). 12-point font (Times New Roman or Arial). Include two, not more than three, correctly documented direct quotations; these quotations should be cited both within the essay and on the Works Cited page. Use the introduction to achieve three objectives: 1) introduce the author and work to which you are responding; 2) provide a brief synopsis of the work; and 3) state your thesis. Your thesis should state your position on the issue, and your position should be both debatable and defensible. Each body paragraph should contain the following elements: A topic sentence that implicitly or explicitly identifies the focus of the paragraph and relates specifically to the thesis of the essay. Reasonable evidence from a variety of sources to support your claims. Evidence might be from the reading selections in a textbook, personal experiences, complex questions, fictional scenarios, anecdotes, or personal observations. Academic language that clearly and effectively engages the reader in the thinking process. Transition sentences that help the reader move logically from one paragraph to the next. The conclusion should not repeat already defined information; it should lead readers toward a final position that opens their thoughts to a different perception of ideas. You might even consider creating a clever metaphor to lead the reader to a final feeling about your topic. Further considerations: You also need to prepare subjective and objective evaluations of the piece. In other words, you need to communicate not only how you feel (subjective) about the various aspects of this piece of writing (its author, its subject matter, the style), but you must also judge the piece based on some set of rules (objective evaluation). Those rules may be the ones set down in the section on arguments and persuasion in your assigned readings. The rules could come from the material on logical fallacy (which we examine in the next lesson). The rules could be based on some other criteria from a source other than those found the text. But those rules should come from somewhere outside of your own thoughts and feelings. In this essay you want to try to convince your reader that the piece is either correct, incorrect, flawed in some way, biased, insightful, or incomplete. Seldom does a writer come out completely right or wrong, so in essence you should think in terms of critique. So decide what you want to read about. Pick a piece of nonfiction about some issue for which you have strong feeling. Find something that discusses either the positive side or the negative side of the issue. Something controversial, like war or abortion or immigration or taxes, might work. In the end, though, I want you to really dissect the piece you critique. I want you to look at it closely, and I want you do your best to PERSUADE me of the writer’s knowledge or lack of knowledge on the subject. This essay will include 2, no more than 3 MLA style works cited, along with a corresponding number of MLA in-text (also known as parenthetical) citations. If you do not know about MLA’s system of citation, find out about it as soon as possible. Very quickly, MLA stands for the Modern Languages Association. If you look at the reading assignments for this lesson, you will see a link for a great website that serves as a guide for MLA citation. Also feel free to use any handbooks on MLA you might have kept from previous classes. Look carefully at your resources and apply the guidelines therein. I do not really teach the principles of MLA in this course, as English 1113 should have familiarized you with it, and nobody should really have to “learn it by heart.” Instead, you must always check your MLA resource to ensure you have done your citations correctly. In essay #1, I allow no citations from electronic sources (the Internet or databases). All your research must come from a print source. In short, THERE SHOULD BE NO CITATIONS FROM THE INTERNET IN THIS PAPER; although, you undoubtedly must use search engine and database technology to find your articles. Make sure you only cite those that come from print sources.

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