C0250.6--Writing Arguments Course Overview

Course Goals: The course focuses on writing arguments for both academic and general audiences. There are four broad goals to this focus:

q to give students additional critical reading skills beyond the freshman composition level,

q to consider elements of argumentation in detail beyond that of freshman composition,

q to focus on argumentative strategies, patterns, and approaches as readers and writers, and

q to emphasize library and other reference resources throughout the course.


To accomplish these goals, you will be asked to write 4 essays, one with significant research, do a poster presentation, and as a final project, argue for a course grade.

Course Option: You are encouraged to make one of your writing projects a community service writing project. If you choose this option, you will need to contact an off-campus community group and do some writing on their behalf. Projects in the past have included writing fund-raising letters, research reports, manuals, newsletters, press releases, and promotional brochures. I know that many CSU students volunteer on their own, or through campus organizations, for various groups and causes. This option seeks to encourage that and to give you a way to bring that volunteer work into the classroom through writing. If you don't already do some volunteer work of some kind, this option is meant to offer you a way to do so, if you choose. I'll be very flexible about what counts as community service writing and about how to schedule your project in the course's framework. The goal is to make the project successful.

Course Assignments:

Your first essay begins today. I've chosen a column by Ellen Goodman, a syndicated columnist from the Boston Globe. I want you to first read, then respond to her essay. After taking time to respond, I want you to shift perspective and then analyze. We'll be having the response online, in our class discussion forum.

Your second essay will require you to have email and to join an email discussion list. Again, you will be asked to analyze arguments, but this time, arguments made via email discussion. You're welcome to join any list that's on a topic of interest to you, provided that the topic is suitable for discussion in class. Therefore, no sites devoted to porn stars, bomb-building, or some of the other more extreme categories available online. You're welcome to use popular culture lists, discussions of music, or television shows for example are o.k. You can also choose controversial lists, perhaps one on politics and impeachment. Choose a topic that you feel comfortable reading about and keeping up on, and that you feel inclined to discuss. In this essay, you are to be a participant/observer. You should take part in the discussions, and when you analyze the course of the conversation and the arguments used, you should take into account your own role. We will begin this project next week, but first drafts of your analysis won't be due until mid February.

Your third project will be the one for which you can substitute community service writing. I want you, simply, to write an argument of some kind, with the topic, purpose, audience all of your own choosing.

Your fourth essay will again be on a topic of your own choosing. It will involve research into a complex issue, one where thinkers bring different points of view. You will need to analyze different arguments, but also, based on that analysis, write your own argument. Further, you will be asked to present this argument on the WWW so that you can incorporate visual elements into your argument (graphics, color, and so on), as well as (if you choose) video, audio, and hypertext.

The Corel Presentation project will ask you to use Corel Presentation software to create a short presentation on a topic of your choice. You're welcome to incorporate material from another course with this project. The purpose of this assignment and the fourth essay that must be online is to make your familiar with two technologies that are growing in importance and influence in our society. You'll find that they not only alter how arguments are delivered, but also, how they are made.

Your fifth and final essay will be an argument for grade in the course.  This will be based upon completing all the course work and coming to all classes except, and only except, those you miss for emergencies and illnesses (hangovers don't count).  If you complete all work and come to all classes, you will be arguing up from a C.  Therefore it's key not to use as a premise for your argument that you deserve an A for effort or hardwork.  Hard work and effort guarantee you a C; hardwork and effort are expected. For a higher grade, you have to demonstrate what you have learned in the course by drawing on evidence--artifacts of course work, showing how that evidence indicates learning on your part--analyzing and explaining the evidence, and then, in the last part, assigning value to what you've learned.