This essay is due on the last day of class.
- Use Tompkins’ essay as a model for your own.
- From the list below, choose ONE of the issues facing the United States. I have identified the issue and provided you with required sources, which you must analyze, evaluate, compare, and synthesize in your paper.
- While you may already have a position on the issue you select, do not formulate your conclusion/major claim until thoroughly researching a diversity of perspectives on the issue. Practice the critical thinking skills you have learned in this course and keep an open mind. You may want to review previous modules, but you should give your mind and heart over to the research and the process of discovery–about the issue and about yourself. Tompkins shares a lot with her readers, and this in turn strengthens her argument. You should do the same.
- Conduct extensive research on the question/problem and distinguish between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., as Tompkins did, and then narrow them down to best represent a diversity of perspectives in your paper. You are not restricted to U.S. sources. You must analyze and synthesize a total of 8 perspectives, which includes the ones that are required. Tertiary sources and other research will undoubtedly be needed and used, but they do not count in the 8 required perspectives (because they do not represent perspectives).
- Once you determine your conclusion/major claim, identify your audience, which should be resistant to your position. Like Tompkins, you are going to take them through your research to lead them to your conclusion.
- Use inductive reasoning and Tompkins’ structure as a model for the writing of your essay:
- narrate history and personal relationship (experiential, observational, and or intellectual) to the question/problem; if you have no history or relationship to the issue, you may use someone you know–be creative. Like Tompkins, begin with a strong appeals to pathos and ethos to engage your readers;
- establish broader, national context for question/problem–this is your kairos;
- establish exigency;
- present/define question/problem;
- summarize, analyze, compare, and evaluate authors AND their arguments representing a diversity of perspectives (key: it is not enough to look at the primary text, as you must look at the writer and the original source of publication to evaluate bias, as Tompkins did);
- synthesize research and response to it;
- present your conclusion, your resolution or solution to the question/problem (which may side with one or more of your sources), and provide reasons and evidence to support it–this should be a minimum of one, well-developed page, not just a final paragraph;
- if applicable, share any new question/s or problem/s encountered as a result of your research and critical thinking (as Tompkins did in her last paragraph).
- Adapt Tompkins’ style and tone with your own; it is particularly effective for a resistant audience, a way of showing (rather than “telling”) and persuading them to arrive at your conclusion. Yes, you may use “I,” as you are taking your audience through your epistemological adventure, but be strategic with it.
- Note: Remember, rarely is this type of argument (often called “Rogerian”) meant to utterly convince an audience; in fact, it is enough to just get a resistant audience to reconsider their own position/perspective in light of reading your comprehensive research and synthesis. One might also say that many people do not have fully informed opinions on subjects–this paper counters that. Arguments at this level are not about “winning,” and this is not a course in debate. This is about persuading an uninformed or reluctant reader (one who does not agree with you) to reconsider their position.
- TIP: Your reader should not know your position until the end of the paper; as Tompkins did, you are arguing inductively. Also, do not insult your uninformed/reluctant audience. Tone matters. Take perspectives seriously, even when they are the opposite of your own. Most of you will review Tompkins before starting this.
Choose from this list of Contemporary Issues Facing the United States
You must choose one of the following three options (A, B, or C) for your paper–papers not on one of these topics will receive a zero.
(Note: While the Grossmont College Databases, especially Opposing Viewpoints, are excellent and should be used for your paper, you should also have no problem finding a plethora of perspectives on any of these current issues.)
A. Should the United States give reparations to African-Americans for Slavery?
- “The Case for Reparations,” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “The Case Against Reparations,” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Kevin D. Williamson.
- Jordan Anderson, Letter to P.H. Anderson, (August 7, 1865) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
B. Should the United States open its border with Mexico?
- “Trump Officials Make Case for Border Wall” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Mallory Shelbourne
- “The Case for Getting Rid of Borders” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Alex Tabarrok
- “Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigration in America” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Vivian Yee, Kenan Davis, and Jugal K. Patel
C. Should college be free in the United States?
- “America Wakes Up from Its Dream of Free College” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Adam Harris
- “Free College Could Make America College-Free” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Ryan Craig
- “The Case Against Free College Tuition” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.by Richard Vedder
- Statement by Senator Bernard Sanders on College for All Act (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Final essay should be:
- a clear response to ALL of the directions;
- 8-10 pages in length;
- in correct MLA format and style, including in-text citations and the Works Cited page (do not include a cover page);
- well organized with effective transitions between ideas and paragraphs;
- efficient with regards to close work with sources, including, but not limited to, precise and concise summary and the smooth integration of direct quotes, block quotes, and paraphrases;
- the product of original, deep critical thinking, both with regards to content and form.
- meticulously proofread and primarily free of sentence-level errors;
- contain a minimum of eight sources representing diverse perspectives (including the ones I have provided).
- contain additional tertiary research.
This essay will be run through VeriCite. The program ensures originality by comparing submissions to billions of sources of academic content, publisher’s content, and against your own submissions—far beyond just Grossmont and Cuyamaca. Papers receiving a VeriCite score over 15% may result in a zero on the assignment and academic probation from the college. A VeriCite report on an essay below 15% is usually acceptable A high plagiarism percentage on VeriCite is typically over 25% (yellow, orange or red), and it almost always represents academic fraud. Please do your own work, handle your sources responsibly, and contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Additional Review and Resources
For this assignment, I assume you know how to do college-level research. If you feel as though your last English course did not prepare you for the type of research and critical work with sources required by this assignment, below are some resources you may find helpful:
- Grossmont College Online Tutorial: LUCI (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Library User Computer Instruction).
- Grossmont College Citation Help (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Grossmont College Databases (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.(Opposing Viewpoints is an exceptional database for this type of paper).
- Top Ten Tips for Doing E-Research at College (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.& Eight More Tips (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- What is Evidence? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- MLA Style: Integrating Sources: MLA-Integrating-Sources-Handout.pdf
- Links to an external site.Analysis and Synthesis (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Links to an external site.Comparing and Synthesizing Sources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.