Assignment 4

As you know by now, you have an essay due Thursday, June 14. This essay will be a work of social criticism, but do not let the subject matter scare you, as it is an essay that will employ skills you already have.

In previous years you have written opinion pieces that make an argument about society.  You most likely railed against some problem or injustice in fairly general terms and hoped that the weight of your words, the sheer mass of your rhetorical skill, would be enough to convince your reader.  Having read this unit’s articles, however, you are now aware that writing credible social criticism takes more than just your angry words (although Gatto’s essay is pretty striking).

To write a truly effective essay, you will have to support your argument with research drawn from credible sources.  This research can and should take the form of statistics, quotations from experts, or case studies and examples. Think about how Gopnik cites authors that both support and refute his point. Examine how Gladwell makes use of specific cases to create a framework of parallels for his point. Ponder at the skill Lewis uses when selecting quotations. All of our readings can serve as your guides when you write.

When choosing a topic and argument, be deliberate and thoughtful.  Remember that a focused argument is essential.  While you might have written about “the evils of consumerism” in previous years, now it is time to focus in on something more specific and more worth arguing.  You have only two to three pages, so you’ll have to keep your scope narrow.  Try to pick something that interests you, as your interest and energy will come through your writing (remember EB White’s chickens).

Lastly, for those of you having trouble finding resources to work with, you can find a wealth of articles on a multitude of topics here. That site is best approached after you have chosen and area of interest; don’t go there first.

Remember, as always, that you should email me if you have questions.  Good luck.


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