Purpose: Your argument of definition should include a formal definition, an operational definition, and a definition by example for one of the following terms:
● satisfying work (as in “Be sure to find a job that requires satisfying work”),
● good job (as in “I just want to get a good job”),
● inspiring teacher (as in “I was lucky to be taught by an inspiring teacher”), or
● great class (as in “You should really take Intro to Poli Sci as it’s a great class”).
You may pick a term of your own as long as it relates to school and/or work. Use two readings from chapters four and/or five of Acting out Culture as support, and don’t forget a) in-text citations and b) a Works Cited page.
I. Formal Definitions
A. Give its genus, the class to which it belongs
1. EXAMPLE: A hybrid car is a passenger vehicle . . .
2. EXAMPLE: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment . . .
B. Give its species, the traits that distinguish it from others in its class
1. EXAMPLE: . . . that uses two or more sources of power, either separately or in combination.
2. EXAMPLE: . . . when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
II. Operational Definitions
A. Tell what conditions must exist in order to fit definition.
1. EXAMPLE: Cheerleading is a sport because it is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
2. Example: Graffiti is vandalism because it is deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property that diminishes the property’s value.
B. Tell what requirements must be satisfied in order to fulfill its conditions.
1. EXAMPLE: The laundry is not complete until it is folded and put away.
2. EXAMPLE: A person has a disability when a physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activity; when a person has a record of such an impairment, even if he/she does not currently have a disability; or when he/she does not have a disability but is regarded as having one.
III. Definition by Example
A. Give examples that belong to your term’s category.
1. EXAMPLE: An idiom is a commonly used expression whose meaning does not relate to the literal meaning of its words, like It’s raining cats and dogs, Let’s paint the town red, or He kicked the bucket.
2. EXAMPLE: IKEA gives its sofas interesting Swedish names like Kivik, Ektorp, Nockeby, Stocksund, and Poäng.
B. Give examples that do NOT belong to your term’s category
1. EXAMPLE: Champagne is sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France, unlike other sparkling wines such as the Italian Brachetto, Australian sparkling Shiraz, and Azerbaijani “Pearl of Azerbaijan” which is made from Madrasa grapes.
2. EXAMPLE: Our athletes only use legal wrestling moves–for example, no biting, pinching, gouging, strangling, suffocating, or spiking (lifting and slamming the opponent head-first to the mat).
A. Remember, you’re defining one of the following: satisfying work, good job, inspiring teacher, or great class (or one of your own, provided it relates to AoC chapters 4 and/or 5 and has my approval). Stick to the term and define it thoroughly.
B. Your definition must be arguable. You’re writing about what you think your chosen term is. You’re offering your personal definition; others might disagree, but you’re arguing for your definition.
C. Avoid defining something only as “good” or “bad.” That’s an evaluation and not necessarily a definition. Something can be good or bad, but that shouldn’t be the only argument. For example, “Sweatshop labor is slavery” is more descriptive than “Sweatshop labor is bad.” People already know that sweatshops are bad, so if you can convince people that sweatshop labor is slavery, you’ve made an important point and people will hopefully disapprove of sweatshop labor just as they disapprove of slavery.
D. Identify the ways in which the accepted definition or category ascribed to a term is lacking or doesn’t hold up to critical inquiry. What’s at stake? Why should people care about the definition at all? What are the consequences of people’s misunderstanding?
E. Provide evidence for the different parts of your definition. For example, if you are making a comparison, explain how your comparison is valid.
F. Identify modifications to the definition that will help the readers define or categorize the term in a way that is more useful.
1. List the accepted characteristics or definition of the terms and categories you are exploring–explore accepted dictionary definitions, people’s assumptions about the definitions, definitions in our books about the topic
2. Identify what’s missing from the definitions. What does the accepted definition exclude? Use logic and evidence to explain why what is excluded should be included.
a. EXAMPLE: Cheerleading isn’t often thought of as a sport, but similar activities such as rhythmic gymnastics have Olympic events, so cheerleading should be considered a sport.
b. EXAMPLE: Egg rolls are usually considered Chinese food, but since they were made in New York in the early 1930s, they should be considered American.
Audience: Your initial audience is the teacher and classmates.
Length: Minimum 1250 words.
Stance: This assignment is thesis driven. The best papers will have a clear argument/reading of the text supported with evidence from the text.
Thesis: I recommend a claim that a) mentions a common definition of your term but then b) redefines the term according to your ideas: “While many people understand homework in high school to be skill-building, college-preparatory review of much-needed academic concepts, I believe that homework is ineffective, stress-inducing busy work that encourages cheating.”
Citations: Make sure you cite two different readings from chapters 4 and/or 5 of Acting out Culture. See #9 on pages 473 and 474 of Everything’s an Argument.
For example, here’s how a citation for “Blue-Collar Brilliance” and “The Case for Working with Your Hands” would appear on your Works Cited page:
Crawford, Matthew B. “The Case for Working with Your Hands.” Acting out Culture: Readings for Critical Inquiry, 4th edition, edited by James S. Miller, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018, pp. 333-343.
Rose, Mike. “Blue-Collar Brilliance.” Acting out Culture: Readings for Critical Inquiry, 4th edition, edited by James S. Miller, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018, pp. 394-399.
In-text citations use the author’s last name and page number for the quote, paraphrase or summary. Thus, they would look like this:
Nothing beats not only fixing a motorcycle but also hearing a satisfied customer’s “salute in the exuberant ‘bwaaAAAAP!’ of a crisp throttle, gratuitously revved” (Crawford 336).
Unfortunately, we live in a world that “separates the body from the mind [and assumes] that the use of a tool does not involve abstraction” (Rose 397).