Paper 2: The Narrative Argument
Lambert, GWRIT 103
Imagine you are writing to an audience of college-educated people who have a stake in
opposing your views. You might also take a look at JMU’s online academic journal e-
Vision: http://www.jmu.edu/evision/. If it interests you, you could write with the e-Vision
editorial board as part of your audience, and even submit your finished paper to them for
Like Sherman Alexie, you might choose to write about learning to do something for the
first time. Think about what this meant to you then versus what it means to you now. You
will want to relate the significance of learning to do this within the context of your family
and local community as well as to society. What were the odds or disadvantages that you
had to overcome? Was there a role model or important figure in your life who either
knowingly or unknowingly influenced you? What could you argue about this experience?
In other words, Alexie made a strong socio-political argument about the disadvantages
and stereotypes associated with being Native American, and he framed his argument around the idea that literacy has the power to transform an individual’s life. Learning to
read enabled him to challenge and shape his own “fate” as an Indian, both on and off of a
reservation, and to become a role model/heroic figure in the lives of his students. What
could you argue is the social, cultural, political, etc. significance of your own experience?
Consider writing about your sense of identity in relation to your chosen field of study
(your major or the profession you’re interested in), or write about your sense of identity
in relation to a particular “scene” (music, art, literary, athletic…) that you’re already a
part of or have been influenced by. Consider what is or isn’t valued, and what
communication looks like/sounds like within these groups. What could you argue about
identity within your chosen field of study, future profession or “scene”?
You might consider challenging or contributing to the video argument, “A Vision of
Students Today” by Kansas State University students. They made specific claims
concerning what it means to be a university student in the 21st century in order to build an
argument concerning the U.S. education system, the social, economic and political
factors related to accessibility to this education system, the significance of education in
preparing students to address world issues, and the role of technology in education. Go
back and watch this argument again. What might you argue about the U.S. education
system based on your own experiences as a college freshman?
You might consider examining an ideal or value that you think is commonly held in American culture. Think about the Dove Evolution and Onslaught video arguments we watched. (Both arguments can be found on the Dove company’s homepage or through UTube.)
Both presented images of beauty that are commonly found or used in the beauty
industry. These images created visual arguments about the beauty industry and Dove
products. Or, consider Alice Walker’s essay, “Am I Blue?” Walker claims that as people
age, their attitudes toward animals change. She argues that this change occurs in order to
support ideas of human superiority, which in turn support unjust beliefs and practices
such as slavery and other forms of oppression. What social ideal, value, or commonly
held attitude might you examine and challenge by drawing on your own experiences?
What analogy, like Walker, might you make in order to clarify your claims and make
your ideas more “relatable” for your audience?
The Visual Component
I would like you to include a visual component that works in conjunction with your
narrative argument. It may either work to support a part of your argument or it may
reflect the counterargument. (Think about how the visuals were used for the essay,“Thrown to the Wolves”.) Visuals may include a photograph, a cartoon, a graph or chart.
See Good Reasons Chapter 5 for more ideas. You will need to cite the source of this
visual aid (where you found it) on your Works Cited page. You will also need to consider
the placement of this visual component in your paper. Where will it be most effective and
You are required to use a minimum of five (5) secondary sources; two (2) must be nonelectronic.
In light of this paper’s length, you should not need more than six (6)
secondary sources. Your paper should be 5.5-6 pages in length, and include a separate
Works Cited page. The paper should have 1 inch margins (top, bottom, left and right); 12
point font (Times New Roman or similar) and be double spaced. Use MLA style in-text
and work cited documentation. (See NCH, Chapter 13 and CheckCite on the Carrier
Library website for guidance.)
I will evaluate your paper on the basis of: 1) how well you identify and explain the
significance of your position and demonstrate your credibility (Why is your
position/opinion meaningful? What makes your experience, in relation to your topic,
credible?); 2) your consideration of the audience and effective employment of
appropriate rhetorical strategies designed to make your narrative relevant to your reader;
3) your demonstrated understanding of Narrative and Visual arguments as discussed in
class and presented in Chapters 9 and 11 of Good Reasons; 4) clear sentence-level
rhetoric (grammar, punctuation, spelling) and smooth integration of evidence, quotations,
and paraphrases; and, 5) acknowledgement and consideration of alternative claims and
conditions for disagreement (in other words, who would argue with you and in what ways
do you address potential disagreement?).