Writing Assignment: Exploring Complexity in Issues of Economic Inequality

Writing Assignments 3 and 4:

Exploring Complexity in Issues of Economic Inequality

Background

After a unit on “hidden intellectualism” and on staying in college, the class turned to the question posed by the editors of “They Say / I Say”: “What’s up with the American dream?” Is it alive? Is it dead? Is it sick? Is it robust? What should be done about the question of economic inequality and who should do it?

Your Task

This assignment has three stages. First, you will write a short essay arguing one side of the issue related to economic inequality in America, suggesting a specific policy change or change of behavior to a specific group of people. In the next stage, you will write another short paper arguing the opposing side, giving the opposite advice. Then, in the final stage, you will combine the two sides of the argument into a complex, balanced argument.

3rd paper, part 1: In a 2-3 page double-spaced essay in MLA format, analyze one very specific aspect of economic inequality in America (such as opportunity, education, employment, health care, housing, gender, race, or other). Take a stand in the form of a positive call to action or a policy suggestion for a particular group. Your thesis should answer the question “Who should do what?” Be sure to give your argument in carefully organized stages, supporting each point with many examples, facts, statistics, anecdotes, quotes, paraphrases and summaries from the class readings and individual research. Feel free to include your own experience as well.

Generating Ideas: What specific aspect of the issue of income inequality in America did you choose? Why did you choose that aspect? Do you have personal reasons for caring about the issue? How does the issue affect you, your family, your friends, your community, your school, your job, your future prospects? What did you learn from the readings? How should we perceive or understand the situation differently? What should change? Who should change? Who should change what? What can individuals, such as yourself, your classmates and your teacher do to make things better? What facts and statistics can you use to support your argument? Can you bring in any relevant anecdotes from your own life or from those you know? Can you find any other articles or studies which will add strength to your argument.

3-4 pages of prewriting: Due Monday, November 18th

Worksheet and draft (3 copies for peer review): Due Wednesday, November 20th

Polished draft (no rewrites allowed at this stage): Due Friday, November 22nd

3rd paper, part 2: In a 2-3 page double-spaced essay in MLA format, take the opposing side of the issue and present a counterargument, framed as specific policy suggestion for a particular group. Your thesis should answer the question “Who should do what?” Even though you may disagree with the points you are making, you must play what Peter Elbow calls “The Believing Game” and present the argument as thoroughly and fairly as possible. Be sure to give the argument in carefully organized stages, supporting each point with many quotes, facts, and examples from the class readings and individual research. Feel free to include your own experience as well.

3-4 pages of prewriting materials and worksheet: Due Monday, December 2nd

Complete draft (bring in a hard copy for workshop): Due Wednesday, December 4th

Polished draft (no rewrites allowed at this stage): Due Friday, December 6th

4th paper: In a 6-8 page double-spaced paper, synthesize the two sides of the argument, exploring the complexity of the issue and recommending changes that specific members of our society must make to rectify the situation. Be sure to lay out your argument in carefully organized stages, moving back and forth between your opinion and opposing viewpoints, giving concessions to the other side, disproving counterarguments, demonstrating how your position is stronger, and supporting each point with many quotes, facts, and examples from the class readings and individual research. Feel free to include your own experience as well.

Worksheet and rough draft: Due Monday, December 9th

Second draft (Bring in a hard copy for workshop.): Due Wednesday, December 11th

Third draft (Bring in three copies for peer review.): Due Friday, December 15th

Polished draft (Bring to my office. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want to receive detailed feedback): Due Monday December 16th.

Reflection paper: Due Monday December 16th.

Letter to a politician or other official: Due Monday December 16th.

Requirements

Basic requirements: Each paper must

  • suggest a change in policy to a specific group of people regarding income inequality in America in a thesis statement answering the question “Who should do what?”

  • stage the main argument with careful reasoning, clearly announced in topic sentences.

  • support each point with many, many, many real-world examples, facts, statistics, anecdotes, quotes, summaries, and paraphrases.

  • include in-text citations and works cited in MLA format.

A successful paper should

  • open with an attention-getting title, which announces or hints at the topic and main point.

  • have a catchy hook.

  • introduce the issue, telling why it matters and who should care about it and giving necessary background information in the introduction

  • introduce the principle source material by giving author’s name, some information about who the author is, the title of the work and a brief summary in the introduction or first body paragraph..

  • have specific wording and substantial detail.

  • build sentences on strong sentence focus, (specific, concrete nouns as subjects) and utilize active verbs.

  • vary connecting words, announcing logical relationships between ideas.

  • demonstrate control over sentence boundaries and punctuation.

ensure that lists and comparisons are grammatically parallel.

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