We read three books this term (Kon-Tiki, Wish I Was There, and This Republic of Suffering), and now you have a chance to pass judgment on them. Which of the three books was the BEST one? Why? Please focus at least 75% of your essay on the choice you make to answer this prompt, while also discussing the other two books very briefly in comparative terms to make your primary argument most effective.
Remember, like any complex comparison, you have to go beyond face value or topical opinions. Each book is very different in terms of content, style, intent, audience, and delivery. You can’t judge them all on the same criteria. Therefore, you also must use some part of Everything’s an Argument in this essay as well, as the textbook will provide much insight for you in order to determine each book’s relative quality.
Choose your answer carefully. Don’t settle on the first idea(s) that comes to mind. You want an answer full enough to explore, not one you will quickly gloss over. So, choosing the “easiest” answer here may not help you do the assignment very well, for example.
Write a preliminary draft and check to make sure you have answered the assignment prompt above directly with the proper depth of thought and analysis. AVOID first-person, “I” statements in this assignment: just state your position in the third person instead. Using the collective “we” or “us” in terms of society as a whole is acceptable, however.
Remember to challenge yourself to critically THINK about what you’re writing. Do not merely SUMMARIZE the book; analyze it instead in terms of the response(s) requested above. Use examples from the reading itself and other materials you’ve been exposed to prior to this class.
Feel free to use documented evidence in support of your position. This creates a well-rounded argument in this kind of persuasive writing!
Introduction & Thesis
Thesis needs to say something; don’t just say “what”—make sure you explain “why” as well. Thesis to directly answer the prompt/question being asked. Formulaic thesis repeats the prompt/question right back into the thesis. Massage the formula to be creative and lend your own voice. Thesis is NEVER a question; it is a STATEMENT. Thesis can be more than one sentence; all depends on situation and assignment. Thesis is backbone of your paper, the anchor of what you’re saying. Think of your body with no spine; that is an argument with no thesis. Without a thesis, your paper will float adrift and be lost upon the audience. Give them the pathway to chart your argument clearly! Thesis must come early and be direct/clear—preferably end of first section/paragraph.
Topic statements (TS) introduce each point of support in a way that relates directly BACK to thesis. Topic statements are argumentative introductions; they must be argumentative rather than summation. Topic statements are NEVER questions. Topic statements are NEVER quotes. Topic statements are NEVER summary statements. Topic statements are mini-thesis statements for each idea in your support structure. Remember to order your support logically—do NOT randomly throw your support in any random order. Always finish with your best support last; build momentum throughout your paper. Remember, topic statements must ALWAYS be followed by specific support and development, like a chemical bond.
The emphasis is on specific: quotes and facts … something tangible and real. Any time you are writing about something you read, you MUST use quotes from the reading to support your ideas. Do not rely on generic statements or generalized stereotypes. Avoid personal examples unless specifically asked for in the prompt/question. Make sure your support is DIRECTLY relevant to the thesis/argument you’re promoting. Remember, specific support should be bookended by a preceding topic statement and subsequent development, all together like a chemical bond.
Explain CLEARLY why your specific support is relevant to your argument/thesis and topic statement. Don’t leave your audience to guess why your support is there. Audiences will not always think the same way you do, so explain it to them clearly. You must connect the dots and spell it out for them, even if it is obvious to you. Development is where your length comes from—short papers lack this element. Contextualize your support in relation to your thesis for your audience. Remember, topic statements, specific support, and development should always appear together, like a chemical bond, in your support sections of an essay.
The conclusion restates thesis and expands upon it. After spending the essay supporting thesis, you now can go farther. It does not repeat the thesis verbatim. Challenge your audience. If you use rhetorical questions, answer them yourself—don’t leave questions for your audience to guess at the answer, even if it seems obvious to you. Conclusion should ALWAYS be more fully developed (i.e. longer!) than introduction. Always. The conclusion is your last chance to make your point; don’t waste it. Think of an attorney who makes a closing argument; do they want to waste that last chance to persuade the jury? Think of your audience as a jury you have to convince of an idea.
Critical thinking (CT) generally means “discussing X in terms of Y”, like discussing a basement in terms of a hamburger (see Module #1 Lecture notes), or social theory in economic terms (see Module #1 Lecture notes video). Anticipate what concepts in your writing may cause a mental roadblock for your audience, and then create the intellectual detour around the mental roadblock! You take the base idea and add context to it in a way that expands the concept beyond expectation. Relate your argument to something seemingly off-topic or abstract, i.e. the use of a metaphor. The ability to logically connect two seemingly disparate ideas for argument is critical thinking. CT can occur anywhere in your essay; conclusion is the easiest place to put it, so don’t settle for that.
This is an English course, and I expect you to have a good command of grammar, punctuation and spelling skills in this English class. Any class-oriented writing you do, even if it is just an email to me, should be well-written and proofread to perfection (or as close as possible).
Total Points: 100