ENG102.032 − English Composition II

Prof. Eileen Joy

Spring 2007

ESSAY #2: Values-Based Argument

DUE: Thursday, March 22nd

FORMAT: 4 typed, double-spaced pages (minimum), MLA-style citation

Figure 1. Timothy Treadwell in Alaska (from Grizzly Man film)

For this assignment, you are going to write a values-based argument [see Chapter 5 in Everything's An Argument] that is a direct response to one of the following statements [you may respond as you see fit, either agreeing or disagreeing with the statement you choose, or using it as a point of departure for a slightly different argument, as long as you write an argument that is based on values, but which also is supported by various types of evidence--your own experience, other persons' viewpoints, facts, logic, etc.]:

By way of helping you think about an overall structure for your paper, I suggest the following outline:

  1. First, begin by providing a summary of the background to the statement you are using as your jumping-off point. So, if you are going to respond to a statement that is taken from Grizzly Man, you will want to provide some background information on the film and on Timothy Treadwell's story in order to make clear the larger context in which that statement was made. If you respond to one of Barry Lopez's, Michael Pollan's, or Peter Singer's statements, you will want to summarize the larger argument in which that statement is situated.
  2. Second, explain briefly to your reader what position you are going to take as regards the statement you have chosen to respond to, and why [in brief, since you will be elaborating on this in more detail as your essay develops]. Keep in mind that you are confronted with a values-based statement, and that your argument will be based on values that you hold or believe in. Therefore, do not make the mistake of arguing from fact--in other words, you should not set out to disprove one of the above statements by claiming you can show it isn't true at all in any situation. In an argument based on values, logic and certain kinds of evidence will definitely be crucial [so, facts will play some part], but the key is to make a case for a certain set of beliefs or core principles or ways of looking at the world [which is different than arguing something is factually true]. Arguments based on value are often aimed at persuading someone, through reason and evidence, to look at the deeper meaning of something, and "deeper meanings" are always contestable. They can never be 100% verifiable or "proven"--they can only be more or less persuasive, more or less appealing.
  3. Third, build paragraphs [4-5] around specific claims that you believe support your argument, and for each of these claims, provide supporting evidence in the form of logical reasoning, facts, your own experience and/or the experience of others, history [things that have actually happened], and the knowledge of experts [what others have written or said or done].
  4. Share any objections that you think reasonable people might have with your argument, and answer those possible objections as best you can.
  5. Conclude by summing up [without repeating what you have already stated] why you think your argument is a persuasive one. This is usually a good place to incorporate something from a source or your own experience [or both] that you have not yet used, in order to make a fresh statement on the subject that still emphasizes the main argument you want to make.

You are required to incorporate into your essay at least THREE [but more is fine] sources outside of your own thinking: 1) the source from which your initial starting statement is taken [Grizzly Man, or one of the essays by Lopez, Pollan, and Singer]; 2) at least one of the other readings assigned on the syllabus and/or the film [the idea here is to make connections between at least two of the sources discussed in class; and 3) an article from a newspaper or magazine that you have located through either Academic Search Premier or Lexis-Nexis [go here for Lovejoy Library's Online Resources page]. Possible subject search terms might include [remember to always enclose your search phrase within quotation marks, unless it is a single word]:

It is very important that you read up on paraphrasing and using quotation in an esay like this: look at Chapter 2 [pp. 65-116] in Writing from Sources. Tips on MLA-style citation can be found in Chapter 22 [pp. 424-53] in Everything's An Argument and in Chapter 5 [pp. 241-73] in The Bedford Researcher.