ENGL 1301, Prof. Gonzalez, Summer II 2020 Page 1 of 4
Argument Essay Assignment1
This essay will build upon your previous writing assignment, the proposal letter. You wrote a
letter to a decision-maker identifying a problem in your day-to-day life and proposing a solution.
Now, for this assignment, you will revise and expand your letter to create an essay for a
community newsletter. Your essay will argue why the community should implement your
solution to the problem.
The key question you’ll answer is “Why should the community implement my solution to the
You’re answering the key question for a semi-formal community newsletter. Keep in mind the
kinds of things your audience will understand already and what you’ll need to explain and/or
describe in greater detail.
Your goals as a writer include:
● A strong thesis statement that appears early.
● Precise description of the problem.
● Address why the topic matters to your audience.
● Offer accurate and fair analysis of your chosen problem. Show that you understand the
complexity of your topic. Include what other people have to say about the topic (and cite
● Include media (pictures, video, drawings, graphics, audio files) as appropriate for your
● A clear and compelling solution to the problem. Include clear, thoughtful reasoning;
● Include evidence that your solution will address the problem. Consider using anecdotal
evidence to strengthen your claims. Include what other people say who have tried your
solution if available (and cite those sources).
● Acknowledgement of other possible solutions. Locate your argument in the context of
relevant arguments and counterarguments. Address what other people are saying about
your topic (and cite those sources).
1 Remixed from Matthew Schmeer’s “Arguing a Position” and Amy Ratto-Parks and Sarah Dozor’s “Putting in Your
Oar: Writing the Op-Ed” in A Guide to Teaching Everyone’s an Author, 2nd ed.; WAC Clearinghouse,
Proposal-Letter Essay Assignment
ENGL 1301, Prof. Gonzalez, Summer II 2020 Page 2 of 4
● Be sure to summarize, quote, or paraphrase any sources and give credit to the material
correctly using signal phrases and MLA-style in-text citations.
● End with a statement of what your proposed solution will accomplish. (Think big: direct
and indirect results.)
● Outside sources are required, and you must give them credit. Include MLA-style in-text
citations and a work-cited list. .
● Length: more than 4 pages (not including works-cited list). Your essay should be of
sufficient length to meet your rhetorical situation.
● You do not have to submit your essay to a community publication for consideration, but
you can if you want!
Strategies for completing the essay include these:
- Refer to course resources before you begin and while you work on this assignment.
a. ► “Arguing a Position” (EA ch. 11)
b. ► “Arguing a Position: A Roadmap” (EA pp. 138-45)
c. ► “On Buying Local” by Katherine Spriggs, student example argument (EA pp.
d. ► “Arguments” (LS W-7)
- Use some of the PREWRITING STRATEGIES we’ve discussed in class. ► Refer to
“Generating Ideas” (LS W-3a) and “Tips for Writing an Argument” (LS pp. 45-48).
a. Reevaluate your proposal letter. Think of how you can revise and use parts of it
in your argument essay to answer the key question: “Why should the community
implement my solution to the problem?”
- Select the prewriting that’s most interesting to you to FOCUS on in your essay. ► Refer
to “Developing a Tentative Thesis” (LS W-3b).
- Continue to PREWRITE to develop as many notes about the topic as you can.
- When you’ve generated enough notes, SELECT the writing that best answers the key
question for this essay: “Why should the community implement my solution to the
- Meet with a writing tutor and/or someone from your community (classmates, friends,
family, etc.) to discuss your assignment at all stages. Be sure to show them this
- Consider the RHETORICAL SITUATION of this essay. ► Refer to “Writing Contexts”
(LS W-1, pp. 2-5).
Proposal-Letter Essay Assignment
ENGL 1301, Prof. Gonzalez, Summer II 2020 Page 3 of 4
a. What is the CONTEXT of your writing? What is the immediate occasion or the
timing (kairos) of your writing? Why are you writing this essay right now, and how
will that influence the way that you write?
b. Who is your AUDIENCE? What and how do you need to communicate your ideas
in order for your audience to understand you?
c. What is your PURPOSE? Your purpose here goes beyond simply describing the
problem. Your essay should persuade the community to implement your solution
to the problem.
d. What is your TOPIC, and what is your STANCE? What do you think and why?
Your own notes, the class discussion, and outside sources are your evidence.
e. What are your GENRE, your MEDIUM, and your DESIGN? You are asked to
write an essay, so what are the conventions of essay writing that will impact your
work? How will you organize your work? Your essay will be a written text with
media, so how will this impact your rhetorical choices? Your essay should follow
MLA guidelines for format. Refer to:
i. ► “Ways of organizing an argument” (LS pp. 47-48)
ii. ► “Designing What You Write” (LS W-5) and “Designing What You Write”
(EA ch. 33)
iii. ► “Illustrated Essays” (EA pp. 765-66)
iv. ► How to cite images (MLA citation for tables and illustrations).
f. What’s your STYLE? What is appropriate and correct for your rhetorical
situation? How formal is Katherine Spriggs in the example essay, and how formal
should you be? Consider matching your style with your purpose, topic, and
audience. ► Refer to “What’s Your Style?” (EA pp. 641-51).
- Write a ROUGH DRAFT in which you concentrate on getting out your ideas and
explaining them, without worrying too much about smaller issues like grammar and
punctuation. ► Refer to “Organizing and Drafting” (LS W-3c) and “Developing
Paragraphs” (LS W-4).
- REVISE and edit to create your final version using ideas from your reading, class
discussions, and draft feedback. ► Refer to “Revising” (LS W-3e), “Editing and
Proofreading” (LS W-3f), “Editing the Errors that Matter” (LS pp. 268+).
Typed essay in MLA format.
► the library’s website for help, instructions, and a download-able template
► the MLA’s website for how to format papers (style.mla.org/formatting-papers/).
Proposal-Letter Essay Assignment
ENGL 1301, Prof. Gonzalez, Summer II 2020 Page 4 of 4
● File format: .doc, .docx, .odt, or .pdf format (see syllabus and FAQs for details)
● Font: Times New Roman, size 12, black ink
● Spacing: 2.0 (double spaced), no extra space before/after paragraphs
● Margins: 1” all around
● Header: student’s last name and page number
● Heading: student’s full name, professor’s name, course number, due date
Fig. 1. Image of the first page of an essay in MLA format. Adapted from “MLA Example Paper.” MLA Citation Guide,
LSC-NH Library, 25 Mar. 2020, nhresearch.lonestar.edu/MLA. Accessed 28 Jun. 2020.