Here is a list of the activities to complete for this lesson. You may print it out and use it as a checklist, crossing off each item as you complete it, from top to bottom.
· What This Lesson Will Do for You
· Essay: Argumentation-Persuasion: The Art of Influence
· Minor Assignment
· Hints for the Minor Assignment
· Grading Rubric
· Worry-Level Check
In this lesson, you will select a controversial topic on which to write your next essay.
Let me give you my definition of the word controversy. A controversy is an issue on which intelligent, well-informed adults hold varying opinions. Almost everything political is controversial: well-informed Democrats and well-informed Republicans usually disagree. Many topics currently in the news are controversial because intelligent, well-informed adults have different ideas about how to handle societal problems. However, some topics in the news are not controversial. For example, child abuse is not particularly controversial because few intelligent, well-informed adults are for child abuse. Even child abusers are against child abuse, though it certainly happens anyway. On the other hand, some aspects of child abuse are controversial, such as whether or not spanking constitutes child abuse or whether children should ever be reunited with abusive parents.
Some rhetoricians (people who study rhetoric) believe that all communication is essentially an argument. By argument, they don't mean an unpleasant disagreement characterized by anger and shouting. Instead, they mean that, at some basic level, the purpose of all communication is to persuade an audience. When you order at a restaurant, you are persuading the server to bring you the food you want. When you tell your employer that you have finished a particular duty at work, you are also persuading him or her that you are a responsible worker. Even when you say hi to a friend or a stranger, you are persuading that person you are friendly.
According to this rhetorical theory, all written words are also meant to persuade. For instance, the words I am typing now are trying to persuade you to think about communication in a way that is, perhaps, new to you. Your Little Seagull Handbook, besides giving you the rules of grammar, is also subtly persuading you to use them in your writing. Even a simple stop sign is persuading you to stop at the intersection before proceeding.
On the other hand, some purposes are more argumentative than others. When you wrote about a day that made a difference, you were mainly informing the reader. When you wrote your rhetorical analysis, you evaluated the commercial, and when you wrote about your decision, you were evaluating your choices or speculating about the future. Informing, evaluating, and speculating are all suitable reasons to write college papers.
Some papers, however, have as their purpose the intent to convince the audience that one side of a controversial issue is more valid that the others....