Writing 122- Cora Agatucci
English Composition [Argumentation & Critical Reading-Response]

Essay #1: Analysis-Evaluation of an AofA Argument
URL of this webpage:

See also Example Student Analysis-Evaluation Essays #1 (online handout):
URL: http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/wr122/handouts/essays1.htm

Directions for Essay #1 (Analysis-Evaluation)
Worth:  15% of course grade
See WR 122 Syllabus Course Grading for Late policy & Revision Option
WR 122 Course Plan for deadlines  

1.  TOPIC CHOICE: The subject of your Essay #1 Analysis-Evaluation will be one AofA argument from our WR 122 textbook.  You have some choice of which AofA argument you will analyze-evaluate for Essay #1 (listed below) but also note well the exclusions (also listed below):


One argument selected from AofA Ch. 12 (Marriage and Family); but . . .
Exclusion (a) you may NOT choose the cartoon included in Ch. 12;


One argument selected from AofA Ch. 17 (The Twenty-First Century); but . . .
(a) you may NOT choose the cartoon included in Ch. 17;


One argument from AofA Ch.13 (Gay and Lesbian Rights), but . . .
Exclusions (a) you may NOT choose the cartoon included in Ch. 13; and . . .
(b) Do NOT choose Nickel or Gomes UNLESS your analysis-evaluation is going to be
significantly different from the points about Nickel and Gomes made in 
Example Student Essays #1



Amber Young's argument, "Capital Punishment: Society's Self-Defense" (31-36) from Ch. 3.

To help you choose an AofA argument for Essay #1 . . . 
(a)  "Self-Analysis"
Preparation Ex. (Prior Knowledge, Pre-Existing Biases, Rhetorical Context & Targeted Audience) - see Course Plan for deadline
This exercise is intended to help you determine whether you will be able to be a fair-minded and objectively "critical" reader in analyzing and evaluating the AofA argument;
(b)  Recommended:  (Re)read the AofA argument(s) that you are considering for your choice, review Methods of Analysis (handout), and ask yourself:
Do I understand this argument well enough, and will I be able to analyze and evaluate it?

3.  MANUSCRIPT FORM (ms):  See the WR 122 Syllabus on Manuscript Form, including MLA-style heading (for the first page of your Essay) and running page headers (for 2nd and subsequent pages of your Essay).  Final Draft of Essay #1 must be typed/wordprocessed and double spaced on standard-sized white paper, using standard, readable font and point size, printed in black ink, with standard margins (1” at top, bottom, and sides), etc. 

4.  SUGGESTED LENGTH for the Final Draft of Essay #1 is 3-to-5 typed/wordprocessed and double-spaced pages.

5.  CITE YOUR SOURCE(S) & Avoid Plagiarism: (see general guidelines given in WR 122 Syllabus):  

a.  Academic review essays typically present the full bibliographical entry for the source being analyzed and evaluated at the beginning of the essay, and we will follow the same convention for Essay #1.  Thus, you must create an MLA (Works Cited) style bibliographical entry for your selected AofA Ch. argument.  You will NOT need to create a separate Works Cited list at the end of your essay unless you decide to cite other sources in Essay #1 (see Cora if you have questions.) See also Methods of Analysis (d) Careful Notetaking.

b.  “In-text” Parenthetical Citations of Your Source:  Since Essay #1 requires you to deal with only one source (i.e. one AofA argument), for which you will give a full MLA-style bibliographical entry at the beginning of your Essay#1 —we can simplify the task of documenting citations “in-text”—i.e. in the “text” of your Essay #1.  We will discuss distinctions among summary, quotation, and paraphrase further in class.  See also Methods of Analysis (d) Careful Notetaking.
Use timely author tags to introduce in-text citations, accurate & correctly punctuated quotations, faithful paraphrases and summaries that do not distort the meaning of the original, parenthetical page citations for quotations and paraphrases—all work together to avoid plagiarism & allow readers to trace citations clearly back to the original AofA argument.  You will also need to use ellipses, brackets, block long quotations when required, and cite any additional/outside sources if relevant.


A.  Heading, Title, Bibliographical Entry


Give an MLA-style Heading at the top of page 1 of your Essay #1


Give your Essay #1 a title that reflects the issue and your essay thesis.


Give a full bibliographical entry in MLA Works Cited Style


Crista Harrison

WR 122, Dr. Agatucci

Analysis Evaluation Essay #1

19 February 2001

The Hypocrisy of Misinterpretation

Gomes, Peter J.  "Homophobic?  Reread Your Bible."  New York Times 17 Aug. 1992.  Rpt. The Aims of Argument: A Rhetoric and Reader.  Eds. Timothy W. Crucius and Carolyn E. Channell.  3rd ed.  Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2000.  516-518.

In the last decade, American society has erupted with controversy over . . . .

B.  In your Introduction:


Formally re-introduce the title, author, relevant information about the rhetorical context of the AofA argument to be discussed. 


Identify the issue being addressed by the AofA argument


Summarize AofA author’s major claims and purposes. 


Present your thesis/claim (see below)


Optional:  Preview the main supporting points (your reasons/criteria) that you will develop in the body of your essay to support your thesis/claim.  (See Special Requirements for Essay #1: you must identify and develop at least one strength and one weakness!).  If you do choose to preview, be sure to list your supporting points in the introduction in the same order that you will address them in the body of your essay.

B  Your THESIS CLAIM for Essay #1 should respond to the following central questions: 

Is this AofA argument worth reading?  That is, would you recommend that others read it?  Why and/or why not? 

Arrive at your thesis/claim, shape your essay purpose, and determine key supporting reason(s) why you do or do not recommend that others read this AofA argument, use one or more of the following focusing questions:

1.  Does this argument present an effective case to achieve the author’s purpose with a diverse audience?—that is, not just with you and a like-minded community of readers, but with a wider diverse audience that might include both Wr 122 readers (remember, we are a diverse lot!), as well as readers of the argument in its original rhetorical/publication context.  Why and/or why not?

2.  Does this argument make a worthwhile contribution to the ongoing public debate, being carried on in many forums, about the issue addressed?  (The general introduction to the chapter in which your selected argument appears can help you with this one.)  Why and/or why not?

3.  Does this argument offer useful lessons (positive and/or negative) for students of argument writing like all of us in Wr 122?  Why and/or why not?

Your responses to the above central and supporting questions should help you not only to formulate your essay thesis, but also to identify your reasons—that is, the main supporting points and evaluation criteria on which you are basing your reasoned (thesis) opinion.  Essay #1 requires evaluation, as well as analysis, based on explicit and persuasive reasons / evaluation criteria for judging the AofA argument in question.

Special Requirements for Essay #1

The GENRE in which you are writing is still an ESSAY controlled by a your own central thesis claim  (i.e. your overall recommendation/evaluation of the selected AofA argument).  Remember and apply what you have already learned about what a good essay should be and do (e.g., from Writing 121, essay composition principles like unity, organization, coherence, development, title-intro-body-conclusion, style, grammatical correctness).  For example, plan to devote one well-developed body paragraph to each of your main supporting points; order your presentation in an arrangement that seems most logical, coherent, and effective; provide timely thesis transitions that remind you and your readers how each body paragraph supports or relates to your thesis, etc.  Still you will be asked to expand and develop your WR 122 essay writing skills in Essay #1 by meeting some special requirements for analyzing and evaluating arguments.

1.    Apply the Methods of Analysis that we have been studying:  Use careful analysis and assessment of the AofA argument to help you shape your thesis, identify your supporting reasons/evaluation criteria, and develop these supporting points in the body of your essay.  You need not use every single argumentative method and writing strategy introduced in AofA, the Methods of Analysis handout, or discussed in class, but you will be expected to apply those most relevant to the AofA argument that you are analyzing and evaluating.  

2.  Your Bias Statement and Its Impact.  Your own bias (pro, con, or neutral) or position on the issue being argued in the selected AofA argument must be stated explicitly somewhere in your essay.  Place your bias statement where it seems to be most effective in, or least damaging to, achieving your thesis/purpose in Essay #1.  Also consider the self-presentation of your own Character/Ethos in Essay #1 (See Ch. 6).

3.  Body Points must identify and develop at least one Strength(s) and at least one Weakness(es) of the AofA Argument.  Adhering to this requirement that you discuss at least one strength and at least one weakness of the AofA argument, will help you position yourself to be considered a fair-minded inquirer, critical reader and trust-worthy evaluator (see also “Bias Statement and its Impact” above) whatever your bias on the issue.  But this requirement also presents challenges.
Unify your Essay Without Oversimplifying or Falsifying the Case.  The principle of essay unity requires that everything in the essay body should support your thesis/claim and contribute to achieving your persuasive purpose in Essay #1.  At the college level, however, you need to learn how to address complex readings and issues, and arrive at fair, well-reasoned opinions without oversimplifying or falsifying the case, or ignoring parts that challenge your views.  Since you must discuss at least one strength and at least one weakness (see above) , you will need to qualify an overall positive or negative evaluation stated in your thesis/claim and use the argumentative strategies of concession and/or reconciliation.  Or you may advance a mixed evaluation of the AofA argument in your thesis claim —(e.g., yes, it meets some of your evaluation criteria, but no, it doesn’t meet others)—which should be clearly and cogently demonstrated in the body of your Essay #1.

More Advice:

Support and Demonstrate your Points: Support your Essay #1 Thesis/Claim and develop your analysis evaluation of the selected AofA argument with good and relevant supporting points.  Valid and persuasive reasons and evaluation criteria should be identified, applied, and demonstrated in the body of your essay.  And you must demonstrate that each of your supporting reasons/evaluation criteria is good and relevant, by offering persuasive explanation and reasoning, and by citing and analyzing well-selected specific examples from the AofA argument to illustrate and support your points.  Do not assume that your points are self-evident, and that all readers will automatically understand and share your views.  Citations may take the form of summary, paraphrase or direct quotation.  Quote only as much as you need to illustrate your point, and always accompany quotations with your interpretation and analysis.  Do not assume all your readers are going to read, interpret, place emphasis, and/or respond to a cited quotation or passage from the argument in the same way that you do: you bear the burden of showing, explaining, reasoning, and convincing.  And, at the college level, even like-minded critical readers who agree with your points will expect you to support and demonstrate them.

Examine your Assumptions about Your Points and Your Audience:  Would a serious, diverse audience of WR 122 critical readers and thinkers be likely to accept your thesis/claim evaluation of the AofA essay?  Would that audience be likely to share and accept each of your reasons and evaluation criteria as “good” and “relevant” (see Ch. 3) to your central thesis/claim and to the AofA argument being analyzed/evaluated?  These reasons and evaluation criteria constitute a set of supporting claims that should persuasively back up your overall thesis/claim.  If any of your criteria (supporting claims) is likely not be shared (i.e. recognized as “good” and “relevant” by your readers), you may need to explicitly argue why one or more your reasons/evaluation criteria is valid in this case. 

Anticipate and Respond to Likely/Worthy Opposition.  Your Essay #1 is itself a kind of argument (i.e. evaluation), and--like all other arguments on debatable opinions--you should plan to anticipate and try to answer as effectively as you can any likely and weighty opposition to your views (e.g., to your central thesis/claim, to your supporting points, to your interpretation/analysis of complex or controversial parts of the AofA argument under discussion, etc.).

1.      Where to do it: Addressing the anticipated opposition may be integrated when the controversial point is raised, or presented in a separate section of the body of your essay.  Choose the organizational arrangement that seems most effective to you, remembering that it is usually not effective to give the opposition the last word/ending position in an essay or a body paragraph.

2.      Use the Workshop to help you analyze your audience and anticipate/imagine where such opposition may lie, and discuss with workshop members how you could best respond to their actual or imagined objections, questions, and/or concerns.

3.      How you treat the opposition can have a big impact on the readers’ assessment of your ethos (character, credibility, honestly, fairness, well-informed acquaintance with the issue and the argument, etc.: see AofA Chs. 1, 6), and thus on the success of your Essay #1 in supporting your thesis and achieving your purpose. 
Ignoring, dismissing, trivializing, or disrespecting the opposition usually will not help you make your case in an argument, especially when you are addressing a diverse college-level audience of critical readers and thinkers, as you are to do in this assignment.

Grading Criteria & Evaluation Checklist

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You are here:  Essay #1 (Analysis-Evaluation) Directions~ Winter 2002
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Last updated: 04 November 2005

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Humanities Department, Central Oregon Community College
I welcome comments: cagatucci@cocc.edu
Cora Agatucci, 1997-2002
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