Essay Assignment

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Formal Writing Assignment #3 GWRIT 102/Turner:
Writing an Analysis of an Argument: In the Context of
Some Thoughts (Pro or Con) on Issues related to: Shifting Sexual Roles and Mores


Purpose of the Assignment:

--to learn to analyze essays and articles in such a way that you begin to understand how to evaluate and assess researched materials.
--to learn to write an analytical essay--one which presents a structured presentation of your analysis
--to become more comfortable using databases and Leo

Overview of the assignment

Step 1: Begin by choosing one of the essays listed below.

Thomas Stoddard, "Gay Marriages," 57-59.
"Hearings before the subcommittee on Health and Environment, House of Representatives, HIV Transmission,"299-315.
Ellen Willis, "Putting Women Back into the Abortion Debate," 212-219.
Randall Terry, "The Abortion Clinic Shootings," 220-221.
Rush Limbaugh, "Condoms: The New Diploma,"292-295.
Anna Quindlan, "A Pyrrhic Victory, 296-297.
Ellen Goodman, "The Reasonable Woman Standard," 509-511.
Catharine A. MacKinnon, "Sex and Violence: A Perspective," 512-518.
Judy Brady, "I Want A Wife," 70-72.
Susan Jacoby, "A First Amendment Junkie," 22-24.

In most cases, the choice of essay (or play) broadly dictates your choice of subject so that you will be writing within the context of one of the following current issues: Gay marriages/ AIDS/ Abortion/ Condoms, Safe Sex, Promiscuity, teenage sexual practices, the new sexual morality (or lack thereof), Sex Education/ Sexual Abuse, Rape, Women as victims of Violence/Changing Sexual Roles, before and after the Sexual Revolution/ pornography

Step 2: Analyze the essay. Analysis is related to definition, and relies on the use of such rhetorical devices as analogy, illustration, description, and comparison and contrast. To explain, to analyze, to define is to see the parts of the essay (title, thesis, purpose, method, persona, closing paragraph) in relation to the whole, to see the details as they come together to create a design, make a pattern. One of the ways of thinking about what it means to define , to analyze, to explain, is to think, quite literally, in terms of drawing lines, providing the actual or metaphysical boundaries between that which you wish to analyze or understand (the essay or story) seeing it for what it is--enclosed in a space apart, within its own limits, or limitations, discrete--and for whatever it isn't. Analysis can also involve seeing something in terms of something else, juxtaposing one thing and another, placing the essay (or story) in a relevant context, in this case, in the context of an issue.. Analysis rightly and inevitably leads to evaluation, for once you have understood the way in which an essay has been constructed, you are in a position to say how well and truly that construction works to affect readers (in general, or, in this case, you). The evaluative conclusions you draw need not go beyond a sentence or two, To help you to do this, reread pages 34-57 and 73-81 in Current Issues, paying particular attention to the subject headings on pages 79-81.) Write a two paragraph annotation of the essay; the first paragraph should be a brief summary; the second should consist of an analysis of the essay's contents as you consider and apply the criteria related to the essay's various aspects.

Step 3: Review Go for the Gold Module 3
Do Go for the Gold Module 4

Using either databases (choose from: Health Sciences databases, Social Science databases, Women's Studies databases)or by using Leo (and limiting your search to periodicals), find one article that specifically pertains to the subject you have chosen. (see Step 1.)

Xerox and read the article. Be sure to write down all bibliographical information identifying the source and author. As you read, write a summary of the content of the article; then jot down your reactions, questions, and evaluations. Use the following questions to help you with your analysis/evaluation:

what aspects of the writer's persona can you detect?
what ideas and interests dominate?
what can you detect about the writer's sense of audience?
does the writer use any specific, visual or verbal cues that allow you to understand the piece's form and organization? (say what)
what are the author's credentials (are there any?) and can you make any determinations about the author's reputation in his field?
what evidence or support or documentation is given to support the author's ideas?
can you detect any implicit bias or slant in the piece of which you should be aware?/ which should make you wary ?
Use the summary and the answers to the questions to write a two paragraph annotation of the article.
(In the first paragraph, summarize the article's content; use the second paragraph for analysis; conclude with the bibliographic citation. For the proper MLA format, consult Everyday Writer, 299-314.)

Step 4: Research your subject further (consulting 3 additional secondary sources ) to provide you with sufficient background on the issue so that you yourself become something of an expert and in a position to more comfortably and competently analyze the essay or article of your choice. Compose the first draft of an analytical essay, focusing on either one of the Current Issues essays or on the single article that was your focus in Step 3. Try to provide a focus or thesis for your paper based on your analytical discoveries and on the further evidence you have discovered, roughly following the order suggested below:
Your analysis of an argument, then, will move from the process of analysis definition/explanation) to evaluation, or to a series of evaluative comments on the essay (or article) you have chosen. Finally, the analysis and the research will have contributed to the construction of your own considerate and probing argument.
Speaking of arguments: you are writing, guess what? Not a speech. Not a research paper. Not a demagoguing diatribe. An essay. An essay of human, personal, passionate (hopefully, compassionate) dimensions which thoughtfully analyzes as it takes a position on an issue, or as thoughtfully rejects it, or, failing that, which carefully, logically explains why no position can reasonably be taken.

Criteria which I will use for Evaluation of your essays:

for the grade of C ("average" work):
--the paper offers a relatively clear insight into the issue which your essay explores
--provides a relatively clear structure
--consists of 3-4 pages minimum, and uses a minimum of 4 sources
--includes a fairly effective analysis and evaluation of a sample of writing

Due dates: Two paragraph analysis of a Current Issues essay due: October 14th.
Two paragraph analysis of an article due: October 18th.
First draft due:--October 23rd
Revised draft due--October 26th.
Final draft due--October 28th

Once again, the last, but by no means least, page of your paper will be the Works Cited page (see the Sample Works Cited Page on page 329) in The Everyday Writer, and remember to follow the Correct MLA-form of in-text citation. No excuses. No exceptions. No errors. No omissions. No messing about.)

 

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