Argumentative Paper

For this assignment you will need to produce a focused argumentative paper. Your topic is your

choice, but it should be related to one or more of the major themes of the course and you should

support your paper with readings of our course books and any needed supplementary research.

(Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

The Iliad of Homer, trans. Richmond Lattimore The Sundiata, trans. D. T. Niane

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life


Most of all I am look for effective and compelling arguments, with a passionate and engaged point of

view. But I know that such a directive can seem rather vague, so here are some qualities of effective


A clearly argued idea with an effective use of close readings. Readings should not only support your

main idea with evidence, but should serve to develop it and give it richness and complexity.

A clear sense of structure. You need to guide your reader through your argument, and in order for

them to follow you they need to be able to clearly understand where you begin and anticipate where

you are going.

An understanding of context and audience.

A strong personal engagement with the materials and ideas that form the content of the paper. If you

are bored, your reader will be as well.

Many of these things are very difficult to accomplish in writing, so do not expect your first draft to

have any of them. First you need to think through the material and your ideas, producing a big mess

of writing, and then sort through that for clarity and structure. So please revise! Revision is perhaps

the most essential part of an effective argumentative paper. It helps you give shape to your ideas.


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