Essay #1: Finding Common Ground

Essay #1: Finding Common Ground

Diving into an argument is very difficult to do. Imagine you are invited to a cocktail party and you arrive 30 minutes late. You walk into the ballroom and there are already 50 people there. There are numerous conversations going on; some of which have been going on for half an hour. You randomly pick out a group of 4 people to approach and socialize by getting involved with their conversation. You walk up, introduce yourself, and then listen in to what they are talking about. It takes time to get glued into the conversation so that you can contribute. This situation is analogous to writing our first essay, Finding Common Ground. Over the course of WRIT 112, you’ll develop the reading, writing, and research skills to write mature, researched papers. But the first step is to know how to get involved in a researched topic.

Write an essay analyzing at least two essays/TED Talks taking different positions on an issue. You may also draw on other sources for background information or context. Your purpose is to analyze at least two essays/TED Talks to understand their authors’ main points of disagreement and to suggest ways to identify points of agreement and build common ground based on shared values, concerns, needs, and interests, as well as to identify points of disagreement and different perspectives. To do this, you’ll use the essays posted to the course web site under “Happiness and its Discontents” and the TED Talks from the syllabus.

Criteria you’ll be graded on

An informative introduction to the issue and opposing positions

  • A paragraph or so laying out the idea of happiness as you, a culture, or someone else understands it. Begin with a quote, a surprising fact, a startling statistic, or a mini story.
  • A paragraph or so briefly describing the articles on happiness that you’ll be using, focusing on their main ideas and/or theoretical approaches to understanding happiness
  • A thesis identifying areas of disagreement and areas of common ground

A probing analysis with properly synthesized sources

  • Several paragraphs in which you argue to support your thesis’s assertions
  • Interesting and insightful discussion of the points of disagreement and potential agreement
  • Focus in on a few points rather than too many points
  • Explain in detail the points that are hard for readers to grasp
  • Consider emphasizing the less obvious points of agreement
  • Consider why the writers make a particular kind of argument rather than another kind of argument
  • Consider how the writer’s profession or biography could explain why a particular idea has so much persuasive power
  • Think about the social and political situation in which each essay was originally written and how the writer was trying to appeal to readers
  • Examine the concessions and refutations of opposing views to see where there might be room for agreement

A fair and impartial presentation

  • Consider your word choices, replacing judgmental words with neutral ones
  • Make sure you are representing each writer accurately and fairly
  • Give equal space to both arguments

A clear, logical organization

  • Paragraphs and sections are properly laid out and have effective flow and logic
  • Effective topic and “wrap up” sentences
  • Transition words
  • Appropriate use of headings, if applicable

An engaging, mature writing style and proper APA formatting

  • Title page, References page, proper page header format, and in-text citations

Sources:at least 2

Page length: 5

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