Argumentative Essay

  •  First Draft Due: 4/17 Fri.
  • Peer Review Workshop: 4/17 Fri.
  • Final Draft Due: 4/27 Mon. -> 5/1 Fri.

 Executive Summary

You will write an essay that explores the role that social media plays in our social and political life. For instance, as Nicholas Carr and David Crystal analyze, you might talk about how our daily life is interwoven with the usage of social media. As Malcolm Gladwell and Clary Shirky claim, you can discuss in what way social media affect political activism. To write about the relationship between social media and the American presidential race is one good example. However this essay is not about supporting one candidate/party over another. Instead it will be an analysis of the role these technologies play. You might look at how social media is used in the campaigns. Alternately, you could consider the use of social media in other nations.

This is the most traditionally academic assignment in this class. You will discover that there are many different kinds of academic writing, just as there are many kinds of writing that go on beyond the campus. Biologists do not write like historians, who do not write like economists, etc. In this assignment you will be writing in a genre that is common in the humanities and somewhat like the school writing you have done in the past. You will make a claim about the role of social media (much as the authors of our class readings have done). You will support your claim by citing evidence from the class readings as well as outside sources that you discovered.

The Process

  1. Reading and Discussion: in traditional humanities student essays, the ability to make effective use of textual material is one of the most important skills. As you read, you need to identify the key points the authors make and highlight specific passages that you might want to quote latter. Any place where the author makes an interesting or significant claim should be marked. You will also want to take note of any specific evidence the authors offer that you might also wish to include. It is important to pay attention to authors who offer claims in opposition to yours or make counter-arguments against your claims. You will need to address these in your essay.
  2. Outside Research: in ENG 201 you will focus on writing an extended research project. Here you only need to find one source. You should look for an academic article in the university library database, but you might also consider longer magazine articles, like the ones we have been reading this semester. Do not cite a Wikipedia article. However, many of those articles include references to source materials that are appropriate for citation, so I do recommend that you consult Wikipedia. Do not cite a website unless you are certain it is credible. You should also avoid short newspaper articles. You can reference these if you want to talk about current events, but you will still need to find a credible academic source to cite. Check with me if you aren’t sure.
  3. Writing the Argumentative Essay: unless you have a great moment of insight, don’t start by trying to come up with your argument/claim. Start by writing about your sources, both the class readings and your outside research. Summarize their positions. Write about the quotes you want to use. Evaluate their arguments and explain why you agree or disagree with them. Discuss how they connect with one another. This kind of textual analysis will form the bulk of the body of your paper. Once you discover what your claim will be, start to pull this draft writing into a cohesive text. Then you can write the introduction and conclusion.


  • Your essay must be a minimum of 1250 words (5 pages) in length.
  • You must participate in the peer review workshop.
  • You must cite 1 class reading and 1 outside source.
  • You must include one counterargument.

Evaluation Criteria

You will be evaluated by the following criteria, roughly in order of decreasing importance:

  • Make a claim regarding the role of social media in our political and social life
  • Engagement with at least one of the readings from this module
  • Find and employ an appropriate piece of outside research
  • Use close readings of these texts to support your claim (thoroughly unpack quotes)
  • Consider counterarguments
  • Thoughtful response to workshop feedback
  • Clarity of writing (use of revising and editing skills)
  • Spelling, grammar, other stylistic concerns.

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