Overview. Over our first few weeks, we’ve seen how other talented writers and researchers inquire into important questions. Now, it’s your turn. During the next several weeks, you will research a topic and compose an argumentative paper that shows your knowledge of evaluating sources and persuasive appeals used in writing. This is your tour de force, your chance to demonstrate everything you’ve learned in class and the knowledge you’ve acquired about your topic this quarter. Purpose. The purpose of your inquiry is up to you. As you saw with the articles we read, most of them raise more questions than answers; however, you also noticed that the writers still made arguments (some more explicitly than others). Yours should make an argument, too, even if it is more exploratory in nature. Audience. The audience for this argument is an audience of your choice. Regardless, your audience expects a clear, logical argument that remains focused on proving a thesis. Also, your audience will expect that an argument is well-researched, and that the argument will be supported with evidence. Further, your audience expects writing to be free from errors. You’ll need to consider these expectations, along with your readers’ needs and interests, as you write your argument. Subject. You should write in response to an inquiry question that you are personally interested (and, ideally, invested) in. Remember, a true inquiry starts out with open-mindedness, so avoid topics (such as political ones) that you already have strong opinions on. These topics must relate to our course theme, the semiotics of popular culture. NOTE: You may write about the same topic as your diagnostic essay. Author. Present yourself as a knowledgeable, fair-minded, credible, and, as appropriate, empathetic person. You do not need to be an expert on your issue to write an argument, but you do need to have confidence in what you do know and believe about it and be willing to concede that your argument may not be 100% valid all of the time. Strategies. To achieve your purpose with your audience, consider these strategies: Choose a manageable question & determine the dimensions of your question (what people already know and what they will want to find out). Research thoughtfully. Don’t just accept the first few sources you find. Read each source closely and critically. Evaluate each source as you read. Be active in class. Attend class and stay on top of homework, especially your research journal. Spend time developing your argument. Be sure you have gathered enough credible evidence and that your own explanation is logically developed. Evaluate the rhetorical needs and expectations (this includes style and content) of your chosen audience. Research your audience’s demographics to help in your analysis. Take time to carefully revise and polish your argument.
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