You are hereby challenged to put aside any bias you may have to “piece together” your objective research to make a persuasive argument on a question facing this nation.
Once you have determined your conclusion (major claim), you will work to persuade a reluctant/resistant (perhaps uninformed) reader to consider (maybe even accept) your position though the carefully constructed “story” and experience of your research, as Tompkins did, with advanced analysis, evaluation and synthesis of a variety of perspectives.
Through your close work with Tompkins’ text, you were introduced to a nuanced, inductive argument–something you are now challenged to do. Tompkins, in particular, provides an excellent model for the project you are about to undertake.
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.
- Critical Reading
- Read and critically evaluate college-level material from a variety of sources.
- Evaluate the validity and soundness of arguments.
- Distinguish factual statements from judgmental statements and knowledge from opinion.
- Critical Reasoning & Writing
- Compose an essay that emphasizes methods of argumentation, persuasion (use of appeals and strategies), evaluation, refutation, interpretation, definition, comparison, synthesis, and summary.
- Demonstrate command of sophisticated vocabulary, diction, syntax, style, and awareness of audience and rhetorical situation.
- Use both the denotative and connotative aspects of language effectively, as demonstrated in the employment of appeals.
- Appraise and select outside sources, and incorporate research material into the research project.
- Revise material to create ideas and draw sound inferences from a variety of data.
- Document sources properly and make smooth transitions between source material and personal observations.
- Demonstrate the ability to use inductive reasoning appropriately.
- Avoid the abuse and manipulation of rhetorical appeals and strategies, including fallacies.
- Critical Reading Content
- The relationship of language to logic and the difference between fact and judgment.
- Perspectives and underlying assumptions and claims which may drive the writer’s arguments and conclusions.
- Soundness, validity, and persuasiveness of written arguments.
- Critical Writing Content
- The Rhetorical Situation and persuasive appeals and strategies.
- Recognizing and avoiding fallacies of pathos, ethos, and logos.
- Individual writing style and voice.
- The satisfaction of writing as both a practical and humanistic activity. (Yep, I mean that!)
TASKS AND EVALUATIVE RUBRIC:
Once you have completed your research and determined your major claim/conclusion, you will adapt and integrate Tompkins’ style and tone with your own; it 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 (often called “Rogerian”) 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 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 an uninformed and/or reluctant 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. Cherrypicking sources to support a preconceived position is the opposite of what Tompkins appears to do.
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 total of 8 perspectives, which includes the ones that are required. Tertiary sources and other research will undoubtedly be needed and used, but they do not count in the 8 required perspectives (because they do not represent perspectives).
Here are some helpful steps:
Use inductive reasoning (major claim comes towards the end of the paper) and Tompkins’ 3-part structure as a model for the writing of your essay:
PART I: Set Up Your Project
- narrate 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.
- 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);
- present/define question/problem.
Part II: Provide the Story of Your Research
- introduce, summarize, analyze, compare, and evaluate a minimum of 8 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;
- synthesize research and response to it.
PART III: Your Conclusion
- present your major claim, your resolution or solution to the question/problem (which may side with one or more of your sources or be entirely your own), and provide reasons and evidence to support it–this should be a minimum of two, well-developed pages, not just a final paragraph;
- if applicable, share any new question/s or problem/s encountered as a result of your research and critical thinking (as Tompkins does in her last paragraph).
Your reader should not know your position until the end of the paper. Tompkins includes her change of mind about poststructuralism during her research to lead her reluctant reader through her journey. Also, do not insult your uninformed/reluctant audience. Tone matters. Take perspectives seriously, even when they are the opposite of your own. Most of you will review Tompkins before starting this.
Choose from this List of Contemporary, Research-Focus Questions
You must choose one of the following three options (A, B, or C) for your paper–papers not on one of these topics will receive a zero.
- Should the United States give reparations to African-Americans for Slavery?
- “The Case for Reparations,” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “The Case Against Reparations,” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Kevin D. Williamson.
- Jordan Anderson, Letter to P.H. Anderson, (August 7, 1865) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Should the United States open its borders?
- “Trump Officials Make Case for Border Wall” (Links to an external site.) by Mallory Shelbourne
- “The Case for Getting Rid of Borders” (Links to an external site.) by Alex Tabarrok
- “Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigration in America” (Links to an external site.) by Vivian Yee, Kenan Davis, and Jugal K. Patel
- Should Donald Trump, the President of the United States, be removed from office?
- Constitution of the United States (Links to an external site.)
- Marie Yovanovitch Testimony (Links to an external site.)
- Gordan Sonland Testimony (Links to an external site.)
|Rubric for Tompkins-Style Research Project|
|This essay is a clear response to the assignment and demonstrates a deep understanding of Tompkins’ style and 3-part structure (it is modeled after it); moreover, the author constructs a nuanced inductive argument that effectively appeals to reasoning, emotions, and their credibility to persuade an uninformed/reluctant audience through the use of targeted strategies.||This area will be used by the assessor, as needed, to leave comments related to this criterion.||150.0 pts|
|The writing project is long enough to meet the demands of the assignment, typically 8-12 pages in length. Long block quotes and/or images are not used to meet page count. Note that longer papers are not always better, but that to do this assignment in fewer than 8 pages takes great focus and care.||This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.||50.0 pts|
|The essay demonstrates mastery of MLA.||This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments, as needed, related to this criterion.||50.0 pts|
|The essay is well organized with effective transitions between ideas and paragraphs.||This area will be used by the assessor, as needed, to leave comments, as needed, related to this criterion.||50.0 pts|
|The author works closely and critically with a minimum of 8 clear perspectives, introducing, summarizing, and contextualizing each of them, (i.e., academic meaty sentence, assumptions, bias, etc.), and smoothly integrates direct quotes, block quotes, and paraphrases with their own ideas and words. Quotes are not awkwardly dropped in, as direct work with the texts is a must.||This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.||100.0 pts|
|The author utilizes precise diction and the Literary Present Tense (LPT), and the essay is meticulously proofread and primarily free of sentence-level errors.Essay demonstrates advanced, college-level reasoning, reading, and writing skills.||This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.||100.0 pts|
|Total Points: 500.0
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