authentic exigency ); part ii W r i t i n g

authentic exigency ); part ii W r i t i n g

You are hereby challenged to write a dialogic argument with a delayed thesis for a resistant audience, just like Jane Tompkins did. Once you have determined your conclusion (major claim), you will work to persuade a resistant (perhaps uninformed) reader to consider (maybe even accept) your position through the carefully constructed “story” and experience of your research, as Tompkins did, with advanced analysis, evaluation and synthesis of a variety of perspectives

You will no doubt find your charting of Tompkins, as well as the “Organizational Plan for a Delayed-Thesis Argument” (Ramage 135), helpful in your construction of this dialogic argument. 


This challenging writing project provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the content and skills you have learned in this course by entering an important conversation (aka, discourse) in the United States and producing a sophomore-level, college research project. 


a. Critical Reading

  1. Read and critically evaluate college-level material from a variety of sources.
  2. Evaluate the validity and soundness of arguments.
  3. Distinguish factual statements from judgmental statements and knowledge from opinion.

b. Critical Reasoning & Writing

  1. Compose a delayed thesis, dialogic essay that emphasizes methods of argumentation, persuasion (use of appeals and strategies), evaluation, refutation, interpretation, definition, comparison, synthesis, and summary.
  2. Demonstrate command of sophisticated vocabulary, diction, syntax, style, and awareness of audience and rhetorical situation.
  3. Use both the denotative and connotative aspects of language effectively, as demonstrated in the employment of appeals.
  4. Appraise and select outside sources, and incorporate research material into the research project.
  5. Revise material to create ideas and draw sound inferences from a variety of data.
  6. Document sources properly and make smooth transitions between source material and personal observations.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to use inductive reasoning appropriately.
  8. Avoid the abuse and manipulation of rhetorical appeals and strategies, including fallacies.


a. Critical Reading Content

  1. The relationship of language to logic and the difference between fact and judgment.
  2. Perspectives and underlying assumptions and claims which may drive the writer’s arguments and conclusions.
  3. Soundness, validity, and persuasiveness of written arguments.

b. Critical Writing Content

  1. Dialogic argument.
  2. The Rhetorical Situation and persuasive appeals and strategies.
  3. Induction.
  4. Recognizing and avoiding fallacies of pathos, ethos, and logos.
  5. Individual writing style and voice.
  6. The satisfaction of writing as both a practical and humanistic activity. (Yep, I mean that!)


Once you have completed your research for one of the subjects below and determined your major claim (your position), you will write a dialogic, delayed-thesis argument for a resistant audience (a viewpoint contrary to your own). This strategic argument is particularly effective for a resistant audience, a way of showing (rather than “telling”) and persuading them to arrive at your conclusion. Yes, you may use “I,” as you are taking your audience through your epistemological adventure, but be strategic with it (as Tompkins is). Rarely is this type of argument meant to utterly convince an audience; in fact, it is enough to just get a resistant audience to reconsider their own position/perspective in light of reading your comprehensive research and inductive (delayed-thesis) argument. One might also say that many people do not have fully informed opinions on subjects–this paper counters that. As you have learned, arguments at this sophisticated level are not about “winning,” and this is not a debate. Your task concerns persuading a resistant reader (one who does not agree with you) to reconsider their position.

While you may already have a position on the issue you select below, do not formulate your conclusion/major claim until thoroughly researching a diversity of perspectives on the issue. Your opinion may change if your research is authentic. Cherry-picking sources to support a preconceived position is the opposite of what Tompkins does.  Practice the critical inquiry skills you have learned in this course and keep an open mind. You may want to review previous modules, but you should give your mind and heart over to the research and the process of discovery–about the issue and about yourself. Tompkins shares a lot with her readers, and this, in turn, strengthens her argument. You should do the same.

Once you have decided the conversation you want to enter, conduct extensive research on the question/problem and distinguish between different perspectives and their context,  as Tompkins did, and then narrow them down to best represent a diversity of perspectives in your paper. You are not restricted to U.S. sources. You must analyze and synthesize a minimum of 5 perspectives, which include the three that are required. Tertiary sources and other research will undoubtedly be needed and used, but they do not count in the 5 minimum required perspectives (because they do not represent perspectives).

Like Tompkins, use the following “3-Part” structure: 

PART I: Set Up Your Project 

It is suggested that you use the following bullet points and the “Organizational Plan for a Delayed-Thesis Argument” (Ramage 135)

  • narrate your history and personal relationship (experiential, observational, and or intellectual) to the subject; if you have no history or relationship to the issue, you may use someone you know–be creative. Note how Tompkins begins with appeals to emotion and credibility. 
  • establish broader, national context for question/problem–this is your kairos. Engage the audience in the problem.
  • share your exigency (which is, basically, your assignment for this class, but I am hoping you make the assignment more meaningful and establish your own, authentic exigency);

Part II: Provide the Story of Your Research 

  • explore the problem from multiple perspectives, showing the validity of different views. You will want to introduce, summarize, analyze, compare, and evaluate a minimum of 5 authors AND their arguments representing a diversity of perspectives (key: it is not enough to look at the primary text, as you must look at the writer and the original source of publication to evaluate bias, as Tompkins did). As you are presenting sources, you should also be comparing them and synthesizing them and sharing your responses as well as reflecting on what you are learning; 
  • invite the audience to join with you in considering other perspectives;
  • show how you are wrestling with the problem;
  • synthesize research and respond to it;
  • for a good portion of the argument, keep the problem open, building some suspense.

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