write a 1700-2500 word essay (approx. 5-7 pages) taking a
Rogerian approach to developing an argument in response to Mark Edmundson’s essay “On
the Uses of a Liberal Education: As Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students.” The point
of this essay is not to prove Edmundson right or wrong, but to use his claims as a framework
for developing and supporting an argument of your own. Keep in mind that while you will be
responding to Edmunson’s claims in your paper, you cannot and will not be addressing them
all, so make sure that your argument is focused around the specific questions this essay raises
This paper needs to be formatted according to MLA style (consult pages 104-162 in A
Pocket Style Manual as needed). As with all papers in this class, your essay needs to follow the
formatting requirements for papers; the handout explaining these requirements is available
In organizing and structuring your paper, here is what you need to keep in mind:
Use the four steps described on pages 104-105 of From Inquiry to Academic
Writing to help shape your introduction. Your introduction needs to include the
author’s first and last name (after the first time, refer to the author by last name only)
and the title of the article, correctly formatted. The introduction needs to contextualize
the broader issue, establish the relevant points from the essay that you’ll be
addressing, and articulate your own thesis. Your thesis can be a correctinginterpretations-,
filling-the-gap-, or modifying-what-others-have-said-model (see pages
101-103 in From Inquiry to Academic Writing).
Use the four steps of a Rogerian argument, described on page 63 of From
Inquiry to Academic Writing, to help shape the body of the paper; in this case, however,
you’re not addressing readers’ views, but Edmundson’s.
In the first part of the body (steps 1 & 2) you need to establish what
Edmundson’s claims are, those that are relevant to your own argument (you should not
be summarizing the essay as a whole). The tone of your paper should be reasonable and
measured and should demonstrate that you have an accurate grasp of the claims and
are able to acknowledge the degree to which Edmundson’s points are valid.
Using that common ground as your point of departure, the next part of the body
(steps 3 & 4) should pivot to your own position. This is where you develop and support
your own argument, framing it in reference to Edmundson’s claims, which you will
RHET 250 : Academic Writing at USF
have already established in the first part of the essay. Here you can take issue with
Edmundson’s claims or build on and expand them to develop your own position.
Each body paragraph must provide evidence to support your claims. You should
rely heavily on textual evidence from Edmundson’s essay (be sure it’s correctly
formatted and integrated), but may also use anecdotal evidence and draw from
personal experience. For this, you may use “I” in your paper.
The conclusion of your paper is a space for reflection and synthesis. It needs to
do something other than just repeat the points you already made in your introduction
or elsewhere in the paper. Here you should be able to articulate a more evolved version
of your thesis than you were able to state at the beginning of the paper. The conclusion
should also reflect on the evolution of your thinking on this matter and reflect on the
various factors that have shaped your perspective. The final section of your paper,
therefore, should return to your initial claims and examine how they have become more
Your paper needs to provide bibliographic information for all the sources cited in
the essay. At the very least, this must include the bibliographic information for
Edmundson’s essay, as found in our textbook. If you use any other sources (and you
are not required to), they must be acknowledged, both through in-text citations and
the bibliography. In MLA format, the bibliography is called Works Cited. Consult A
Pocket Style Manual to learn how the information on this page needs to be formatted.
Your paper will be graded according to the grading rubric for Paper 2, available on
Blackboard. You will principally be evaluated on your ability to demonstrate an accurate
grasp of Edmundson’s claims, and an ability to develop and support your own argument in
relation to those claims.
A full and correctly formatted working draft – including title, introduction, body
paragraphs, textual evidence, conclusion, and bibliography – is due on Blackboard and in class
on Monday, 16 September. You must bring 3 printed copies of your draft with you to class
– one copy is for me, the other two are for the people in your peer-editing group. You do not
need to attach the grading rubric to your draft. Although this draft is not graded, it is
required. Failure to submit a complete draft on time will lower your grade on the final paper.
The final, revised version of your paper is due in hard-copy and digital format by the
beginning of class on Friday, 4 October. Your paper remains ungraded until I have both
versions. Don’t forget to attach a copy of the grading rubric to the hard copy of your paper.
Remember that late papers are not accepted and papers that do not meet the minimum word
count earn no points.
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