Assignment: Write 800-word essay in which you persuade your reader to adopt one or another point of view on a controversial subject by offering a brief account of both
sides of the issue and then arguing for a particular position, with evidence to back up your claims . Note that the word limits are firm ones.
Choose a debate according to the following guidelines:
It must be one of action or policy rather than an exclusively moral or ethical question—i.e., not whether child prostitution is wrong (of course it is), but what
specifically can and should be done about child prostitution.
It must be current and relevant in some way.
It must be genuinely debatable, with a clear “on the one hand / on the other hand” statement you can make as a starting point.
It may be useful to choose an issue on which you have not already made up your mind, and on which you are therefore open to negotiation and compromise. Remember that
you are trying to inspire a change of view in your reader; your best approach is to choose something on which you may be open to adopting some kind of middle-ground
view yourself, as part of the process of negotiation.
It may be best not to choose a “Big Subject” like abortion, euthanasia, or capital punishment, in part because of the limited space you have for the assignment. Even
if it is limited to your own community or is otherwise very narrow in scope, choose something that meets the above criteria, that matters to you, that you want others
to take a particular stand on, that is documented in some public form (i.e., people talk about it, so it is written about in books, articles, the media, etc.), and
that you can describe and persuade somebody about in 700-800 words.
Once you have chosen the subject you are going to write about, visit the library and research both sides of the debate. Even though you will probably be writing about
something you know something about, you should remember to confirm what you think you know.
IF YOU USE INTERNET SOURCES FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT YOU MUST GET INDEPENDENT CONFIRMATION FROM A PRINT SOURCE. By this, I mean that an online source will only be fair game
for this assignment if it comes from a source that has some offline presence. For example, an article on CBC.ca or leaderpost.com would be fine because CBC and the
Leader Post exist offline, but an article on Wikipedia would not be acceptable. (This is for two reasons. First, it is important to begin working with more formal and
credible sources than you may be used to working with, since this is a key aspect of scholarly research work in this course and many others across the academy. Second,
you all know how to google; the point here is to encourage you to do other kinds of research and to work with–and subject to critical scrutiny–other kinds of sources
Suggestions for First-Draft Pre-Work
If you decide you would like to bring me a document in advance, it is best to submit a complete draft. If you do not submit a complete draft, you should at least
submit the following:
a) A statement of intent that includes your chosen topic and the position you would like to defend (i.e., what your stance on the issue is).
b) A list of the research resource(s) you intend to use.
c) A brief outline of your argument (i.e., what steps you will take to demonstrate the point you want to make)
Note b) above. This means that you will need to do some research ahead of time before you submit first-draft work to me, as you will have to provide a list of the
resources you intend to use to inform the argument and back up your claims. These may consist of newspaper or magazine articles, books, essays published in scholarly
journals, television or other media sources, and so on.
– Follow the format guidelines in the Department of English Style Sheet, available here.
– demonstrated understanding of the genre (a formal essay persuading an audience)
– well illustrated, clearly defined, informed presentation of the issue
– clear assertion of a workable resolution
– research and the use of evidence to support your claims
– correct and complete documentation of outside sources
– writing that is free of run-on sentences
– writing that is free of sentence fragments and comma splices (These will be penalized at -1% each.)