The Rhetorical Situation

Essay 4/Researched Position Paper English 1302: Rhetoric and Composition II Due: See the Course Calendar Page Length: 4-5 pages

The Rhetorical Situation

For your Issue Proposal, you organized your preexisting knowledge on your issue and sketched a plan for research. You then compiled several sources and summarized their contents for your Annotated Bibliography. In your Mapping the Issue paper, you traced the controversy surrounding your issue by describing its history and summarizing the major positions on it. Now—finally—it is time for you to have your say on the issue.

For this paper, you will advocate a position on your issue with a well-supported argument written for an audience that you select.

Invention (i.e., discovering what you’re going to say in this paper) 1. Choose a specific audience (no “American people” or “people interested in my topic”) for your paper. Your audience should be a person, group, organization, website, publication, etc.  named by a proper noun (i.e., you have to capitalize it) and with an address (physical or electronic) to which you could send your paper.

Make sure you investigate the characteristics and values of your audience.

2. Your audience likely will want to know immediately both the conversation you’re responding to and your own position. Furthermore, they will want to know that you are advancing the conversation, turning it in a new direction, rather than just repeating another writer’s argument.

3. Your audience certainly will expect you to support your claim with good reasons, so attach as many reasons as you think necessary. You’ve probably selected good reasons. If not, then you may need to select reasons that appeal more effectively to your audience’s values. Alternatively, you may try to persuade your audience to grant your reasons.

4. For each of your reasons, provide sufficient evidence that your reasons are true. Your personal experiences, observations, and reasoning count as evidence, but you should also draw extensively on outside sources for evidence to support your reasons.

5. Address at least one extended counterargument to some part of your argument. You may choose a hypothetical naysayer or a real opponent found in an outside source. Make sure you:

  • name and describe your opponent(s).
  • describe your opponent’s position fairly and accurately.
  • make any necessary concessions, i.e., identify areas of agreement between you and your opponent.
  • respond with a well-considered and reasonable rebuttal.

6. Think about how you’re going to come across to your audience as a person of good character, good sense, and good will. Here are some tips:

·       Know what you’re talking about. Find ample outside sources, read extensively on your topic, and use information from sources to provide sufficient evidence for your reasons.

·       Show regard for your readers. Try to come across as approachable and thoughtful, not arrogant or insensitive.

·       Treat skeptical readers with respect—don’t ignore or demean their opinions just because they expect more proof.

·       Be careful and meticulous in your writing, not sloppy or disorganized.

7. Think about the values and emotions that you share with your audience and consider how you might appeal to them. Here are some tips:

  • Because you are choosing your audience, it’s up to you to determine the most effective style for your paper.

·       Try to evoke emotions (sympathy, outrage, anger, delight, awe, horror, etc.) in your audience that make your paper more moving.

·       Try to evoke sensations (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling) in your audience that make your writing vivid and help readers experience things imaginatively.

·       Appeal to values (freedom, justice, tolerance, fairness, equality, etc.) that you share with your audience.

Arrangement (i.e., organizing what you’re going to say in this paper)

You’ll want to organize your paper in the manner you think will prove most effective with your

audience, but here are some general guidelines:

  • As has been the case with all your papers, the conversation you’re responding to is the one surrounding the issue you’ve selected. Indicate at the beginning of your paper that you’re writing in response to that conversation, and then state a thesis that includes your claim and reasons.
  • Like your last paper, this piece is unsolicited, which means you must work hard to demonstrate why your issue matters and to attract readers. Providing compelling answers to the “so what?” and “who cares?” questions is crucial.
  • However, you arrange the body of your paper, make sure you include all the information requested in the Invention section of this prompt.

Style (i.e., choosing the appropriate language for your paper)

You’re writing for a highly specific audience, so avoid writing to some vague, generalized reader. When reading your paper, it should be obvious that you’re writing to the audience you’ve identified.

All readers appreciate coherent, unified paragraphs, so your paragraphs should include a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea of the paragraph and supporting sentences that cluster around the main idea without detours.

Document your sources properly according to MLA style. Use the Purdue OWL or other online writing labs for help on how to format in-text citations and works cited entries. Proofread carefully; avoid errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. Use the Purdue OWL online for questions you have regarding style.

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