Argument of Definition
If you need more information just email me and let me know. I was thinking about using the American Dream as my term, but am open to anything at this point. The pieces of literature that it refers to from the text are: The declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson) and the I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King. The instructions are kind of vague as to which piece of literature to base this assignment on, but I have a list available if you want to choose another term and topic… just let me know and I can send it.
ENGL 1213: English Composition II Argument of Definition
For this assignment, you will select a term that is controversial and/or ambiguous and define what it means to you, using outside research to support your argument/definition. Examples of such terms are heroism, father, terrorism, Christian, happiness, role model, the American Dream, beauty, patriotism, American exceptionalism, etc. In your argument, you may use numerous methods to develop your definition – analogy, cause and effect, comparison and contrast – or simply use examples to make your argument. In addition to defining your term, you should also specify what your term is not, differentiating it from similar terms. This essay should include outside research – such as news stories, interviews, and/or scholarly articles – to support your argument.
• Use invention techniques such as brainstorming, listing, cubing, reporters’ questions, freewriting, and clustering
• Consider an external audience to guide tone, vocabulary, and content • Establish a tone that is suitable to both your topic and purpose • Write in a clear, concise, and engaging manner • Incorporate outside sources that are both current and relevant to support your argument • Effectively integrate quotations from sources
• Properly cite all quotations, summaries, and paraphrases • Use sound logic and avoid the use of fallacies • Utilize the writing process – inventing, writing, revising, and editing – from start to
• MLA Format • 12 point font (Times New Roman or Arial) • 3-4 pages, not including the Works Cited page • A minimum of two outside sources, correctly quoted and cited • All sources are subject to approval by instructor • Your instructor may require you to turn in copies of all articles and materials • You must submit all required materials as specified by your instructor. Such materials
may include invention processes, outlines, rough drafts, peer editing feedback, feedback from a tutoring service (ECHO, Communications Lab, Grade Results, etc.), and final copies
• Use thought-provoking examples from sources outside of the text to make your definition more concrete and believable
• Use a work of literature from the text to introduce the term and elaborate upon its meaning
• Use the work of literature and outside sources to connect the topic within the literature to everyday life
• If possible, find and use hard data – statistics, polls, first-hand accounts – in your outside sources to support your definition.
• While your essay will likely contains appeals to pathos, ground your argument in logos • Use a clear pattern of organization – examples, comparison and contrast, analogy, cause-
and-effect – within your essay to give it a clear, focused shape
• Choose a term whose meaning is ambiguous. For example, what is heroic to one person may be cowardly to another. Likewise, genius can be defined according to very different standards. This is where your argument comes into play: your purpose is to make a compelling argument for your specific definition.
• Choose a term that is controversial. Patriotism, for example, has many different definitions – some of them conflicting with others. Justice, likewise, means different things to different people. Terms such as these lend themselves to this assignment.
• Use a work of literature from the text to introduce the term that you are seeking to define. Begin by providing a brief synopsis of the work of literature, making sure to identify both the author and the title of the work. Then, explain how the term is central to the work and define what the term means to you. Then, in the body, use a clear pattern of organization:
o Example-by-example – find examples in outside sources that illustrate your definition of the term
o Comparison and contrast – compare and contrast your definition of the term with other prevalent definitions, using outside sources to highlight your findings
o Cause-and-effect – use outside sources to show how your term exists in a cause- and-effect relationship; you might, for example, use stories of the Great Recession to show how the financial collapse altered the definition of the American Dream or happiness or rich
o Analogy – define your term by comparing it to something else, thereby clarifying your definition. The American Dream, for example, has long been described as a house with a white picket fence because that image embodies success, financial security, social status, and happiness. Certainly, though, that definition changes with the times and is open to debate.