ENGL 1301 chapters one plus

ENGL 1301
Chapter One, WA 102-108, + HB W4
What isn’t considered an argument?
The following list explains what an argument is not:
 Argument
is not a fight or quarrel.
fight is generally a conflict of opinions or emotions, often
not supported by rational evidence.
 Argument
is not pro-con debate.
 Remember
the element of truth-seeking required by an
 Arguments often represent a search for answers.
The education system does/does not need to be reformed. (If the
answer is that it does need to be reformed, the argument could
then be a search for how best to do that.)
What is an argument?
Arguments have three defining features:
 Arguments
require justification of their claims.
 Arguments are both product and process.
 Arguments can be implicit or explicit.
Arguments require justification of their claims.
For example, if I argue that the sky is blue, what
proof do I have that this is true?
 Claim=“the
sky is blue”
 Justification or backing=a historical record of blue skies, the
word of people who have observed the sky and can verify
that it’s blue, information from a respected source (book,
journal, etc.)
Another example could be the argument that we
should recycle.
 Claim=“we
should recycle”
 What justification would I have for that claim?
Arguments are both product and process
This statement means exactly what it says.
Arguments combine elements of truth seeking
and persuasion.
Arguments combine elements of truth seeking and
 In
making an argument, you aren’t looking to “win,” as
you might in a debate or fight.
 Arguments seek out the truth. Someone might make a
very eloquent case that persuades an audience to his
side, but this isn’t necessarily a good argument if it isn’t
grounded in truth seeking. Sophistry (explained, page
13) would full into this category.
 The graphic on page 11 is a great explanation of the
truth-seeking/persuasion continuum.
Arguments can be implicit or explicit.
“An explicit argument states directly a controversial claim
and supports it with reasons and evidence” (4).
Examples: argumentative essays, letters to the editor, policy
discussions, etc.
 Used when discussing specifics of a given topic.
“An implicit argument, in contrast, doesn’t look like an
argument” (4). The argument is hidden.
Examples: poetry, photography, song lyrics, anything that
provides a metaphorical or allegorical presentation of a topic.
 Used to make a persuasive point about a topic without explicitly
stating the argument.
Elements of Argument: Thesis
Thesis: “the controlling idea, the main point, the
conclusion you have drawn about the evidence you
have accumulated” (Handbook 27).
Within an essay, the thesis is the central claim of the essay.
All other paragraphs exist in order to prove that main thesis.
 You might begin working on an essay with an idea of what
your main argument might be, or you might discover your
argument by researching the topic more. You might also
find that your argument changes after some time spent
researching. All of these possibilities are okay. Just
remember that the final product should have a central
argument that is supported by the rest of the essay.
Elements of Argument & Writing: Context &
What is the occasion for this writing?
How will the writing be presented?
What are the limits and expectations of the writing task?
Who is your audience? Who will be reading what you write?
How much does your audience know or care about your issue?
What is your relationship to the audience?
How receptive do you think the audience will be to your argument? What is their current
attitude to your issue?
Are there things that might make your audience less receptive to your argument? (Think
about their relationship to the topic, their opinions about it, any larger issues that might
influence their opinions. For example, Gordon Adams is writing his “Petition” in hopes that
his Mathematics requirement will be waived. He wants his audience to take a specific
action, but the audience might be thinking about other students who will try to do the
same in the future and the problems that could cause within the university.)
What values, beliefs, or assumptions about the world do you and your audience share?
What action do you want the audience to take after reading your work?
Elements of Writing: Summary
Summary: a reduction of a longer text in to a
shorter text that expresses the main ideas and most
important points of the original text. A summary
does not repeat the words of the original text.
To summarize an argument:
 Provide
an explanation of the thesis
 Include the main points (justification/support/backing)
of the argument
 Make note of any important details
 Use your own words
Putting it into Practice
Using your Writing Arguments textbook, look at the
“Petition to Waive the University Mathematics
Separate into groups of 3-5 people.
Take the next 10-15 minutes and write a summary
of the petition.
Remember that you’re just summarizing, not making
an argument for or against the petition. We will do
that later.
My Summary
In the “Petition to Waive the University Mathematics
Requirement,” Gordon Adams, a 43-year-old Justice Studies
student at Arizona State University (ASU) and future student
of American Indian law, urges the committee to allow him to
opt out of the university’s mathematics requirement, as it
would delay his entrance into law school. The argument is
based largely on the idea (verified by practicing lawyers and
a contact at the ASU School of Law) that the practice of
American Indian law won’t require a knowledge of algebra,
as well as the author’s assertion (verified by previous
performance in math classes, his own work as a machine and
welding contractor, and his experience building racebikes)
that he already possesses the critical thinking skills and
creativity that the undergraduate Mathematics requirement is
meant to foster.
Taking a vote
Who would let Gordon Adams waive the
Mathematics requirement?
Who wouldn’t?
Think about your reasons.
Homework Questions
1. Question 1 from the “For Class Discussion” section
on page 20 of WA.
2. What are three ways that Gordon Adams
appeals to his audience? Give specific examples,
and included the page number.
3. What are three ways that Gordon Adams might
offend or fail to appeal to his audience? Give
specific examples, and included the page number.
4. How would you cite the Gordon Adams letter on
a Works Cited page, using MLA format?

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