Type an essay, of 3 full, double-spaced pages*, that responds to the following prompt –
Write an essay that first summarizes, and then analyzes and evaluates, ONE of the following argumentative essays. Do not argue for or against the issue being discussed; rather, analyze how the argument is put together and developed, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the argument:
– Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “Go Ahead, Speak for Yourself” (pp. 114-116)
– Nausicaa Renner’s “How Do You Explain the ‘Obvious’?” (pp. 117-119)
– James Q. Wilson’s “Just Take Away Their Guns” (pp. 124-126)
– Bernie Sanders’s “We Must Make Public Colleges and Universities Tuition Free” (pp.
– Matthew Walther’s “Sorry, Nerds: Video Games Are Not a Sport” (pp. 194-195)
Look over the example of an analytical essay on pp. 188-190; however, do not merely imitate the form and style of the sample essay. Originality goes a long way.
You may want to review the Checklist for Writing an Analysis of an Argument on p. 191, to help you keep on track.
– Format your essay according to the MLA Manuscript Format (see attached).
– Include an MLA-style Works Cited page that lists the essay/article you are analyzing.
– *If your essay is fewer than 3 full, double-spaced pages long, not including the Works Cited
page, you will automatically receive a grade of 59% or lower (i.e., failing) on this assignment.
1. Pre-writing: To prepare to write, first try to answer the following questions regarding the
essay that you are analyzing. These questions should serve as brainstorming tools to help you develop ideas.
– What is the author’s thesis?
o Is the thesis stated directly, or is it implied?
o Overall, is the thesis well supported in the essay? Is it not?
– What is the author’s purpose?
o Is it to persuade or merely to report/inform?
o Is it to reach a particular audience or a general audience?
– What is the author’s persona?
o Ethos: Does the author come off as a friendly person, a hard-hitting and fact- based person, a sarcastic know-it-all, a very well-informed professorial type, an open-minded person, an angry person, a “hip” person, or a combination of any of these? If so, does this persona help or hinder the author’s attempt to achieve her or his purpose?
– What are the author’s methods?
o Logos and pathos: which of these approaches to arguing are in the essay, and do
they work to support the author’s purpose?
o Are there unconvincing rationalizations or convincing uses of reasoning? o What are any hidden or expressed assumptions in the essay? Are these
assumptions acceptable? Do you share these assumptions?
o Are there good or weak definitions provided, or is there an absence of a definition
where one is needed?
o Evidence (see pp. 96-105): What kinds of evidence does the author make use of in
her or his essay? Is any of the evidence presented convincing or unconvincing? Consider the accuracy, usefulness, or representativeness of the evidence. Are logical conclusions drawn from the evidence provided, or should the author’s conclusions be more limited or even different? Are facts confused with opinions?
o Are there key factors the author is not addressing (whether you are on her or his side of the argument or not)? Would the author’s essay be stronger if she or he addressed certain opposing viewpoints? Or, does the author already do an excellent job of addressing the most important opposing viewpoints?
o Could the author have presented her or his argument in a different order? Would that have made the argument better?
2. Now, write your thesis.
– State clearly whether you believe the essay succeeds in its purpose (whether its purpose
is to persuade/convince the reader or to do something else). Does it fall short of its goal (whether the author thinks she or he has achieved her or his goals or not)? Does the essay ultimately succeed, even though it falls short in certain places? Conversely, does the essay ultimately fall short of its goal, even though it is strong in certain places?
3. Your thesis statement should be one or two sentences long. (See the sample essay that I uploaded, in the Files folder.)
4. Next, decide what key points you will address in your analysis of the author’s essay. You CANNOT address everything, so select the best ideas you came up with when answering all of the questions above. You will discuss each point you want to make in some detail and
in one paragraph each. Each paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence stating the main point you will be making in the paragraph.
At minimum, you MUST address at least one detail from the following four categories (based on Step #1 from above): thesis, purpose, persona, and methods.
5. Organize these points, and write up a brief outline of the essay you will write.
6. Start writing your essay. It should have the following basic structure:
– First paragraph: This is your introductory paragraph, and it has two purposes: to introduce the author, title, main idea, and main purpose of the essay you are analyzing; and to transition to your thesis statement (see #2 above).
– Body paragraphs: Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence and should focus on only one key point you are making in support of your thesis. Discuss this point at length, providing and explaining examples from the analyzed essay. Be sure to link your discussion in each body paragraph back to your thesis!
– Concluding paragraph: Wrap up your discussion by reminding your reader of your main argument/thesis. Ideally, you will also leave your readers with something to ponder.
7. Revise and then edit your essay, paying particular attention to the following:
– Make sure the essay is unified with proper transitions between paragraphs and
– Check your sentences for clarity, word choice (diction), and grammar.
– Check for fragments, run-ons, comma splices, especially.
– Make sure your essay is formatted according to the MLA Manuscript Format. (sample
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