English 111


You know how to break down the argument that someone else is offering, but what about creating your own? We’ve been practicing skills of source incorporation, creating strong thesis statements, and organizing your writing, and these will come together in the argument paper—an essay where you truly “take a position” in an ongoing conversation!

How will I write the argument paper?

In your essay, you will structure your argument around the question: “Is technology more helpful or more harmful to humans?” This question should be your starting point, and you should narrow your focus to a topic that can be handled in an (approximately) 5-page essay; explaining all the harms and benefits of all different technologies is both impossible and impractical. The topic of the argument you make is up to you. As you brainstorm, you might consider harms, benefits, texting, computers, health sciences, education, social media, politics, entertainment, war, environment- the door is open.

Example theses that build off of the question and narrows in on a specific topic might read: 

· “Technology’s development has been integral to life-saving measures in the medical field, and, despite its social harms, technology continues to be overwhelmingly positive for humans.”

· “Visual and computer-based technologies, while allowing the film industry to expand the worlds it builds, has dramatically decreased the quality of media created today; heavy reliance on CGI has cheapened storylines and human element that is crucial to an enduring film.”

· “Social media has played a decisive role in political engagement across the globe since its inception; though social media can allow for the easy spread of misinformation, its function as a tool for organizing, especially for teen and young-adult users, has had an overall positive effect towards the spread of democracy.”

As support, you will use evidence from at least one of the readings from the “Technology and Science” theme of our textbook (see page xi in ENG 111 Reader). You will also use two outside sources for this paper.

We will begin the writing process together by learning about the methods of argumentative writing, as well as doing a couple readings about technology. We will also learn research strategies and how to locate and vet sources, and we will learn how to work the library databases. On your own time, you should peruse additional readings from your text and from the library in order to craft an informed, nuanced thesis. Take into consideration that, during the course of your paper, you will need to prove the thesis you offer, as well as consider any counter-points or count-arguments to the claim you make.

After you have gathered some information and notes, you will want to begin thinking about the conversation as a whole and asking yourself how you feel about technology and what about the topic interests you- on what topic could you write a longer paper?

From here, you will begin drafting! Remember, your opinion may change over time, so we want to keep a “working thesis statement” and be open to adjustment as you read more and give more time to your ideas.

Your audience for this essay consists of a wide range of people with very different backgrounds- a wider, general group who is willing to be convinced by your opinion on technology. By the end of your essay, the audience should be convinced of your position.

What do I need to do to be successful?

In order to write a successful position paper, there are a few things I require from you:

-Demonstrate an understanding of source inclusion and fair representation of ideas (providing counter-arguments, not taking information out of context, citing sources correctly, etc.).

-Have a thesis statement which takes a stance and offers some insight on technology’s impact. The thesis should also meet our thesis requirements from the RfW.

-Show an awareness of the appropriate audience, especially through a useful organizational structure and use of third person only (no first/second person except in the hook, and no informal language like contractions).

-Write 1500-1800 words on your topic. (Draft= 1100 words) 

-Include at least one of the optional sources from your book, and include at least two additional, researched sources that meet our requirements for strong sources. You should have no more than one block (long) quotation.

-Correctly format and submit an essay that adheres to MLA guidelines, including a works cited page.

-Attend and participate in writing workshops.

What skills does the argument paper give me?

The position paper is designed to meet SLOs 1-10. A full description these outcomes can be found on your syllabus.

This paper is your best foundation for argument. You’ve already been voicing your opinion in this class, and you provided a thesis in previous essays, but this is your chance to offer a more original take on a topic and prepare for upper-level assignments.

Due date: Essay 3: Argument is due ­­­on the date assigned at 11:59PM. The essay should be submitted online through Blackboard’s SafeAssign in a .doc or .docx Microsoft Word document. Late papers are allowed up to three days late, after which time they will no longer be accepted, per the syllabus.