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You will write 6-8 pages in which you do the following:

Issue Selection: In this course you may choose almost any issue you wish, but

you may not write about Abortion, Paying Student Athletes, Sports, Legalizing Drugs, Faith, Social Media or Video Games

. In the past these issues have not resulted in very effective papers although I occasionally permit students to write about social media, drugs, or religion if they talk with me in office hours before they get very far into the issue. Before you choose an issue to explore, read about

Aristotelian Argument

. Once you have an idea of what end toward which you are writing, you will have a better idea as to what kind of issues work. Also,

Purdue Owl

offers some useful ideas about choosing issues under “Research Papers.” Keep in mind that your issue needs to allow you to make a policy claim (see Central Relationship in

Aristotelian Argument



Read Prewriting Strategies

, and then read Mary’s Freewrite. Then read the rest of this section In free writing (or any invention technique at this point) the idea is to get ideas on paper. Keep in mind that AT THIS POINT IN THE PROCESS many of those ideas should be about the history and consequences of your issue. So when you are writing what you know, what you think you know, what you’ve heard, etc, those ideas will serve as guidance to discovery. Don’t suppress other ideas that surface; they are useful. Just be sure you also free write about the history and consequences.

Invention does not require any research.

For example, if you look again at Mary’s Freewrite, you will see in sentence 1 she says “Teenage crime seems to be on the rise.” That’s a valuable idea for Mary because as you can see she offers no specifics to develop that idea. Fine. It’s a freewrite. All she wants to do is get words on paper. BUT that idea will be very valuable for her exposition because the idea serves as guidance as to an idea that Mary must discover what’s reasonable to believe about her declaration. Now she must find out if teen crime is in fact on the rise by comparing the amount of teen crime now to the amount of teen crime at some previous point (or points if she wants to show a trend) in time.

Mary makes many declarations like this that will guide her discovery as to the history and consequences of teen crime (Keep in mind that Mary still needs to come to a more specific meaning of teen crime, but it’s fine for her at this point in her process. For example, she says teen girls are more involved than in the past, she says teens are killing each other, and she says after school programs have been eliminated (NOTICE THESE ARE PAST OR PRESENT TENSE VERBS-THAT’S GOOD). The point is that she has clear direction as to what she must discover in the next phase of the process, discovery.

The Exposition

: The exposition is the beginning of an argument. All effective arguments begin with an exposition. You can think of it as a mini report. Its function is to use

concrete and specific language

to establish the significance of the issue and to bring readers to an understanding of the

issue today

. Significance is established by presenting

the history and consequences

of the issue. We will rely upon speakers (


) to provide words and ideas about that history and about those consequences. Take a look at the Examples of Draft Expositions to see how they differ in their effectiveness.

Some Rules about the Language Used in Expositions:


action verbs

. The language in an exposition should be

neutral language

. It should not show a bias regardless of your position. “The unfair policing bill was passed in 1992” is an example of biased language because it makes a judgement about the policing bill. So are “A militarized police force is a danger to us all” and “The Justice Department is corrupt.” Notice both of these claims use “to be” verbs. The “to be” verbs are “be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being.” When we use “to be” verbs as sentence verbs, we create non neutral language. We can use them as auxiliary verbs for action verbs as in “The Congress

is voting

” or “The bill

was judged

unconstitutional.” (Now if your goal is to persuade, you might use biased language to create a particular ethos or pathos, but remember; our goal is to discover what, if anything is reasonable to believe about a significant issue expressed in a claim.)

The tense of verbs used in an exposition should be

present or past tense

since we are writing about history and current understanding. Future tense can be used if we are citing a source that is relevant to the issue, but even that is rare.

The exposition should contain

no modals

. Modals are parts of verbs that indicate the moods of verbs. The modals are “should, could, would, might, may, must, shall, will, can, has to, ought to, needs to.” It’s possible that a modal might be used by a source, but try to avoid doing so.

Use concrete and specific language

. For example,


tell us

that “household incomes have gone down over the last twenty years,”

show us

that “the median family income for a family of four in 1999 was $32,000, and that family’s median income today is $27,000.”

Make sure the end of the exposition brings us to an understanding of what’s going on with the issue today.

The Central Relationship

Aristotle is interested in meaning, and he believes that meaning is found within relationships. An argument is made of many relationships. The most fundamental relationship in an

Aristotelian argument

is the Central Relationship. Some rhetoricians call it the enthymeme. Some call it a truncated syllogism. Regardless of what we call it, it is the fundamental building block of an

Aristotelian argument

. It is the structure that functions to determine what belongs in an argument and what does not. It is the claim and the reason for that claim that is validated by everything else in the argument.

The central relationship is comprised of three parts. Two of those parts are visible; the third is invisible but can be derived if the visible parts are structured appropriately. The two visible parts are 1) the thesis, and 2) the because clause (aka the central reason). Because we are writing arguments and not reports or some other genre of writing, our thesis will be a policy claim. Our because clause will be the reason we believe that policy claim, that thesis, to be reasonable.

Explain What You Knew: Discuss what you already knew about your topic. In other words, offer readers some context. You may even want to incorporate some of the material from your Personal Inquiry Essay or write new narrative material to engage and inform your readers.

Tell What You Wanted to Learn and Why: Let readers know what you wanted to find out about your topic and Find sources.

You will need to cite from and work carefully with at least six different sources in your essay. These sources can be a combination of scholarly and popular sources, though all of them will need to be credible. This means you should avoid at all costs any kind of conspiracy theory and/or political think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation (unless, of course, you are very clearly analyzing how these sources are using information and data to manipulate people).

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