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Project: For this paper, you will explore a public issue and argue your own position in an essay.

This project has several phases.

  • First, you will select a current public issue.
  • Then you will explore the events and discourse surrounding that issue, creating an annotated bibliography.
  • Next, you will write your own persuasive argument essay weighing in on the issue, using, and responding to the sources in your annotated bibliography. In your essay, you will provide an overview of the issue, explain the major points of view on it, and present your own argument. You should build an argument that is both persuasive and intellectually rigorous.

Purpose and Audience: The primary purposes for this assignment include the following:

(1) to recognize language as a powerful tool in the public sphere;

(2) to analyze arguments using rhetorical principles;

(3) to engage with multiple perspectives on an issue;

(4) to practice methods of research and source documentation.

Your audience should be a public one—you are attempting to engage, reach, and persuade an educated, thoughtful audience of people who might have a different perspective or who may or may not be familiar with your topic or issue. Remember that an argument does not necessarily mean controversy; rather, an argument is persuasive. A student might argue for the benefits of reading to children before the age of two. This is not a controversial, emotional topic but is an issue of public importance.

Topic: Select an issue that is meaningful to you (but not emotional to you) and that is specific. Local issues and issues related to your intended major or profession work well, as do those connected with a hobby. Be specific and work to narrow down your topic—general topics are too large to cover, and they pose the problem of information overload. For those reasons, I would suggest that you avoid these topics: the death penalty (capital punishment), gun control and/or gun rights, the drinking age, abortion, spanking, or the legalization of marijuana or other drugs. Students have great difficulty finding appropriate or scholarly sources, and their emotional investment in the issue prevents them from addressing varying perspectives. Consider these subjects unacceptable unless you write and turn in a two-page, double-spaced proposal detailing how you are taking a new and unique approach related to legal developments currently being debated in appeals courts. If I approve that proposal, you may write about one of these topics.

Minimum Source Requirements for Annotated Bibliography and Public Issue Argument

â–¡ six sources, alphabetically arranged and annotated.

  1. one scholarly article

Please remember that essays from scholarly journals that are

available on-line through the library are not Internet sources.

2. one scholarly or serious Internet sources.

You may not cite blogs, Wikipedia, on-line dictionaries,

encyclopedias, or other general resources. This bears

repeating: you should not cite encyclopedias,

dictionaries, other general reference books, or Wikipedia.

3. Four additional sources of your choice

In addition to library research (academic and popular books, articles, websites), you may also consider interviews, videos, newspaper and magazine articles, and/or documentaries as sources.

If you only have four sources, I will not be deducting any points.

â–¡ correct MLA citation format (8th edition).

Length: 5 – 6 pages with the Works Cited page as your seventh page. If this is at least three pages long, I will not be deducting any points. You must have a Works Cited page.

(You can write more pages if you choose. I will always read every word you write.)

For the second part of Inquiry 3—or Inquiry 3B—you will write an essay seeking to persuade your audience to accept your argument and any proposed solutions. You will use and respond to the sources from your Annotated Bibliography. You will provide an overview of the issue, explain the major points of view on it, and present your own argument.

Some questions to consider as you work on this project: What is the purpose of my argument? What do I want to do through my argument? Who is my audience? What sorts of evidence will be effective for that audience? Will the rhetorical strategies of appeals to logic (logos), emotion (pathos), or ethics (ethos) persuade them? How can I effectively use my sources mentioned in my annotated bibliography? How can I build my own ethos (credibility) in my paper?

Section HD: Friday, May 1, by 11:59 pm

I will accept papers without late penalties all the way up to Friday, May 8, att 11:59 p.m. if that helps you.

Section HE: Friday, May 1, by 11:59 p.m.

I will accept papers without late penalties all the way up to Friday, May 8, att 11:59 p.m. if that helps you.


Criteria for Evaluation:

  • Uses at least six substantial sources.
  • Research sources are integrated fluidly and ethically into your writing.
  • Research sources are properly cited.
  • Enters into dialogue with other points of view; respects other points of view.
  • Develops a persuasive argument.
  • Uses coherent, fluent, well-organized, correct prose.
  • Writing meets assignment parameters.