Making a Claim
I'm sure that there are things that bother you about living in a particular town or attending this university. Here's your chance to propose a change or to at least identify the problem (make a claim) for the public to consider. While you can think about this topic in moral or ethical terms, since you'll be identifying an audience that you want to persuade, it would probably be unwise to frame your proposal in moral and ethical terms. That might suggest your audience is immoral or unethical, and that will get you nowhere. So, consider some aspect of university life or city life that is problematic or could be better and develop a claim. (See Chapter 6 of Essentials of Argument).
For this paper, you'll need to identify a very specific audience. For instance, if you were to write about campus parking, you would need to identify the individual or individuals on campus who handle this matter (the Dean of Students perhaps?). You'll want to address the person or committee specifically and write this piece (probably in the form of a letter) to that individual or committee.
This paper will require some kind of research, but the form of the research will vary, and you'll need to present that research in such a way that you're not necessarily quoting from a text. For instance, it might require interviews or surveys. Or you might do some internet searches to see if other universities or towns had this problem in the past and have solved it. If I were to write about recycling, then it would probably be helpful to find some statistics regarding, for instance, how long it takes a plastic soda bottle to decompose (450 years!).
As you develop your claim, ask (from Essentials of Argument):
- Is the claim narrow and focused?
- Which controversial words in your claim will you need to define?
- Can you learn enough to cover the claim fully?
- How can you make your claim both interesting and compelling to yourself and your audience?
- At what point are you and the audience enter the conversation on the issue? (131-32)
Week 11: March 27-31
Week 12: April 3-7