Position Paper – we should buy organic food
The Assignment: You will write an 8-10 (no more than 12) page position paper plus a Works Cited page featuring at least twenty sources.
Purpose: You have been working toward this paper all semester, gathering research throughout the term and considering (and re-considering) your position as well as others. Your work in this essay is to take a position within the debate that you’ve developed as you’ve worked through each major assignment (the Inquiry assignment, the Rhetorical Analysis, and the Digital Forum).
The goal is to build on what you’ve learned and what you’ve argued to take a position within the conversation and make a new claim within your issue. This argumentative essay will be the place where you can share the fruits of your research and argue for the ideas you have developed through your writing and research process.
Audience: You will identify an audience for this project. When you do, remember the genre of the essay: you are making an academic argument. However, this genre should not be seen as limiting. Academics are not the only people who read academic arguments, and academic arguments are often found in widely read publications. Thus, you should think of your audience as an interested group who expects to encounter a thoughtful, informed, and persuasive essay.
You will write an audience analysis, identifying why this audience is appropriate for your argument, how they might respond to your argument, and any other considerations. If it’s an audience they will need a lot of convincing, you will indicate that here. If it’s general public, you still need to provide a thorough analysis and perhaps trim the audience down a bit–maybe to American citizens, a specific age group, etc. The analysis should be at least 150 words and will be placed above your paper.
Beyond identifying who your audience is and in what contexts they might encounter your argument, you should also consider how they might feel about the issue already. Do they need convincing? How much convincing? Do they completely disagree with your premise, or are they undecided or neutral on the issue? While arguing with people who disagree with you may seem to be the most challenging rhetorical situation, persuading neutral or apathetic readers to care at all about a topic is often a difficult rhetorical task. Use stasis theory to help you determine your relationship to your audience vis-a-vis your topic.
Writing the Position Paper
You may feel as if you’ve said all there is to say on your topic, but our work during this section of the course turns your attention to rhetorical strategies that take up concerns of cause, consequence, and proposals for new action. Thus, you might work in this final paper to pinpoint the cause and the consequences of the problem you have been exploring and then propose a solution. Such a focus on proposals and solutions is indeed welcome, for we can all identify problems. The challenge is to create solutions.
For this project, you are required to have a bibliography of at least twenty At least 10 of these sources need to be academic (books, articles, government and scholarly reports, etc.); the others might include blogs, interviews, magazine or newspaper articles, YouTube videos, or graphs from government or think tank websites. All sources must be reputable, credible, and useful for your case. Of course, you should draw on your Annotated Bibliography assignment and your Required Reading list from the Digital Forum. You’ll also, though, need to conduct more research. A great part of your success in this assignment will be determined by how well you employ your research.
*You will need to use at least 10 sources in your position paper. This can be any combination of sources, but at least five of them should be scholarly in nature.
One of the trickiest parts of a long argument is organization. You need to give an overview, stake your claim, offer evidence, refute evidence—how will you put it all together? There are two rhetorical tools to help you here.
The first is the stases. You can use the hierarchy of the stases, the way that an issue in one stasis depends on or interacts with an issue in another stasis, to help shape the paper. If you are making an argument about action, for example, you might introduce your thesis, but then bring in issues from fact/definition to establish background, issues from cause/effect to show exigence, issues from value to further develop a sense of importance and urgency, and then come to more extensive support for your claim about action.
The second piece of rhetorical theory is the parts of a full argument found in chapter 3 of Inventing Arguments. The parts of a full argument offer guidelines about how to begin and offer background and how to lay out a map for the paper.