The Archeology Museum

Eng 101
Taking a Position Essay

Rough draft: April 12
Polished draft: April 17
Final draft: April 19

Assignment: Take a position on an issue that, based on the research you conducted in your profile essay, interests and perplexes you. Direct your essay to a resistant audience of Americans, aged 50-65 (Baby Boomers). Be sure to support your argument (7-10 paragraphs) with scholarly research, field work, observation, and/or personal experience. Draw upon the sources you encountered in your profile, but you will also need to consult at least 2 new sources. In other words, you will continue the research you started, but in a more focused way.

Invention activities:

1. Before writing your essay, estimate and summarize the various views a Baby Boomer audience may have about your issue and stance. To help you assess your audience’s knowledge about your topic, answer the questions below in your notes. Do not summarize this knowledge in your essay or simply write out the answers to these questions in your essay. Your reader, for example, does not need to know who s/he is and what s/he values, but you need to know in order to shape your essay and to connect more effectively to your readers. Knowing your audience well will help you make effective ethical, emotional, and logical appeals.

Describe your audience. Who are these people? What do they value? How educated might they be in general? How much might they know about your issue?
How do your values, education, assumptions or beliefs differ from our audience’s values, education, assumptions or beliefs? How are they similar?
What general view do you think your audience holds with regard to your issue?
What general view do you think your audience holds with regard to your stance?
Is the view reasonable? Why or why not?
Why should your audience care about your issue or stance?
What common ground do you have with your audience?
What types of evidence does your audience value?
How might your audience react to an emotional appeal?

2. Be sure you have an arguable position (not based on taste or faith or an already proven fact). Answer the questions below in your notes.

Is your position worthy of being taken seriously?
Is your position plausible? Supportable?
Is your position the best possible answer to the issue?

3. In your introduction, clearly state a position on your issue. This will be your thesis (main point). Answer the questions below in your notes. You might include this information in your essay.

What is your view of the topic? Why are you interested in the issue?
Why were you led to take your particular position?
Do you offer a new perspective on the issue?
What question does your position answer?
Why will it interest of possible offend your reader?

4. Before you state your thesis, you’ll probably need to supply a current context for your issue, along with background information and definitions of terms or concept unfamiliar to your readers. This information will appear in your introduction, but it will also appear scattered throughout your essay (as you present your supporting points). Consider the questions below as you introduce your issue and position.

What do you know about your issue and your position?
How did you become familiar with the issue and position?
What do your readers know about the issue? What don’t they know?
Why might your readers be familiar or unfamiliar with the issue?
What parts of your argument may seem strange to a Baby Boomer audience?

5. Next, offer good reasons for your position. Support your points with information and reasoning stemming from your own personal experience, scholarly research, observations and/or interviews with experts. Consider the following:

What types of evidence support your view?
What scholarly or investigative research supports your view (information taken from scholarly journals and books, newspaper articles, databases, websites, interviews, etc.)?
How might this new information enlighten or change the way your audience views your position?
Do you have any personal experience with your essay’s issue?
Why should your audience listen to or consider your point of view? How might you be more informed than they are about the topic?
Do you have any anecdotes to offer that might help explain your position? Scenarios? Case studies? Statistics?
How recent is your evidence? Is it impartial or biased?

6. Throughout your essay, be sure to appeal to your readers’ values and any other views they may hold on your issue. As you present your points, summarize and respond to alternate views. Decide whether you will acknowledge the validity of these other positions, agree with them to some extent, or refute them. Consider the following questions:

What positions stand in direct opposition to your position? Are they valid? Why?
Why do you disagree with these opposing positions?
What other positions do you agree with? How do they relate to your position?
Why did you decide not to support these positions?
How can you convince your readers to abandon these opposing or different positions?

7. Provide a conclusion, perhaps ending with a call to action.

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