Searching for Home

By Anonymous

Instructor Resources

Declamation Argument: Topics and Rhetorical Purposes

What is a problem, an event, a program, an issue, an idea that you are interested in, are affected by and/or have experience with, and think your audience should care about, too?

Or, what is a current social, political, ethical, or moral problem or issue you're affected by and think others should be concerned about as well?

How would you like to affect your audience's thinking and/or actions?

In regard to your audience: To varying degrees, you may already know this audience (e.g., a speech to your classmates), or they may be strangers to you (e.g., a letter to a national newspaper). Regardless, there will almost certainly be a diverse range of perspectives regarding the audience members' stances toward your topic or issue.

Several General Task Options:

While thinking of potential topics, audiences, and purposes, you have several approaches available as options:

You can write a speech to your Writing and Rhetoric classmates. This argument could attempt to accomplish several things: It could educate your audience about the issue, topic, or problem. It could also, then, attempt to persuade your audience to accept your position or point of view on the issue, topic, or problem. ("Here's what you need to know about the issue, and here's my stand.")

You can write a speech to members of another class (e.g., your Moreau class), of an organization, club, or any other gathering. As with the above option, this argument would attempt to accomplish several things: It would educate your audience about the issue, topic, or problem. It would also attempt to persuade your audience to accept your position or point of view on the issue, topic, or problem.

You can write an open letter to specific, real people. This would be an argument intended not only for the recipients but also for anyone else who would happen to read the publication in which the open letter appears. Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" is a type of open letter: It is addressed to eight clergymen who had criticized Dr. King, but he knew his letter would appear in other publications and be read by many other people.

You can write a response in reply to another, published argument, one that appeared in our campus newspaper, The Observer (in the "Viewpoint" section). If you chose this option, remember that you're addressing your argument to the writer of the original argument. Also, if you chose this option, you will need to submit a copy of the original argument with your argument.

Be sure to specify, in a "Situation Statement" that will accompany your essay, which of the above choices you have selected.

Sources, Documentation, and Other Citation Issues:

MLA documentation will be used, with a separate Works Cited page.

Because this essay fulfills the "research" requirements for WR, you will need to use and cite a minimum of five different outside sources in your essay. I will show you examples in class--how to cite, when to cite, why to cite, etc.

Wikipedia is a great site to gather some preliminary, background information, but for most topics, it is not a good source for a college-level argument.

In Writing and Rhetoric, we take the following pledge seriously: "As a member of the Notre Dame community, I will not participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty." You should take it seriously, too. NB: It is plagiarism to recycle or reuse a paper written for another (current or previous) class. This includes an essay written in high school (e.g., your senior English research paper).

Other Relevant Criteria:

Points: 0 to 108

Length: 7-8 pages, not including the Works Cited page (1" margins, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font or its equivalent)

Due Date: to be announced

Highlighted Criteria: content (claims and evidence or data); organization; recognition of complexity of issue(s); and recognition of (and response to) reader's beliefs, values, and needs

A situation statement is required: Your qualifications and role, audience, and ultimate goal identified at the top of the paper, single-spaced just above the title. Also include how your audience will see and/or receive your argument. (Will it be a speech to your classmates, for instance? Will it appear in The Observer or another publication?)

Can you use "I" in this argument? Absolutely.