Purpose of the Assignment
As the final step in your sequenced writing project, you will offer a critical position on the issue you have been investigating all semester. In other words, you will make a new or unique claim about your issue and develop that claim by arguing from synthesized evidence. As before, “critical” does not necessarily mean “negative,” but rather more complicated or complex. Similarly, a “position” is not always a firm stance, but rather a placement, a leaning, or an attitude. The critical position you take should demonstrate how deeply you have investigated your issue.
 
In about 1500 words (~6 typed pages), develop a position on your issue by using at least five (5) sources. Four of these should be old sources that you have already read or essays that we have discussed in class. Three of these should be academic in scope and run at least 1000 words. As you did for the Synthesis Paper, discuss one (1) additional multimedia source to help you frame your argument.
Common “moves” in Critical Arguments
By now you know that the organization of a Critical Argument will be determined by the critical position you wish to take. However, here are some common moves in argumentative essays:

  • Write an informative introduction in which you frame your argument, orient an unfamiliar reader to the issue, discuss and justify its need or significance, and clearly articulate your position (your “main claim”). You want to establish some common experience with your reader.
  • Articulate your position by presenting a synthesis of the main ideas or perspectives that will help you argue. You want your reader to understand “Why is this issue interesting and why am I reading about it?”
  • Develop your position with several points (“smaller claims”) that are interesting, original, and effective. Each of these points should represent new ideas or perspectives that are necessary for the reader to understand your critical position. They should not simply repeat the main ideas of the sources you have read.
  • Following a point-by-point organization, discuss the connections between your sources on each claim (synthesize the sources to support each claim).
  • Include alternate views, complicating views, or oppositions and then respond to them with evidence or examples.
  • Write a conclusion that “echoes” the introduction and leads the reader to a new point or realization about your argument. This can include a call to action, a suggestion about what needs to be done next, a new critical question, or any other strategy that helps the reader understand “Why should I care about what I have just read?”

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About the genre
Your audience includes other students taking a writing-intensive course at IU. This means that you cannot assume they have any familiarity of your specific issue, but you can assume that they will have an opinion on your issue.
This assignment emphasizes important aspects of writing argumentative essays, such as making a formal thesis statement, developing that statement through supporting claims and counterarguments, putting sources into conversation with one another by making analytical or “lens” claims, achieving paragraph focus and coherence, and avoiding logical fallacies.
This assignment also emphasizes important conventions of writing argumentative essays such as using a title that reflects the specific claim you are forwarding, using neutral language and maintaining a balanced tone, using attributive tags, using cohesion devices, and citing and referencing published sources in MLA style. Please cite the multimedia source.
“Critical Position” and Claim Statement
The “critical position” you argue for should not just be a matter of fact, personal opinion, personal taste, or claims of belief. It should not be something that is easily agreed upon, has already been resolved, or is taken directly from a single source. Instead, this “critical position” should be an independent idea. To articulate your position in a claim statement, begin with your most recent realization from SA #4 and decide whether or not it is arguable. The following claim statements are arguable because they offer a specific response, offer to make new knowledge, or demonstrate an understanding of multiple perspectives. They also provide a justification for the claim:

  • Indiana University’s “24-hour culture” challenges Jamieson’s notion that “culture evolution” is positive if we look at how it impacts social discourse. A hyper-active campus environment can negatively affect our desires, abilities, and methods of communication.
  • In my interpretation of Pratt and Lambert’s levels of socialization, I have found that the barriers that exist at Level One all involve one common theme, which is that international students must be prepared to leave their comfort zone and behave in a way that is not familiar to them. Thus, the “barriers” at Level One can be considered as positive stepping-stones to Level Three, since international students who go outside their comfort zone early are more likely to form Level Three friendships more quickly.
  • The difference between how Katz defines “power” and how I understand “power” in electronic communication leads me to believe that “power” is valued differently in writing than in speech. In writing, sophistication and correctness make someone seem powerful; in speech, accuracy and speed make someone seem powerful.

Evaluation Criteria
This assignment is worth 200 points. It will be evaluated based on the following:

  • Appropriateness or Effectiveness of Content
  • Development of Ideas
  • Organization and Coherence
  • Language and Vocabulary
  • Grammar and Style
  • Completeness and Formatting

 

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