ESSAY 2: THE EVALUATION ARGUMENT /
ARGUING THE VALUE OF ONE THING IN TODAY’S POPULAR CULTURE
POINTS: This essay is worth 100 points, 10% of your final grade for the course.
FORMAT: Your essay must be in MLA format. If any substantial deviations from MLA exist (or if there is an excessive amount of incomplete sentences, misspellings, or other errors that make grading your work difficult or show an obvious lack of effort on your part), then you will be asked to re-write the paper (and will lose points for turning the paper in late) before it is accepted.
LENGTH: Final draft minimum of 2 1/2 pages (maximum 5). The final page of your essay should be your works cited page, which does not count towards your minimum page requirement. Be careful to write concisely and avoid padded (unnecessary and repetitive) language.
SOURCES: Your essay should have at least 3 sources listed in the works cited page and noted in the text with in-text citation parentheticals. These sources must be credible. You should use a variety of sources (at least 2 different types), such as internet sources (from sites that end in .org or .edu or can otherwise be shown to be reputable); personal interviews; film or audio sources (iTunes U lectures or documentaries, as examples); books; magazines; newspapers; online database or journal articles; or other sources that work with the tone and style of your argument.
You must use direct quotations in your essay. One component of the rubric will award points based on the balance of direct quotations, paraphrased source information, and your own voice. You can cite sources with the text in your sentence, but at least some of the citations must be written as in-text citation parentheticals.
Remember that just listing web addresses for the sites you used does NOT count as documenting sources and will cause you to get a zero on your paper; sources must be listed in MLA style. The last page of your essay must be an 8th edition MLA style works cited page (and remember that isn’t part of the page count).
Write an evaluation argument essay that assesses whether something in today’s popular culture is either good/bad, strong/weak, beneficial/harmful, etc. Your essay should contain the basic elements of argumentative writing, including a clear claim, good reasons, evidence that supports your claim and appeals to the reader, and an acknowledgement of counterargument. Your sources should be integrated with your own language and be used to support your own original thoughts and ideas. You should also use clear, specific criteria as the basis for your evaluation.
The purpose of the assignment is to argue your claim about some aspect of popular culture and the value it has or doesn’t have in our society. Answer the basic question: What good is this? Once you formulate a basic claim, go beyond offering an opinion and use your argument to reveal the intricacies of the issue. To do this, you should research the topic, understand the rhetorical situation, assert and support a way of seeing, and discuss and refute the counterargument. Go beyond evaluating your topic as good or bad and show how something is harmful or helpful to people.
Don’t get too stuck on the idea of “popular culture” – while this can refer to things like technology, music, art, entertainment, fashion, etc., it can also refer to a broad range of other things that are all around us in society today. Use the discussion board to help explore more about what “pop culture” means with your peers. Issues related to contemporary politics, beliefs, social standards, race and gender identification, policies in place on the education system or government or workforce can all be part of popular culture too if we don’t define it too narrowly.
Be sure that your claim is revelatory and not flat or expected. You need to argue and persuade, not just state the common opinions held by the majority of your audience. It may be helpful to think of what most people agree about that you disagree with so that you can build your case from there. Go beyond the obvious and look at the complex issues that are involved with your claim. Be clear about whether you are arguing for or against the topic and don’t waver between both positions.
Use the chapter information and the Guide for Writing Arguments of Evaluation in Chapter 10 of your textbook for more ideas and help.
Start your work early to be sure that you will have time to revise, edit, and proofread. Think creatively and use the chapter to guide your writing but not to dictate your sentence structure or ideas. Choose a topic you believe in, and persuade your readers to value it the way you believe it should be valued (or de-valued).
The off-limits topics for this essay are social media, smart phones, and “technology.” You can write about a specific piece or type of technology; but do not use the word “technology” as the primary focus of what you are evaluating because that word encompasses way more than just smart phones or the internet or computers and is too often used incorrectly. In other words, “technology” refers to many different things from hospital equipment and car engines to aeronautical advancements and such; so use specific language to discuss your topic. Anyway, your paper will be better if you think outside the box and don’t just grab the obvious topics; so unless you feel you have something fresh to offer on the pros or cons of a specific type of technology, you may want to think of something else.
Finally, be sure the topic you choose is NARROW and FOCUSED! For example, it’s not possible to write a strong argument about something as broad as “music.” Instead, argue about a specific genre, artist, group of artists, or even a song or album (if you can think of a controversial one). Likewise, arguing about something like “fashion” is not possible in a few pages, while arguing about one specific fashion trend or a certain kind of fashion is possible. “Reality shows” is not a good topic because that includes everything from cooking contests and house hunting to shows like The Voice, Real Housewives…, etc., and lots in between. Picking one show or one specific type of show will help you be much more effective in your argument.