Archive for November, 2018

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.