English 100 Essay #4 Tipsheet

Arguing a Point

Your writing task:

Notice that you have three different options, drawing upon three different pairs of readings. Do not mix and match! After you choose a topic, stick to the two readings.

Hints for success:

  1. Because this is a longer paper than your previous assignments, you will be tempted to try a couple of tricks to bulk it up. Avoid these:
    • Filling it up with direct quotations. Most of this paper should be your own words, and you should only put in direct quotations when you want to make a point about the exact language the author is using. Long quotations (four or more lines) are set off as indented paragraphs, and you should have very good reasons for putting them in. Keep your quotes short and use indirect quotations and summaries as your main workhorses.
    • The translation paper. This strategy involves giving us a long quotation from the author then telling us what it said. Even if you do it right, it's boring and insulting—and if you get your "translation" wrong, your whole essay is destroyed. The translation paper comes across as arrogant and almost never fulfills the assignment.
  2. As with the previous assignment, a major challenge is to come up with a thesis which will lead to a unified essay. All three options throw questions at you, but your final product should not be a simple list of answers. You need to come up with an essay, not bullet points. The "Patriotism" and "Gender" topics ask you to get a conversation going between two authors, but don't get trapped in a ping-pong match. ("This author said this but that author said that, and this author said this but that author said that.") You need to make a point, not just give us lists of quotations.

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Revised 7/27/20 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: callen@ashland.edu.