Argumentative essay

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For your first essay, you will be in charge of constructing a personal argument about any of the material we have read thus far. Since we obviously have not finished all the readings, you do not need to keep a perspective on all of them, and I am interested in your ability to specify a part in our readings you feel as though you can make a claim about. That is your primary goal for this essay—to make a claim, to take a position, and to argue for a specific way of seeing one element of our readings. There are a variety of ways in which you can think of how to structure this line of thinking. Here are the three major ways:

  • Disagree and explain why – “Hazlitt misreads the purpose of…”
  • Agree but with a difference – “Montaigne’s idea is useful, and can also be applied to…”
  • Agree and disagree simultaneously – “While Seneca is correct, one must also consider…”

What from our readings you choose to write about is up to your own discretion, but you must feel as though what is being created in your essay is an argument about the text. In other words, the goal of your paper must be to answer some kind of question posed by your writing. There are a variety of questions to ask of our readings, and many will produce a solid argument.

For this essay, you do not need to incorporate outside sources—I am primarily interested in your ability to construct your own perspective on the text and argue for it persuasively. However, I do encourage you to quote the reading in question to help ground your argument and make its claims more concrete. Since this paper is only 1500 to 2000 words, be cautious with your quoting, and papers that over-rely on quotes will struggle—remember that it is your writing and analysis I am evaluating, not a philosopher’s. Make sure to use MLA formatting for your paper, but if nothing else: double-spaced, 12pt. Times New Roman.

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