Prompt: The Productive Counterargument is your chance to engage in civic deliberation that is mutually productive and creative and influence your readers to understand your position on an issue. Identify an interesting problem or issue that affects a community that you are a part of and that merits your taking a stand. Next, research the positions others have taken on the issue, and identify one published position that differs from your own. Finally, demonstrate why you disagree with that position and put forth your own argument. Do more than just respond to an already existing position, advance a position of your own. To accomplish this, decide (1) what points you are responding to that need to be refuted and (2) where you need to present your own new arguments and information to give a fuller picture of the issue to your audience. Your goal is to actively listen to other positions, civilly engage with a larger conversation, and create understanding and new insights that build community. Process: For brainstorming, think about a local issue that is debatable. You are more likely to make a strong, insightful, and fresh argument about issues affecting your hometown, university, or academic organization than about national or global issues like hunger, gun control, or the drinking age. After you have explored various positions about this topic, select one existing argument with which you disagree. This argument provides your exigence: respond directly to it. As part of your proposal, provide a copy (or link) of the existing argument you would like to refute. Explain your exigence and purpose for addressing this topic, and identify an audience you can address, with your common ground. As you are drafting, consider the character of your audience—friendly? hostile? mixed?—and how best to address them. How might you establish common ground and build consensus with the opposition, even as you refute and rebut to distinguish your own position? Consider what persuasive arguments, examples, reasoning, and rhetorical appeals will best achieve your purpose and avoid fallacies. To support your position, you should have sufficient evidence (from credible sources) that is properly integrated, cited, and developed through your own reasoning. As you revise and edit, consider tone. The 1-page cover letter should explain your rhetorical decision-making, and specifically for this paper, it should include: (1) an explanation of your rhetorical purpose, its relation to the issue and your audience, and (2) several examples of rhetorical choices you made to achieve your purpose with an analysis of the outcome. Format: Your final draft should be 4-5 pages (double-spaced, TNR font, 1” margins). Grading Criteria: Your essay should (1) define a debatable issue clearly; (2) address and influence a specific audience; (3) identify, summarize, and engage with an existing position; (4) respond to an existing argument with a convincing, rhetorically effective counterargument; (5) support your claims with examples, details, and reasoning; (6) use research that is credible, appropriate, and properly cited following MLA guidelines; (7) demonstrate the potential to influence your audience toward your purpose; and (8) explain and defend these rhetorical choices in a cover letter.
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