WRITING A PERSUASIVE ESSAY
Fundamentally, all writing is an act of persuasion.
The classical view describing how a writer seeks to convince another person:
• Logos: Persuasion by means of facts and evidence.
• Pathos: Persuasion by means of emotional appeal.
• Ethos: Persuasion by means of credential and authority.
A persuasive essay tries to convince the reader to agree with the writer’s opinion on a subject. In your persuasive essay you do three things:
• Present your position on a discussable issue.
• Anticipate possible objections and overcome them with logic and evidence to support your claim.
• Persuasive goal: Have a clearly stated persuasive goal (such as labelling all content in energy drinks per the sample essay).
Your essay needs to make some kind of argument about one of the following prompts:
1. Compare/contrast the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to another immigration law. Be sure to describe the history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, including also when it was repealed in 1943 and why it was repealed.
4. Compare/contrast experiences of 19th century Chinese immigrants to one other ethnic group. Be sure to give sufficient background for both the Chinese and the other immigrant group. While you can certainly go beyond the 19th century in your comparison/contrast, remember that there are options within the 19th century as well, including the displacement of Native American tribes such as the Cherokee and Iroquois.
4. According to Zhi Lin, “it is impossible to discuss history without considering the authorship of history.” What history is Lin referencing? Who is the author of that history in traditional terms, and who gets left out, silenced, or made anonymous? How can Lin’s art be understood as rewriting history? Be sure to use specific examples in your response of historical events or people erased, and how art (or text) addresses that erasure.
Essay Assignment. Your essay must actively and thoroughly do the following:
• Describe and define a subject about which you have, or seek to have, an opinion or claim. Your subject cannot be so broad (such as xenophobia in the United States) that your essay cannot responsibly address it in a short essay. Cut your topic down to size by focusing on a specific ASPECT of that subject.
• Explicitly state your own position or opinion.
• Identify and state your persuasive goal.
• Incorporate at least one scholarly source to support your own opinion. Remember that online encyclopedias are not scholarly sources. They offer good information! But they are not scholarly sources.
• Incorporate legitimate popular sources (not Wikipedia) as you see fit to provide information, support your opinion, and incorporate naysayer.
• Your naysayer must be named. In other words, “some people say” is not good enough. Find a specific example.
• Must use at least once EACH of the three classical persuasive strategies.
• Provide at least one concrete, specific example.
Anticipating and integrating objections or counterpoints It may at first seem like a mistake to describe opposing points of view in your essay. However, doing so fairly actually increases the credibility and power of your essay. Rather than pretending reasonable people can’t disagree on a debatable issue—say, supporting one or another candidate in a particular political party—the essay that accommodates an opposing point of view ends up being more credible, fairer, and more mature. Take opposing viewpoints seriously and do not oversimplify them. It is not effective or convincing to base your argument on easily refutable points. Once you fairly represent what another reasonable position is, you can then explain how and why your own opinion disagrees in whole or part. This is called naming the naysayer.
• 5-6 pages
• Typed double-spaced
• MLA formatting and citation
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