First-year Composition / Eng. 102
Project 2: Analyzing and Evaluating Arguments
Purpose: To objectively analyze a single written argument from your textbook The Structure of
Argument by 1) identifying the following elements of argument within it: the thesis or main claim and its
type, the support for the claim and its type, as well as the author’s underlying assumptions or warrants
and by 2) evaluating the author’s effective use of the above rhetorical elements. The analysis / evaluation
must be detailed in its reference to the text (written argument) and utilize a combination of summary,
paraphrase and quotation in explicating each element.
Outcomes: To gain greater understanding of the topic and demonstrate critical thinking and writing
skills such as the…
• ability to apply principles of discovery with a chosen topic and given purpose
ability to critically read, identify and interpret specific rhetorical elements of argument
ability to explain the function and effective use of each rhetorical elements [Toulmin analysis]
ability to formulate and develop a thesis on the topic and coherently organize its support
ability to select, integrate and cite textual material in support of the thesis [source min.: TBD]
ability to identify audience and suit tone and diction to audience
ability to use suitable formatting, sentence variety, punctuation, etc. for the genre
ability to assess and utilize feedback from instructor, peers, tutors
Upon completion of pre-writing exercises / workshop activities, consider this simple outline for
organizing and developing your analysis and evaluation. Also review all Bb posts + assigned and
recommended reading in Chs. 6, 7 + 8 [(163-165; 172-174, top; 179-180, half pg., “Guide” 186) + (189202; 214-218) + (226-234, esp. “Strategies”)].
Part 1: Number of paragraphs will vary
Part 1 should identify your purpose or reason for writing, along with the written argument’s
author, the author’s credentials, its publication source, and a brief description of its topic. Include
a thesis or claim statement in Part 1 about the argument you’re analyzing (see Ch. 4: 121-122).
Your thesis should be a combination of factual comment and value judgment, identifying the
argument’s level of effectiveness—both in terms of its form, or use of rhetorical elements, and its
Also in Part 1, use the assigned chapters for Toulmin analysis to help you methodically identify
the following three elements of argument: claim, support, warrant(s) and their types, fact, value,
policy? evidence or appeals? unstated beliefs or values? Refer to the argument itself and use
strategic summary, paraphrase, and quotation to both identify and explain these elements for the
reader in detail *. Your aim should be to present the author’s argument in a clear and objective
manner before evaluating its effectiveness in Part 2.
* Properly attribute paraphrasing and quotations to the author/argument chosen and cite each
in MLA style within the paper and the entire argument or essay in the Works Cited page. See Chs.
4 (124-129) + Ch. 14, (399-410—esp. 403 for anthologies)
Part 2: Number of paragraphs will vary
Within Part 2, be sure to demonstrate your evaluative thesis by assessing the argument’s overall
effectiveness—that is, how well it utilizes the various elements of argument identified in Part 1
and how well it communicates to its intended audience and within its cultural context.
Be specific about the effectiveness of each, referring overtly, again, to the written argument
itself and, implicitly, to assigned chapter information as necessary for your evaluation:
[See specific page numbers for Toulmin analysis (Chs. 6-8) highlighted on previous page]
1. How strong is the author’s claim? Is it clearly stated and sound? Why / why not? (Ch. 6)
2. Is the type of support used—evidence or appeals—persuasive, reliable, current,
sufficient, etc.? How so? (Ch. 7)
3. Are the underlying assumptions or warrants reasonable and “universally” accepted? Do
they successfully bridge the claim and support together? Yes/no? Why/why not? (Ch. 8)
4. Do you find any common logical fallacies? Be specific. (Ch. 11, 315, bottom-325)
5. How do you rate the author’s overall effectiveness in arguing to its intended audience?
What would you do differently, if anything, in terms of rhetorical strategy? Be specific.
*Reminder: Properly attribute paraphrasing and quotations to the author/argument chosen and
cite each in MLA style within the paper and the entire argument or essay in the Works Cited page.
See Chs. 4 (124-129) + Ch. 14, (399-410—esp. 403 for anthologies)
How to submit / Due date:
Submit final copy printed and stapled, w/drafting, etc. behind final draft on due date in class.
Use black, standard font and double-space. (For MLA-style formatted paper, see Ch. 14, 412-416)
Length is approximate: 2-3 pages, incl. pre-writing, drafting
Due Week 8 (See syllabus for details)
First-year Comp. / Eng. 102
Analysis / Evaluation of an Argument /
Sample Paper for Project 2
The following sample paper is based on the Project 2 Guidelines. Use the guidelines as a checklist as you
review this paper: Pay close attention to how the author and each element (claim, support, assumptions /
warrants, logical fallacies, etc.) are introduced, properly attributed, and analyzed through a
combination of summary, paraphrase, and/or quotation.
*Note: Textbook argument selected is “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters” by Guy-Uriel Charles (252).
Informal Outline for this Sample Paper:
Part 1: several paragraphs—likely longer than Part 2
Introduce author + topic of argument
State thesis or writer’s own position toward argument’s content and form + rhetorical efficacy
Methodical identification of claim, support, and (at least one) warrant or underlying assumption
by use of summary, paraphrase, and quotation to illustrate each element + its type
*Evaluative comments in this part should be objective or “neutral” in tone
Part 2: about two paragraphs—likely shorter than Part 1
• Demonstrate the argument’s effectiveness by referring again to the elements of argument and how
successful they are in service to the author’s goal to persuade the reader
• Utilize the questions (1-5) outlined in the Project 2 Guidelines to guide you in composing this
• Evaluative commentary—your tone may be positive, negative or both
Part 1 begins…Objective analysis / identification of rhetorical elements
Disaster Victims or “Looters”?
In his 2010 article for CNN titled, “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters,” law professor and
founder of the Center on Law, Race, and Politics at Duke University, Guy-Uriel Charles simply and
eloquently calls for all news sources to end their practice of labeling disaster victims as criminals without
the benefit of any legal authority or conviction. The article, written soon after the 2010, 7.0 magnitude
earthquake which claimed an estimated 300,00 victims in Haiti, provides ample proof of this unjust
practice not only with respect to Haiti but also in the context of past disasters in the U.S. such as hurricane
Katrina, which occurred in 2005 (Pallardy).
A close analysis not only of the dramatic content of Charles’s argument, but also of the various
elements of arguments which he utilizes to shape it, reveals that as a writer he masterfully draws in his
audience and achieves his goal. The argument’s most obvious—and regrettable—shortcoming is that it
does not provide a clear path for correcting the problem he identifies; that is, how reporters or
photojournalists can develop the sort of legal sophistication he calls for is never fully addressed.
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