also explored several different argument styles H u m a n i t i e s

also explored several different argument styles H u m a n i t i e s



Purpose: To research, compose, and present a persuasive argument supporting the position you hold on the controversial topic you were assigned earlier in the semester.

Goals/Outcomes: At the end of this project, you should have a strong grasp of persuasive techniques, including the ability to evaluate information from a variety of sources, to synthesize information, and to use creativity to develop new approaches to conveying your ideas. You should be able to demonstrate a fair-minded approach by listening to opposing arguments with an open mind, and draw conclusions that are well-reasoned and comprehensive.

Overview of Scholarly Argument:

In Writing Today (Longman: 2012), Richard Johnson-Sheehan and Charles Pain write that

“Arguing is fun, but you need to argue fairly and reasonably if you want to win over your readers. The strongest position papers and argument essays present both sides of an issue as objectively as possible and then persuade readers that one side is superior to the other.”

You have already become acquainted with researching and presenting the opposite side of your argument. You have also explored several different argument styles, learned to avoid logical fallacies, and recognize the power words have in communicating our ideas. For this assignment you will use your composition skills, persuasive techniques, and creativity to choose your words carefully and argue persuasively for the position you hold strongly, incorporating topics and themes we have explored in class this semester.

Review of Final Argumentative Paper Structure:

Johnson-Sheehan and Pain provide a basic outline for structuring a strong argument. You may notice that it combines elements of Classical, Rogerian, and Toulmin argument models. You are free to follow this model, or structure your essay around one of the other models:

  • An introduction that states the issue being debated, provides historical context or background information, identifies the issue’s two or more sides, and makes an explicit claim (thesis) that the position paper or argument essay will support.
  • An objective summary of your opponents’ understanding of the issue.
  • A point-by-point discussion of the limitations of your opponents’ understanding.
  • A summary of your side’s understanding of the issue.
  • A point-by-point discussion of why your side’s understanding is superior to your opponents’ understanding, including supporting evidence.
  • A conclusion that drives home your main point and looks to the future.

Questions to ask as you compose your project:

Audience: Who will encounter my project? What information can I be sure my audience already knows? What information would be necessary to include to ensure that they have all the background and context to understand my argument?

Purpose: Why am I making this argument? What do I want my audience to understand? How do I want them to feel about this issue? What reaction to I hope to achieve with this project?

Context: How is my project meant to be consumed? (In this case you are a student completing a project in order to reach your goals of completing a course, but this is a consideration you want to apply to any individual or group project you embark on.)

Format: What mode am I using to convey my ideas (traditional research paper, video, infographic, etc.)? What techniques do I need to develop that are specific to the genre I am working in will best convey my thesis?

Multi-Modal Options:

For your final argument project, you will be able to choose the format with which you will convey your position. Each of us communicates using a variety of modes, or processes, and some of us have more facility with one mode over another. This assignment gives you the chance to express yourself using a mode that is most comfortable for you. It also gives you the chance to apply your unique creative approach.

  • A traditional research paper (1000 – 1500 words)
  • Business or Government Contract Proposal (800-1000 words)
  • Oral History (1000 – 1500 words)
  • Website or Blog (1000 – 1500 words)
  • Newspaper Article (800-1000 words)