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Leading Discussions and Argument Analysis

This assignment asks you to find arguments out in the world and to bring them to class for our consideration. As we learn about a variety of argumentative tactics, each of you will search in newspapers, magazines, advertisements, reviews, and alternative "texts" that demonstrate those tactics. For instance, when we are studying arguments "from the heart," students will find writing by authors who are trying to persuade by appealing to the emotions of the audience. Or when we are studying arguments "based on character," we’ll want to see writing by authors who are trying to convince the audience that they are trustworthy or are experts. In this way, you will all help us to see arguments from the "real world." Besides leading the discussion, you will hand in a one-page, informal analysis of the writing.

Rather than giving a formal presentation, you will simply lead a class discussion on the material you have chosen. You will be responsible for bringing a copy of the "text" for each of us the class meeting before you lead discussion. This will be our homework. When choosing a text, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Try to choose short texts, no more than a couple of pages. Feel free to use "visual texts" such as images and websites (you may wish to consult ch. 5 in RC, "visual arguments"). Or you could bring in the lyrics to a song that makes a particular argument (if you do this, make arrangements to bring a tape/CD player to class so we can hear it as we read the lyrics). I will bring a signup sheet the second week of class. I recommend that you start looking for writing or "texts" that correspond to sections of our textbook (EA) in advance. Here are a few suggestions for you to explore:

These are all available on the Internet. Whenever possible you should try to choose readings that relate to your paper topic and our current class topic.

You will be given a great deal of freedom in how you go about leading the discussion. You might think of questions you want the class to consider. You may want to present your own reading of the text for the class to respond to. You can focus on particular passages. You may put the class into small groups to work with a particular focus. Please feel free to meet with me beforehand to ask questions or get suggestions.

Your written analysis should be informal but thoughtful. In it, you should address the following questions:

The written analysis is due the day that you lead the discussion. When I am evaluating your work on this assignment, I will take into consideration the work you have put into answering these questions and into leading the class discussion.

Please see me with any questions, comments or suggestions