Your assignment is to compare and contrast the authors of ONE of the debates listed below.
The essay should be at least 4 FULL PAGES (double-spaced, 1″ margins including top and bottom, Times New Roman 12) and NO LONGER than 4 1/2 pages. This is tough for some students who like to write, and write, and write…without really saying a whole lot. The page length requires you to get to the point of your argument. If, however, you are stretching your margins and line spacing to try and fit the minimum page number requirement, then I’ll know you don’t have much to say – and your paper grade will reflect that. Your problem should NOT be how to get to 4 pages but rather how to keep it to no longer than 4 1/2.
Length and Format
Your essay should be:
at least 4 FULL PAGES and NO LONGER than 4.5 pages.
double spaced with 1″ margins (including top and bottom)
Times New Roman 12
Don’t fill the heading of your first page with a lot of unnecessary junk. The only four things you need to put (single spaced) are your name, your section number, the date, and the title of the paper.
Compare and Contrast Checklist:
Have you opened with an introduction that lays out what this review essay seeks to accomplish?
Is there a good hook that catches the interest of the reader of your paper from the very beginning?
Have you fully explained the two author’s positions by comparing and contrasting them?
Have you used specific examples to illustrate their arguments?
Have you analyzed what their specific differences are? (Comparing is easy; make sure you also contrast!)
Have you stated to the reader who you believe offers the most persuasive argument and why?
Do you have a conclusion that sums up the paper?
Have you proofread your paper for grammatical and spelling errors?
How to Write This Paper
Over the years I have noticed two problems that students have in writing this paper. First, a student writes a paper that has an intro, summarizes each author, and then has a conclusion. These papers do not pass because they do not fulfill the assignment of comparing and contrasting the arguments. Problem number two is when a student summarizes each author separately, draws out some similarities and differences in a separate paragraph or two, and then concludes. These papers have the potential to pass, but not with a grade higher than a C because of the repetition in their analysis; that is, after summarizing each author separately, the student repeats the arguments again when comparing and contrasting.
So here is your required format: DO NOT summarize the authors separately from a compare and contrast analysis. Instead, organize your paper thematically in a point-counterpoint format. Determine what are the main points the authors are arguing over and explain how they differ. For instance, if the authors are arguing over compulsory voting, even if they are not specifically addressing one another, they are talking about the same issues: voter turnout, the concept of democracy, the value (or downside) of compulsory voting. A paper would be divided into these issues in which you explain how each author differs. In this way, you are drawing out specific points from their debate to show their contrasting positions.
THIS IS NOT A POSITION PAPER. While I am interested in your position at the end of the paper, your task is to fairly assess the arguments of each of the authors. Offer your position at the end of the paper as you tell me which author you find more persuasive and why. (You are also free to reject both authors if you provide a good enough reason.)
Choose one topic:
Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States
Robert Brown, Charles Beard and the Constitution: A Critical Analysis – pdf
Should “Under God” Stay in the Pledge?
George Allen vs. Margaret Crosby and the ACLU – pdf
Sandra Day O’Connor, Law School Admissions: The Case for Affirmative Action
Clarence Thomas, Law School Admissions: The Case Against Affirmative Action
Campaigns and the Media
Fred Wertheimer, TV Ad Wars: How to Cut Advertising Costs in Political Campaigns
Stephen Bates and Edwin Diamond, Damned Spots