Argumentative Writing: The Dispossessed In Ursula K. LeGuin’s novel The Dispossessed, the world views of the Urrasti and the Odonians are vastly different with respect to society, politics, ethics (conscience), joy and freedom. Which society do you believe offers opportunities for the greatest happiness to its people, considering the unique features of both in terms of society, politics, ethics, freedom, and possession? Write an essay explaining which of the two societies you believe offers more opportunities for the greatest happiness to its people. Use the following guidelines for argumentative writing, including the templates (or variations on them), and the organizational pattern. Through explanation and examples, state your case. The Other Side: Your opinion on this question will be more strongly and persuasively stated if you also understand and express the other side. Consider the following excerpt from a recognized text on academic writing, They Say, I Say: “. . .the underlying structure of effective academic writing - and of responsible public discourse - resides not just in stating our own ideas, but in listening closely to others around us, summarizing their views in a way that they will recognize, and responding with our own ideas in kind. Broadly speaking, academic writing is argumentative writing, and we believe that to argue well you need to do more than assert your own ideas. You need to enter a conversation, using what others say (or might say) as a launching pad or sounding board for your own ideas” (3). As a writer, you need to do more than just logically state your views. You need to also enter into the conversation with the other point of view, expressing the “they say” side of the story. For example, notice the following “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr., consisting almost entirely of his response to clergymen who disagreed with his civil rights actions. The letter is written as a structure of summary and response; King first summarizes and then responds to their criticisms. Here is a typical passage: “ You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations” (5). King uses quotes from his critics to provide the background for what he has to say. Over and over he uses the opposition as a basis to prove his points, in “they say, but I say” manner. Rather than “playing it safe” and “sticking to his points,” he doesn’t mind provoking controversy, challenging accepted ways of thinking, and expressing lively ideas. Templates, or patterns of response, may help you lay out ideas. Furthermore, argumentative writing may also be essentially agreement, rather than disagreement. • “She argues __________, and I agree that ___________________. • “Her argument that _________________ is supported by _________________. Notice the following templates: • In recent discussions of ____________, a controversial issue has been whether ______________. On the one hand, some argue that _________________. From this perspective, _____________. On the other hand, however, others argue that __________. In the words of one of this view’s main proponents, “_________.” According to this view, ______________. In sum, then, the issue is whether ____________ or ______________. • My own view is that ______________. Though I concede that _______________, I still maintain that _______________. For example, ___________________. Although some might object that ______________, I reply that ______________. The issue is important because _____________. By entering into a conversation about the topic at hand, we recognize that there is not one or two possible points of view, but in fact many possible attitudes. You as a writer become a critical, intellectual thinker who participates in debates and conversations about ideas in a active way. Consider the quote below by the philosopher Kenneth Burke, in which he likens the world of intellectual exchange to a never-ending conversation at a party: You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. . . . You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you. . . The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. ~ From Kenneth Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Forms. Summaries: To crystallize your understanding of the two societies in The Dispossessed, write two summaries, one for the world view of the Urrasti on Urras and one for the Odonians on Anarres. Note key differences in all of the following: society, politics, ethics, freedom, and any other area you would like to include. In addition, to better relate these societies to our own world, note how each society agrees or disagrees with the ideas of Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton. See the notes in chart form on the two societies. If you do this well, a reader will not be able to tell which of the two views you agree with. Summaries will be due _______________________________________. Recall our study of classic rhetorical writing of Jonathan Edwards, the American Puritan. First is Invention, the process of coming up with good ideas. As Aristotle said, this includes ethos (ethics), pathos (emotion), and logos (reason). Next, the Position Statement, Argumentative Proposition, or Thesis Statement will present the idea. The traditional disposition or organization is as follows: • Introduction – establishes argument, and clarifies the importance of the issue • Statement of Case –tells the story behind the argument, offering background information • Proposition Statement – carefully states central proposition, as a thesis statement • Refutation – refutes opposition arguments, exposing faulty reasoning • Confirmation – develops case, using examples, facts, statistics • Digression – offers appealing anecdotes or description (ethos) • Conclusion – finishes with strong conviction; reviews main points, suggests call to action Notice how these elements fit with the outline below. Argumentative Essay, The Dispossessed - This writing may not fit neatly into a five paragraph essay. Requirements: That is fine. You may have five, six, seven, or even more 1. Summaries of the two societies paragraphs. Follow the outline. Try the templates, changing 2. An outline in traditional form them to fit your needs. Provide plenty of examples. Going 3. A formal argumentative essay back to the question, you are asked to consider the differences 4. Use of quotes in MLA format to support ideas. in the societies in terms of society, politics, ethics, freedom, 5. A Works Consulted or Works Cited, and possession. Which society does a better job of formatted in MLA (see Research providing for its people, given these elements? For purposes Guidebook). of narrowing your topic, choose two or three elements to explore 6. Edited Draft with two signatures 7. Revised Draft with two signatures 8. Final Copy, Manuscript Form: due___________________ thoroughly. In addition, consider the relations of each society to the ethical/social philosophies of the founding fathers of America, such as Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, the Puritans, and the Social Darwinists. I. Introduce what “they say” (the other side). II. Summarize effectively what the “other people” say. (III. Reminds you to use Quotations, throughout.) IV. “I say” - offer your argument. V. “And yet . . . .” Distinguishing what you say from what they say. VI. Providing the Skeptic’s Point of View VII. So What? Who Cares? Format: Follow these guidelines to set up your paper. Introduction I. Introduce what “they say” (the other side). (Often an introduction includes an illustrative quotation, a revealing fact or statistic, or an anecdote. Rather than choosing one of these, try the templates below, or similar wording.) See the following templates. • It is often said that . . . . • You would think that . . . . • My whole life I have heard that . . . . • Although X does not say so directly, she apparently assumes that . . . . Furthermore, throughout your writing, continue to the other opinion often, to keep your writing lively. Here is an example of such a “return” sentence: • In conclusion then, as I have suggested earlier, defenders of _________ can’t have it both ways. Their assertion that _______________ is contradicted by their claim that __________________. “Return” sentences ensure that your writing is focused and urgent throughout. Statement of the Case II. Summarize effectively what the “other people” say. You must try to “put yourself into the other person’s shoes” to write an effective summary. At the same time, don’t forget where you are going with your own point. • She demonstrates that . . . . • In fact, they celebrate the fact that . . . . Use vivid and precise signal verbs in your summaries. Verbs for making a claim Verbs for Verbs for questioning or Verbs for making argue expressing disagreeing recommendations assert agreement complain advocate believe acknowledge complicate call for claim admire contend demand emphasize agree contradict encourage insist celebrate the fact deny exhort observe that deplore the tendency to implore remind us corroborate disavow plead report do not deny question recommend suggest endorse refute urge extol reject warn praise renounce reaffirm repudiate support III. Use quotations to support relevant points. While a quotation can be a powerful way to demonstrate the ideas in a point of view, too often people let the quotation “speak for itself” rather than explaining them and showing their relevance to your ideas. A “frame” needs to be built around quotations to tie them in effectively. This frame may be thought of as a “quotation sandwich,” with an introductory statement preceding the quote and an explanatory sentence following it. Thus, introduce quotations with words such as these: • As the prominent author X puts it, “________.” • X agrees when she writes, “_____________.” • According to X, “________________.” Next, explain quotations in words similar to these: • Basically, X is saying __________. • In other words, X believes ___________. • In making this comment, X argues that ______________. It is most important to explain explicitly what the quotation means. The bottom half of the sandwich is essential! Proposition IV. “I say” - offer your argument. Statement It is best to begin your response by stating clearly whether you agree, disagree, or both. If you disagree, you must then provide persuasive statements explaining why. Disagreeing templates: • I think X is mistaken because she overlooks _____________. • By focusing on __________, X overlooks the deeper problem of _______________. • X contradicts herself/can’t have it two ways. On the one hand, she argues __________. But, on the other hand, __________________. Agreeing templates: • I agree that ____________, because my experience confirms it. • X’s theory of _____________ is extremely useful because she sheds light on the difficult problem of _______________. • I agree that ______________, a point that needs emphasizing since so many people believe _______________. • If group X is right that ________________,as I think they are, then we need to reassess the popular assumption that ______________. Agree and disagree simultaneously: • Although I agree with X up to a point, I cannot accept his overall conclusion that ________. (This one is particularly good for disagreeing more.) • Although I disagree with much that X says, I fully endorse his final conclusion that ________. (This one emphasizes agreement.) • Though I concede that ____________, I still insist that __________________. • My feelings on the issue are mixed. I do support X’s position that _______________, but I find Y’s argument about __________and Z’s research on __________ to be equally persuasive. (This template presents an example of the “two minds” or “mixed feelings” pattern.) Refutation & V. “And yet . . . .” Distinguishing what you say from what they say. Confirmation Always make it clear which point of view you are discussing. Either identify yourself as “I,” or carefully provide third person assertions. Templates identifying your point of view as “I” • My own view, however, is that ___________ • I agree, as X may not realize, that _____________ Templates identifying your point of view with third person assertions: • The evidence shows that ___________ • Anyone familiar with _________ should agree that __________. • X’s assertion that _______________ does not fit the facts. Digression VI. Providing the Skeptic’s Point of View Anticipating objections to your opinions and answering them can be a very effective way to strengthen your assertions. This may be called “planting a naysayer.” • Of course, many will probably disagree with this assertion that ___________. • While some may object that ________________, in reality _____________. Often the best way to overcome an objection is not to try to refute it completely, but to agree with certain parts while challenging only those you dispute. Conclusion VII. So What? Who Cares? Why do any of your assertions matter? When you clearly answer the questions “so what” and “who cares,” you make clear the real-world applications and consequences of your claims. This clarification asks you to link your argument to some larger matter that readers already deem important. Thus, in analyzing Huckleberry Finn, a writer might argue that Jim’s relationship with Huck actually illuminates Twain’s view on racism in America. • These conclusions make clear the importance of _____________, which ____________ had not recognized. • However, who really cares? At the very least, this situation should be important to ___________, who __________________. • Politicians have long assumed _______________, while on closer inspection, ______________. • X matters / is important because _____________. • These conclusions / This discovery will have significant applications in ____________ as well as in _____________. • Although X may seem of concern to only a small group of ____________, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about ______________. VIII. Tying it Together Transitions: While transitions should not dominate your writing, they should connect the parts of your text and help construct a strong argument. Elaboration Conclusion Addition Example Cause and Effect Concession Contrast actually as a result also after all accordingly admittedly although by extension consequently and as an as a result although it is true but in short hence besides illustration consequently granted by contrast that is in conclusion furthermore for example hence naturally conversely in other words in addition for instance since of course despite the fact that in short to put it another indeed specifically so to be sure even though, in sum way in fact to take a then however herefore to put it bluntly moreover case in point therefore in contrast thus to put it so too thus nevertheless to sum up succinctly nonetheless on the contrary ultimately to summarize on the other hand regardless whereas while yet Repetition: Repeating key words and phrases will have the result of tying your ideas together. These may be repeated with variation (for example, instead of saying “letter,” say “correspondence”). See the Sample Persuasive Outline in your Grammar & Composition packets. Below is a variation of that outline which you may use. Title Thesis Statement I. Introduction A. Lead 1. 2. B. Statement of the Case 1. 2. C. Proposition Statement - thesis II. Confirmation, first example A. Refutation - 1st Idea that is incorrect B. Counter-argument C. Explanation D. Support for Confirmation: Introduce quotation (or example): Put the quotation into context. 1. Quotation (or example) 2. Analyze: Explain to the reader the importance of the quotation and how it supports your topic sentence. 3. Transition sentence: from first example to next example 4. Quotation (or example) 5. Analyze – analyze your second piece of evidence 6. Transition sentence: from second example to third example 7. Quotation (or example) 8. Analyze – analyze your third piece of evidence E. Summary: Tie together points made in paragraph: advance your argument III. Confirmation, second example A. Refutation - 1st Idea that is incorrect B. Counter-argument C. Explanation D. Support for Confirmation: Introduce quotation (or example): Put the quotation into context. 1. Quotation (or example) 2. Analyze: Explain to the reader the importance of the quotation and how it supports your topic sentence. 3. Transition sentence: from first example to next example 4. Quotation (or example) 5. Analyze – analyze your second piece of evidence 6. Transition sentence: from second example to third example 7. Quotation (or example) 8. Analyze – analyze your third piece of evidence E. Summary: Tie together points made in paragraph: advance your argument IV. Confirmation, third example A. Refutation - 1st Idea that is incorrect B. Counter-argument C. Explanation D. Support for Confirmation: Introduce quotation (or example): Put the quotation into context. 1. Quotation (or example) 2. Analyze: Explain to the reader the importance of the quotation and how it supports your topic sentence. 3. Transition sentence: from first example to next example 4. Quotation (or example) 5. Analyze – analyze your second piece of evidence 6. Transition sentence: from second example to third example 7. Quotation (or example) 8. Analyze – analyze your third piece of evidence E. Summary: Tie together points made in paragraph: advance your argument V. Digression A. Appealing anecdote B. Example C. Summary VI. Conclusion A. Restatement of thesis B. Importance C. So what - Clincher See the following example of a confirmation paragraph initiated by a contrasting statement which is then refuted. Words in bold indicate strong verbs chosen from the list above; words italicized emphasize use of template argumentative language. Certainly, Shevek and his fellows on Anarres wholeheartedly endorse their society for its freedom, respect for the individual, and intrinsic moral nature. . Shevek observes of his independence as an Odonian, “It’s . . . our common nature to be Odonians, responsible to each other. And that responsibility is our freedom” (45). However, under the terms of the Settlement which became a guide for conduct on Anarres, no one could travel to Anarres, and no one could leave. “. . . the wall enclosed a barren sixty-acre field called the Port of Anarres. . . . It was in fact a quarantine. The wall shut in not only the landing field but also the ships that came down out of space, and the men that came on the ships. . . leaving Anarres outside, free” (2). While the settlers may have meant their society to remain uncontaminated by outside influence, and thus free to flourish, in reality, the restrictions on travel or communication in effect denied the people of Anarres the right to think for themselves. The wall that denied outside influence to the barren planet repudiated any real growth for the people of Anarres. Rulag spoke clearly for many on Anarres: “Our hope lies, it has lain for a hundred and seventy years, in the Terms of the Settlement: No Urrasti off the ships, except the Settlers, then, or ever” (356). By barring communication with Urras, the Anarresti hoped to maintain their society’s safety. Yet the same bars that kept them safe also kept the settlers isolated and unable to change. In conclusion then, defenders of the freedoms established by the Odonian society can’t have it both ways. Their assertion that Anarres is a free society, a government with minimal controls ensuring that the individual develops to the best of his or her potential, is contradicted by their society’s claim that controls such as the PDC, while not specific governmental entities, still follow popular opinion in preventing any travel or exchange of ideas between the worlds.
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