Argument Essay Assignment This section of the course will introduce you to Argument Essays. Essentially, every successful essay is an argument of some type, since you are trying to persuade a reader to accept your point of view. You will get advice on thinking about them, planning them, and writing them from the textbook. You will also get to read some, so you can see how other people have done them successfully. At the end of this section you will turn in a complete, MLA-compliant Argument Essay along with comments on your essay draft from the Smarthinking e-tutors. Begin this assignment with an arguable topic– one that lets you take a position, offer an appropriate proposition, and support it. Avoid concepts that are mired in moral, legal, or cultural dogma, as these arguments are never persuasive; this means NO essays on abortion, the death penalty, obesity, drunk driving, gun control, or the Affordable Health Care Act, etc. Arguments are meant to be persuasive. Your job is simply to convince the reader that your opinion is worth listening to. You don’t have to win—the reader doesn’t have to agree that you are right, but he or she should at least say, “Yeah, I can see how you could say that.” When you consider a topic for this assignment, it’s very important to choose something that you can be persuasive about. Why should Las Vegas get more Colorado River water? Are flashing yellow streetlight arrows more dangerous? Should the Nevada legislature really continue to meet every other year? Can we blame restaurants for making people fat? Should the FDA regulate herbal supplements? Stay away from the kind of notions that are used in high school debate classes; those models are designed to be unanswerable. Everybody in this class already has an opinion on the death penalty, and you’re not going to change it; to be honest, nobody really cares what you have to say on that. If you want to write about it, send your essay to the legislature. Arguments are about supporting your proposal with evidence. Your idea might be fine, and everyone might agree with it anyway, but in writing an argument essay, you must support your proposition. What can you show or tell people that will help them see things the way you do? In an argument essay, this is called evidence, and it can be anything—research documents, interviews, anecdotes, historical data. You have to become a judge of this material—you can’t use it all, so as the writer you have to decide what items are most persuasive and most appropriate. Please be sure to document everything you get from another source. Remember, to create a successful argument, you must engage the reader. The elements that make a good argument essay are the same as those that make any story better. Don’t oversell the story—let it tell itself. Don’t try to say too much. Be sure to use some detail—not just visuals, but smells and sounds too. Give the reader insights into character. Use dialogue when it’s appropriate. Keep your topics simple and arguable. The most important thing to remember is that, in writing, arguments aren’t about being right—they are about being persuasive. When you look at the model essays at the end of the chapter, think about what style of argument essay you want to write for this class. Remember, the key here is to persuade the reader that your opinion is at least worth considering. In thinking about an argument to make, try to tell us about something we have not considered. Some arguments are designed to be stalemates; these are good fodder for those high school debate classes I mentioned, but are poor choices for college argument essays. Be sure to avoid the deadly argument essay topics: topics rooted in moral beliefs—abortion, the death penalty, etc. You’re never going to change anyone’s mind about these issues, so don’t try. topics buried in legal quagmire—gun control, gay marriage. In an essay this short, you can’t even explain the basic legal issues properly. Skip it. topics that are boring, or inarguable—we all know that smoking, obesity, and drunk driving are bad. No argument. We don’t need to hear it again. Essay Requirements: For this assignment you are required to turn in a thesis-based essay that falls within the parameters of the selected topic [i.e., ‘Argument’]. Writing that fails to meet basic college mechanical standards— that is, essays that lack coherence, are cluttered with grammatical and spelling errors, or are simply unreadable—will be returned unread and ungraded. I shouldn’t have to say all the rest of this, but every semester somebody proves me wrong, so here goes: All essays must be turned in to the drop box by the assignment deadline. All essays must meet the length requirement of 3-5 pages [800-1000 words]. All essays must be typed, double-spaced, using a standard 12 point font. All essays must conform to MLA style/format requirements [see textbook]. All essays must be saved as RTF [Rich Text Format] files. All essays must be accompanied by your Smarthinking e-tutor comments. It’s not possible for us to address all possible writing considerations in every essay, so in grading this assignment I’ll be paying particular attention to the following: Essay development and coherence– does the essay present and resolve an appropriate argument? Is the thesis sound, and is it supported by the body of the essay? Is the topic debatable? Does the writer clearly establish her/his position? Mechanics– I’ll be looking at basic sentence structure, sentence clarity, and how well you all avoid common errors like run-ons, fragments and comma splices. I hope these points are all clear enough; if anything else should arise, I’ll let you know. As a reminder, NO late work is ever graded in this class; it’s simply to unfair to the other students. This is an online course, and your time is your own right up to the deadline; after that, the window closes permanently. Plagiarism in any form—and this includes “unintentional plagiarism”, or improper citations—is unacceptable in any academic writing at CSN. Plagiarism in this class will result in a grade of zero for the assignment. If you are somehow unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, please ask; you can also consult the textbook, the CSN library, the Smarthinking or Writing Center tutors. (Argumentative essay on why Juvenile curfews should be permanent. )
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