NATURE OF ESSAY: Research-based, argumentative essay; thoughtful reforms on a pressing social issue of
your choice from the topic list offered.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Meet all categories listed at p. 2 of this document: College Level Writing II, Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Information Literacy, Responsible Citizenship, and Academic Integrity.
PAGE LENGTH & ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS: Manuscript will consist of no less than 10 full pages of text, not counting bibliographic entries (called “Works Cited” under the required MLA system of documentation), listed at the end, and will include at least one and no more than two block-indented quotations.
RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS: Consistent with BCCC writing- program specifications, you are obliged to make substantive use of the following range and quality of sources4:
A minimum of five scholarly “print”5 sources, consisting of: o Two books
o Three peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals, which must be accessed through BCCC databases. See “Characteristics & Functions of Professional (or Trade), Popular, & Scholarly Publications” at page 3 of this document.
At least two reputable, authoritative websites, preferably accessed through BCCC’s Library Online Resources. Use “Website Evaluation Sheet” at page 4 of this document.
At least one personal interview of an “expert” on your topic.
Several sources from “popular” media, e.g., documentary films, PBS transcripts, and newspaper or magazine
articles accessed through EBSCO or Lexis-Nexis databases.
POINT OF VIEW: Except for a short section at the end (see “Peroratio” below), the essay is written in third- person (no “I” or “me”).
ESSAY ORGANIZATION: Follow the classical (Greek) pattern for written argument, which is roughly the same pattern as a legal brief. Major parts — under their Greek terms, their captions in legal briefs, and the sections, as you will identify them, in your outlines and rough drafts (shown in all-capital letters below) – are as follows:
I. “Exordium” / Statement of Claim / ESSAY INTRODUCTION: This opening section includes your interesting and provocative introduction—what the Greeks called “beginning a web.” It briefly introduces the problem you mean to address, including why the problem is an ethical concern that involves us all, and
4 Where possible, introduce your sources by any credentials that establish them as experts on the topic about which they are writing; you may need to Google their names to obtain such information.
5 This means that they appeared in print originally, though you are now accessing them online.
contains your thesis, which lays out WHO needs to do WHAT and WHY, to begin correction of the
problem. Introduce three reform measures.
II. “Narratio” / Statement of Facts / BACKGROUND outlines the background facts and statistics necessary
to understanding the nature and scope of the problem, including its causes, its effects, reform efforts that have been attempted so far, and your evaluation of the effectiveness of those efforts. Use your evaluative comments to segue to:
III. “Confirmatio” / Argument & Evidence / SOLUTIONS, which is the longest section of your essay, in which you argue your reform steps (who needs to do what and why), supporting them with research and causal analysis.
IV. “Refutatio” / REBUTTAL: Arguments have two sides, so you hurt your credibility and insult your reader if you breeze along pretending that there is no other view but your own. Accordingly, here is where you introduce and rebut opposing arguments you have encountered or criticisms that you anticipate might be raised. Do not blindly thrash for the jugular here; if there is some merit to opposing arguments, grant them that, but show how their deviation from the better reasoned and better supported argument (yours, I trust) is ill-advised or perhaps just does not consider long-term developments as effectively as you have.
V. “Peroratio” / CONCLUSION: Traditionally, here is where you wind down gracefully but forcefully, sometimes re-stating or summarizing your major points, oftentimes extending to the reader a challenging or plaintive appeal to take up the cause for which you are arguing.
o You must go one further: Also state how you personally are going to carry forward the changes
for which you are arguing in the essay. Give yourself as an example of how each person can make a difference.
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