Ch. 5 Finding Purpose Through Argumentative Writing

Ch. 5 Finding Purpose Through Argumentative Writing -...

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Finding Purpose Through Argumentative Writing By Dr. Bob Staples Arguments of De|nition Introduction People discuss, argue, or debate constantly, and many arguments are settled by de|nition. In an English class, a professor might ask the class, “What is literature?” Many answers have been proposed to this simple question, which can determine or reveal what someone thinks about literature and/or reading. Is literature merely anything that is written? Is it any book or poem or play? Does the word only refer to particularly good writings? Is it referring to old, boring, hard-to-understand writings, as some students believe? De|nitions can be ¦uid, and many times several de|nitions can apply to the same object or idea. For example, each member of a family exists in several categories at once: one can be daughter, student, sister, employee, athlete, etc. The categories to which people belong, which de|ne them, have diˆerent, sometimes contradictory, expectations. Father: I thought we agreed that you could not go out until you cleaned the garage! Son: Agreed? I did not agree with that. You said that, but I do not remember agreeing to do anything. Father: As long as you are living here, you will contribute to the household or pay rent. Son: I’ll clean the garage tomorrow. Pay rent?! Where did that come from? Father: It comes from the fact that you do nothing… Son: Wait, wait, wait, I thought that, as your son, and while I’m a student, I was welcome to return home and visit whenever, that I would be welcome in my home. Father: Visit! You have been here since you dropped out of school and lost your job. You… Son: I am going back to school. You treat me like a kid. I’m 20 years old; I’m not a kid. Father: Then quit acting like one. This kind of scenario causes tension in many families. Children grow up and often live at home long after high school. The problems arise because roles and expectations are not clearly de|ned. Is a 20-year-old living with his parents in their home a kid? A student? If a debate or essay is to be convincing, it must establish a reasonable de|nition of the topic being discussed. For example, in a discussion about whether cheerleading is a sport, a clear de|nition of sport is required. This chapter will look at examples of how de|nition is used or neglected every day, strive to de|ne de|nition, and examine the creation of the de|nitional essay. Exercise 1 1. The following conversation suˆers from a de|nition problem. What terms used in this discussion need clari|cation or de|nition in order to improve understanding? Student: Professor, I'm not sure why you gave me a C- on my essay. Professor: Well, the assignment asked for you to write an essay with a de|nition argument, and … Student: I thought I did that, and … Professor: Please let me |nish. The key word in my previous statement was essay. You wrote a de|nition, but you did not write an essay. An essay should be multiple paragraphs, at least four or |ve, with an introduction and conclusion and a clear thesis statement. You gave me one long paragraph that talked
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