WRT 120: Effective
Sections 5 and 80
September 30, 2005
Analyzing an Argument
Using either the “Research Navigator” Prentice Hall provides
(through either Bb or prenhall.com) or Ebscohost’s “Newspaper
Source” (via the library’s index page), find an opinion piece (editorial) to
analyze). Read the article carefully using
the strategies provided in Chapters 2 and 3 of The Call to Write.
Analyze the argument by completing items 1-10 below (some
answers may require a sentence; others may demand a paragraph). Submit your answers as an RTF file via
- Summarize the argument. What is the main claim?
- Specify what is at issue in the argument and identify
the type of issue—substantiation, evaluation, policy (remember that an
argument may combine issues).
- Describe the context of issues. Is the argument part of an ongoing
debate, discussion, or controversy?
What positions have people taken in the past?
- What is the call to write? Why is the writer addressing the issue
and taking a position at this particular time? How does the writer identify the
significance of the issues involved?
- Describe the intended audience or audiences and
explain how the argument seeks to influence them (to take action, support
or oppose a policy, reconsider an established fact or belief, make a value
judgment). What kind of
relationship is the writer trying to establish with the audience(s)? Is his purpose stated explicitly or
- Analyze the rhetorical stance. What are the writer’s strategies? How does the writer integrate ethos,
pathos, and logos?
- How does the writer use language? What is the writer’s tone? What does his word choice show about his
assumptions about his audience(s)?
Does he use specialized terms or slang? Are there memorable figures of
speech? Does the writer stereotype?
- Analyze the parts of the argument—claims,
evidence, enabling assumptions, backing, differing views, qualifiers—and
how the writer puts them together.
Is there enough evidence?
What assumptions does the writer make about the connections between
his/her claims and the evidence?
- Examine any strategies used to negotiate
- Evaluate the overall effectiveness of the
argument. Keep in mind that the
goal of argument is to clarify reasonable differences as well as to