Basic features of an essay arguing a position (Essay 3)

November 6, 2018

What are the key elements of this type of essay?

• A well-presented issue

To inform readers about an issue’s seriousness and arouse readers’ concern, writers may

give examples or statistics that show how many people are affected by the issue and how they are affected

use scenarios or anecdotes that resonate with readers’ own experience and raise their concern

quote authorities or research to show that the issue deserves attention.

• A well-presented position

Are the statements asserted to be facts widely accepted as true and complete?

Are cited authorities or sources trustworthy?

• An effective counterargument

Does the writer respond to possible objections readers might raise?

Does the writer acknowledge other concerns or other points of view?

Does the writer concede an objection and modifying the argument?

Does the writer refute readers’ possible objections?

• A readable plan

Essays arguing a position need to explain the issue, provide a reasoned argument, and counter argue objections. To make sure their essays are easy to read, writers usually include the following:

a forecast of the argument

key words introduced in the thesis and a forecasting statement

topic sentences introducing paragraphs

repeated use of key words

clear transitional words and phrases

Ways to respond to an argument (Essay 3)

November 6, 2018

There are many ways to respond to others’ ideas, but let’s focus on the most common:

agreeing
disagreeing
or some combination of both

It’s a good idea to begin your response in Essay 3 not by launching into a mass of details but by stating clearly whether you agree, disagree or both, using a direct no-nonsense formula such as: “I agree” or “I disagree” or “I am of two minds. I agree that the state should pay some restitution, but I cannot agree that ________.”

Once you make a clear statement like this, readers will have a grasp of your position.

DISAGREE AND EXPLAIN WHY

Disagreeing can easily generate an essay – find something you can disagree with in what has been said about your topic, summarize it, and argue with it.

But disagreement can be tricky. You need to do more than just disagree – you have to offer persuasive reasons why you disagree.

After all, disagreeing means more than just saying “no.” To turn a response into an argument, you need to give reasons to support what you say because

another’s argument fails to take relevant factors into account
or
another’s arguments is based on questionable assumptions, etc.

Here are some templates for Essay 3 in a response that is disagreeing:

The author is mistaken because he overlooks _____
The author’s claim that _________ rests upon the questionable assumption that __________
I disagree with Stevenson’s view that __________ because __________
By focusing on ________ the author overlooks the deeper problem of _____________

AGREE BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE

You need to do more than just echo views you agree with. It’s important to bring something new to the conversation.

You could cite some personal experience
or
point out unnoticed implications or
explain something that needs to be understood.

The important thing is to open up some difference or contrast between your position and the one you’re agreeing with rather than just repeating.
Here are some templates:

I agree that ___________ , because in my experience _____________

The author’s position is useful, because it sheds light on the problem of _________

But be aware that whenever you agree with someone’s view, you are likely disagreeing with someone else’s. It’s hard to align yourself with one position without implicitly positioning yourself against others.

AGREE AND DISAGREE SIMULTANEOUSLY

This last option is helpful because it gets us beyond the simple agree/disagree format that can oversimplify complex issues.

If you respond with a “yes and no” or “on the one hand I agree, on the other, I disagree” enables readers to place your argument in context.

Templates for this type of response:

Although I agree with the author up to a point, I cannot accept his overriding assumption that _________________________

Although I disagree with the authors’ specific point, I fully endorse their overall point that ________

You could call this a “Yes, but” and “No, but” kind of response.

My feelings on this issue are mixed. I do support the authors’ position that ______ , but I find Stevenson’s argument to be equally persuasive.

This is a good template when you’re dealing with complex issues.

But as I said before, whether you are agreeing, disagreeing or both agreeing and disagreeing, you need to be clear as possible in the introduction to your essay.

Web resources for Essay 3

November 6, 2018

“State makes it hard for wrongly convicted to be compensated for lost years.” San Francisco Chronicle, Feb.2018.

(https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/State-makes-it-hard-for-wrongly-convicted-to-be-12623965.php)

National Registry of Exonerations (U of Michigan)

(http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/Compensation.aspx)

The Brennan Center for Justice

The Equal Justice Initiative

The Sentencing Project

Purdue OWL MLA citation guide

November 6, 2018

Attached below is a PDF copy of the Purdue OWL citation guide for the Modern Language Association (MLA) format.

Purdue OWL_MLA 8TH EDITION

More tips for writing Essay 2

November 1, 2018

Make sure your introduction explains the author’s purpose in writing the book and how these rhetorical appeals help him achieve that purpose.

Is Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book to inform? To persuade? To raise awareness?

For your introduction, ask yourself: Why do writers use the appeals to logic, emotion, authority? Answer that question in your introduction.

It’s probably a good idea to define the appeal that you are discussing. What, exactly, is the appeal to logos? Pathos? Ethos?

In your body paragraphs, explain why the appeal to logic is important for his purpose?

Why is the appeal to emotions important for his purpose?

Why is it important for him to establish his experience or knowledge or credibility?

Indent body paragraphs 5 spaces.

Write a title that connects with the essay topic and prepares the reader for what your essay will cover.

Rhetorical Appeals in Just Mercy

Stevenson’s Appeals to the Emotions in Just Mercy

The use of ethos, pathos and logos in Just Mercy

Draft focused topic sentences that respond to the essay assignment topic and unify your body paragraphs. Your topic sentences for this essay should explain why the author uses that specific rhetorical appeal, and why the appeal is important for him to achieve his purpose in writing the book.

Use your topic sentences to move your reader from one idea to the next and one paragraph to the next.

Stevenson uses the appeal pathos in order to _______________.

In addition to pathos, Stevenson appeals to logos as a way to ___.

And finally, Stevenson also appeals to ethos to establish ________.

When you cite an example of the book, remember to give the passage a little set-up and context, so the reader understands what scene you are talking about. (Pretend your reader has not read the book – that’s a good rule of thumb for doing an effective analysis like this.)

And also, make sure that you analyze the example you discuss. Don’t get bogged down in summarizing what’s going on in the passage – try to explain the interaction between the author and the reader.

What emotions, for example, is the author trying to rouse in the readers?

Why does the author give a bunch of facts, stats, numbers in the book?

Why does he talk about his background or his training?

What impact does this material have on the reader?

In every body paragraph, explain to your reader how the appeal connects to Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book.

Use your conclusion paragraph to summarize what you’ve just discussed in terms of the author’s use of these appeals. Also, explain what the book would be like without these appeals.

Incorporating quotations into Essay 2

October 29, 2018

As your assignment hand-out explains, you need to cite at least three examples from the book to complete your rhetorical analysis.

This means you have to bring in examples and quotations from the book in your body paragraphs to support the thesis you are making about his use of rhetorical strategies.

Integrating the words or ideas from another source is a big part of academic writing, so this essay will help you develop that skill.

Careful integration of quotations also helps you avoid plagiarism – the use of another’s ideas or words without attribution.

But remember the rule here: Never introduce a quotation into your essays without first introducing the quote, citing it, and explaining it.

This means that you will never begin or end a body paragraph with a quotation.

Think of this formula: Introduce, Cite and Explain.

Introduce

When introducing your quote, you need to provide the context of this quote as well as show the source of the quote.

In this assignment, you need to introduce the means of appeal or the rhetorical appeal that Stevenson uses in the passage you are about to discuss.

The quote cannot do the work for you; you must provide your reader with some idea of why you have chosen to use this quote.

You should also tell your reader who is speaking or where this quote came from in the book and the relationship this person or source has to the point you are making.

Cite

You need to provide in-text citations for all the references from the book that you use in your essay: (Stevenson 27).

Or:

Stevenson explains ________________ (27).

Explain

After the quote, explain the significance of the quotation. How might it relate to your thesis about Stevenson’s use of that rhetorical appeal?

It is your responsibility as the writer to interpret the quote for your reader and provide the significance.

Here’s a good formula to keep in mind when using quotations in your body paragraphs:

Introduce it: Before adding in your quotation, introduce it with a signal phrase and a reporting verb (argues, claims, suggests, points out)

Example: Stevenson points out that …

Quotation: After you have introduced your quotation with a signal phrase or reporting verb, integrate your quotation.

Example: Stevenson argues that our criminal justice system “traumatizes and victimizes people when we exercise our power to convict and condemn irresponsibly” (12).

Explain it: Now that you’ve integrated your quotation, explain why the quotation is important to your thesis.

What do you think the quotation means? How does it connect to your thesis about the author’s use of rhetorical appeals?

A good rule to remember: Your explanation should be at least as long, or longer, than the quotation itself.

If you include a quotation without any sort of introduction, your reader won’t understand how the quotation connects to your paragraph (even if it makes sense to you).

Below are some signal phrases and reporting verbs you can use to introduce your quotations (your Pocket Style Manual also has a list of these):

Signal Phrases

Stevenson explains that
Stevenson demonstrates this by
Stevenson acknowledges

Believes
Adds
Argues
Emphasizes
Demonstrates
Points out
Rejects
Suggests
Notes
Thinks

Tips & strategies for writing Essay 2

October 29, 2018

• Introduction

If you’re stuck in how to get started writing Essay 2, look at page 2 of the essay assignment.

I give you some tips and ideas on how to brainstorm your introduction.

The introduction paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay like Essay 2 should provide information about what you will be writing about.

Make sure that you introduce Stevenson and his book. (This is one of the criteria for evaluation I mention on the first page of the assignment.)

What is his purpose in writing the book, and how do appeals connect to that purpose?

You could begin your introduction by starting with a discussion about why and how writers use rhetorical appeals to achieve their purpose.

That you could lead you into your discussion of Stevenson’s book and his purpose and his use of rhetorical appeals.

Think of your introduction as an upside-down triangle:

The wider base at the beginning is your discussion of writers and why/how they use rhetorical appeals; and the tip of your triangle is your thesis about how Stevenson uses appeals in his book to achieve his purpose.

You should also mention in your introduction which appeals you will be discussing, and how successful Stevenson is in using those appeals to achieve his purpose (this is your thesis).

• Body paragraphs

Let’s review what we said last week about body paragraphs in Essay 2.

Write one paragraph on each of the rhetorical strategies and appeals that you mention in your introduction.

Keep this formula in mind:

1 appeal or means of persuasion=1paragraph

(Note: You can use the phrases “rhetorical appeal” or “means of persuasion” or “appeal to ethos” or “appeal to logos” or “appeal to pathos” in your essay.)

Keep this point in mind: All of your body paragraphs need to explain how Stevenson uses that appeal to the reader, and how these appeals connect back to his purpose in writing the book.

Remember our formula for effective body paragraphs – the word TEST:

Topic Sentence
Evidence
Summary Statement
Transition

Topic Sentence: Unifies your paragraph

Remember, each paragraph in the body should have its own topic sentence.

For the topic sentence for this assignment, make sure that you explain the definition of the rhetorical strategy or appeal you are writing about.

You should write one paragraph on each of the rhetorical strategies and appeals that you mention in your introduction.

Use the questions I have provided to you in the essay assignment hand-out to help you focus your body paragraphs:

What is the definition of the rhetorical strategy or appeal you are writing about?

Writers use the appeal to pathos in order to …

The appeal to pathos is used by writers to …

What is your evaluation of Stevenson’s use of that appeal in regard to his purpose?

Stevenson’s appeal to ethos is effective in this chapter because …

How does the example in this paragraph illustrate the use of that strategy?

This moment in Chapter 2 illustrates how Stevenson appeals to …

How does this example contribute to Stevenson’s purpose?

In order to achieve this purpose, Stevenson uses the appeal to … in order to …

Evidence: Supports your paragraph’s topic sentence (an example of the appeal you are writing about)

You need to find concrete examples of Stevenson using this appeal in his book.

As I say in the criteria for evaluation, I’m looking for clear and specific evidence that he does use these means of persuasion.

How does the example in your body paragraph illustrate the use of that appeal?

Summary statement: (explaining why Stevenson uses that appeal)

How does this example contribute to his purpose? (Use the summary statement to link back to your thesis)

Transitions: (so you lead your reader smoothly from one example to the next)

In addition to using the appeal to emotions, Stevenson also uses the appeal to …

Another example of how Stevenson appeals to the emotions occurs in the first chapter …

• Do a close reading of each of your examples

Remember also that a rhetorical analysis assignment like Essay 2 requires you to do a close reading of the book – in other words, you must discuss the words and phrases that Stevenson uses to achieve his effects.

Find the definitions and stats that you are talking about and include them in your body paragraphs. This is the evidence I’m looking for.

You have to show how and why Stevenson uses the appeal and how that appeal connects to your topic sentence (and your thesis).

Or let’s say you wanted to discuss why Stevenson included the moment where Henry suddenly starts singing in the beginning of the book.

You could write something like: “Another example of Stevenson using the appeal to pathos occurs with the moment of Henry’s singing a hymn in the beginning of the book. This passage portrays Henry as a sad and lost man locked behind bars.”

But this wouldn’t be sufficient in terms of a rhetorical analysis of that page. This is more of a summary of that passage than an analysis of how the passage works.

What, exactly, does Stevenson say here about Henry and himself? What words or phrases does he use to convey the emotions of this scene?

How does the language Stevenson uses help him convey the emotions he wants his readers to feel?

What emotions is he trying to rouse in his reader?

And remember to finish this paragraph by explaining how it connects to Stevenson’s overall purpose:

If your thesis is that Stevenson uses the appeal to pathos to give a human dimension to the problems in the criminal justice system, you need to explain:

Why is that human dimension important for Stevenson’s purpose?

Essay 2 – The means of persuasion

October 24, 2018

As we’ve discussed, writers of argument use three means of persuasion – logos, pathos and ethos – to appeal to readers.

The degree to which a writer uses each of these appeals depends on the rhetorical situation (the writer, the writer’s purpose, the audience, the topic).

Let’s review the means of persuasion or rhetorical appeals you are writing about for Essay 2.

LOGOS

To appeal to your reader’s mind, you give reasons. If your reasons make sense and your examples and details are specific and clear, your logos will be convincing.

Logos is a Greek word for word, by which the Greeks meant “divine words,” meaning reason or the word of God. From logos comes our word logic. So an appeal to logos is an appeal to reason.

If you are writing about logos, here a questions to ask yourself as you read the book:

Where does Stevenson use reasons that make sense?

Is Stevenson’s argument reasonable and worth considering? How so?

Is his supporting evidence clear, specific and convincing?

Does he use accurate facts, statistics, examples, and details?

PATHOS

Pathos comes from the Greek word for “suffering”; we use it to mean appealing to the emotions. From pathos comes the word sympathy: to have appropriate feelings for another person’s emotions.

If you are writing about Stevenson’s use of pathos, here are some questions to consider:

What clues are in the book that Stevenson is appealing to your emotions? What words or phrases does he use to move readers?

What emotions do you think Stevenson is trying to rouse in his readers: sadness, fear, guilt, hope?

Is the pathos appropriate and used with restraint – not faked or exaggerated in order to manipulate the readers?

ETHOS

Ethos is the Greek word for “character.” From it we have the word ethics. When you say that a writer has good character, you imply that you approve of his or her morals or his or her sense of right and wrong; you share the values of the writer.

If you are writing about ethos, here are a few questions to consider:

What clues in the book make you believe that Stevenson is trustworthy, fair-minded and credible?

What authority does Stevenson have on this subject?

What is Stevenson’s attitude toward his topic (the American criminal justice system)? Serious? Sincere?

Remember: When writing about the appeal to ethos, don’t confuse the appeal with how characters behave in the book; the essay assignment is asking you how the author – Stevenson – uses the appeal to ethos to establish his credibility in the minds of his readers.

Essay 2 Thesis & Outline

October 24, 2018

For Monday, please turn in a typed, one-page document, properly formatted (a header with your name, my name, class name, date) and a running header on the upper right) that includes:

1) A thesis that states your main point: How Stevenson uses rhetorical appeals (or means of persuasion) to accomplish his purpose, and how successful he is in using these appeals.

(Note: You can focus just on the Introduction, or on Chapter One, or Chapter Two, or Chapter Three, or a mix of any of these.)

For example, you can write about how he uses ethos, pathos and logos.

Or you can just write about how he uses one means of persuasion (pathos, for example), and show three examples of how he uses that strategy in the book.

Note: You can use the term means of appeal or rhetorical appeals. Either one is acceptable. (The word appeal means how the author is trying to persuade or move or convince the reader.)

2) An outline of your body paragraphs:

Three or four bullet points (or topic sentences) that explain:

which rhetorical appeal each body paragraph will discuss

how the example illustrates Stevenson’s use of that appeal in the book

and how the appeals to the reader contribute to Stevenson’s purpose

The Rhetorical Situation in Just Mercy

October 22, 2018

As you read Just Mercy, think about these questions as you brainstorm for Essay 2:

The writer: How does the writer’s background influence the content of the argument?

This background is important for Stevenson’s book. At several points in the book, he talks about his own background and experiences.

Those experiences have an impact on how he sees a situation or how he interacts with the men in prison and on death row.

The writer’s purpose: What do you think Stevenson hopes to achieve by writing the book? Does he state this purpose directly? Or is the purpose implied?

The writer’s audience: Does Stevenson see his audience as hostile, friendly, or neutral about his subject? What values does he think his readers hold?

The context: This is the social, political and cultural events that set the stage for this book.

All of these elements make up the rhetorical situation.