English Composition II
Prof. Eileen Joy
Arguments of Definition
typed, double-spaced pages (minimum), MLA-style citation
1 & 2. Conjoined Fetus Lady and Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld
this essay, you are going to practice your hand at an argument of definition
["what is the nature of a thing?"--see Chapter 8, "Arguments of Definition"
in Everything's An Argument]. First, choose one of the following
Park Option: choose one episode of South Park that
has been found by others to be "offensive," "tasteless," "vulgar," "obscene,"
"bigoted," "inappropriate," "crude," "irresponsible" [or
any other term that implies a negative value judgment upon the show's content].
Write an essay in which you agree or disagree with the negative assessment
of the episode in question. You will have to consider the term or terms
being applied [i.e., "vulgar" or "tasteless" or "offensive," etc.
and/or any combination thereof] and spend some time explaining in detail
what you [and others] believe that term means and why it is or is not relevant
to the episode in question. As regards a possible outline for this option,
you might consider this: a) summarize the episode in question; b) outline,
objectively, the negative reaction(s) to this episode; and c) explain your
position. As a starting resource for this option, see Wikipedia's online
guide to all the episodes of South
Also, it is possible to access online videos of particular South Park episodes
here, here, and here.
Tipping Point Option: tackle
the question, "what is the definition of 'cool' to older teenagers and
twenty-somethings [persons such as yourselves]? How, further, is "being
cool" conveyed, through material possessions, attitudes, etc.? Finally,
why and how does "being cool" matter [or not]? This is really a set of
questions related to "cool" as an aesthetic [a mode of presenting oneself
to others, through possessions, clothing, behaviors, etc.--on this point,
see the Wikipedia entry on "cool" as an "aesthetic" here]. You will want
to accomplish two primary objectives with this essay: explain what seems
to be the general consensus about what "cool" is and how you yourself define
and understand and ultimately value [or don't value] the term [or "state
of being"]. You will want to consider Chapters 6 & 7 in Gladwell's book
as a good starting point, and you should also spend some time talking to
other students here at SIUE, who can serve as your "some people think"
resource base [and who also will count, collectively, as one external source].
You should also consider the historical perspective offered in Donnell
Like Me." Another possible source for this paper would be the PBS documentary The Merchants of Cool [and please consider not only the film itself but also the interviews and other documents on the website as possible sources for this option.] A possible outline for this might be: a) explain how
others [Gladwell, SIUE students, other commentators] define and explain
"cool"; b) explain how you yourself define the term/concept and why you
do or do not value it. You might consider narrowing the topic by choosing to focus on one particular aspect or product of "cool" [such as clothing or something like iPods or Sketcher shoes or even a show like Jackass or a performer like Justin Timberlake or Ludakris], and then connect your inquiry into and analysis of that to the broader philosophical question of why "cool" or "being cool" may or may not be something to be valued.
you choose, you will need to have a total of 4-5 outside sources [we will
talk more about this in class]. It is very important
that you read up, again, on paraphrasing and using quotation:
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.