Essay 4 Assignment Information – Articulating a Claim


  • Due Friday, April 23 by 11:59 p.m.
  • Draft for Peer Review Due April 19/20 (April 19 for Online and M/W sections; 20 for T/TH)
  • Peer Review April 21/22 (21 for Online and M/W; 22 for T/TH)
  • The make-up policy from the syllabus will apply to this assignment. Late papers will be accepted for one week after the initial due date, with a 10 point grade reduction.
  • There is no opportunity for revision for this paper, since grading will take until the end of the semester
  • You will also be doing a presentation over this assignment. We will cover this in more detail in its own assignment information.


  • Basic MLA format submitted to Blackboard in a PDF.
  • 1600 word minimum – this corresponds to a little over 4 full pages. Papers with fewer than 1600 words will NOT BE GRADED – this word count does not include the cover page or other identifying information. Count only the body of the essay.
  • Use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure.
  • Works Cited page, listing at least 5 sources used in your paper, including the reading you are analyzing.
  • Include quotations and paraphrases from your sources, cited with in-text parenthetical citations.


The complex structure of an argument can be regarded as a pattern of development, which is used to support a particular type of claim. In preparing to write an argumentative essay, writers must be sure to address all the issues raised by the particular rhetorical situation and the type of claim involved. An aid to identifying the issues surrounding a claim of fact, value, or policy is the use of stock issues. These stock issues can help a writer to meet the burden of proof for each type of argumentative claim. These claims are the statements that the reader is asked to accept for which the writer will provide reasons; there are three basic types of claims:

• Claims of fact involve description. They concern matters that in theory can be described and verified by independent sources, but are frequently disputed among experts.

• Claims of value involve judgment. A judgment represents an appraisal or evaluation, which can be either absolute or comparative. Ethics are a key example of values.

• Claims of policy involve action. They are assertions about what should be done, and they are frequently characteristic of deliberative bodies.

For this essay develop an original argument about some theme or issue and incorporate appropriate literature as evidence to support the argument. You must read all listed poems/excerpts/etc. for the option you choose, and include at least one of them as a source for this essay. You must use a minimum of five sources total, meaning that you will need to do additional research to support your argument. The topic choices and claim options are below. You will need to begin with one of these claim options,

then narrow your focus to a specific sub-topic. The readings for each of these topics are in the schedule document.

Topic 1: Solitude 
Claim Options:
Write a claim of value about the benefits or drawbacks of spending time in solitude.
Write a claim of fact about the impact of social media on solitude.
Write a claim of policy, explaining how people should or should not attempt to include solitude in their lives.

Topic 2: Environmentalism
Claim Options:
Write a claim of fact about whether environmental protection is necessary. Choose a narrow issue to focus on such as animal testing, species preservation, or deforestation.
Write a claim of value explaining the relative value of human and animal life, and explaining the implications of those values.
Write a claim of policy about what rules the government should create and enforce in order to protect the environment. Choose a specific sub-topic.

Readings: Solitude, The Soul Selects Her Own Society, The World is Too Much With Us, Alone, Eco-Defense, The Panther, Evil of Animal Rights

Topic 3: Gender/Civil Rights/Diversity
Claim Options:
Write a claim of fact about whether the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s achieved its goals.
Write a claim of policy about how to approach a specific issue regarding gender, civil rights, or diversity. Write a claim of value about the importance of a particular movement, past or present, that attempts to address an issue in this topic.

Readings: The Trouble with Too Much T, Men Will Lose the Most Jobs to Robots That’s OK, The Men We Carry in Our Minds, Black Boy (American Hunger), Democracy, Mending Wall

Topic 4: Crime/Punishment/Revenge
Claim Options:
Write a claim of policy about how the law should deal with crime and punishment in some specific area. Write a claim of value about whether revenge is ever worthwhile.
Write a claim of fact about the moral guilt of a person who pursues revenge.

Readings: The Adventure of the Speckled Band Of Revenge, The Cask of Amontillado, Determining a Punishment That Fits the Crime


• Decide on the purpose of your argument. In other words, what do you hope to accomplish by writing your argument? Obviously you want to convince your reader of something, as argument is a method of persuasion. But what specific action do you want your reader to eventually do? Develop a claim based on a disputable fact, a value in question, or a policy under consideration.

• Gather information about your topic/situation/issue. This is an important step in forming your claim (or thesis statement). You will need to know all the particulars of your topic. What are the historical or current antecedents of your topic? What are the causes and effects of the situation? Who are the major supporters of the various sides of the issue? Who are the experts? How has the situation developed? What are the predictions of its development?

• Develop a central claim. A thesis statement in a written argument is called a claim, which makes an assertion, whether it is about disputable facts, the worth of something, or the way something is/is not done.

• Add qualifiers to make your claim flexible and moderate. Qualified claims are easier to defend because they are not stated in absolute terms. For example: Media violence should be tempered because it tends to generate aggression in children. By using the word tends, the writer avoids the absolute of saying media violence always generates aggression. It is not provable that it generates aggression in every case.

• Employ the Rhetorical Triangle. Use what you have learned about effective use of the three elements of the rhetorical triangle to make your argument persuasive. Avoid logical fallacies.

• Gather the support for your claim. Support makes up the grounds for the argument and is sometimes called a minor claim, evidence or data. Support can be made up of self-evident facts, literary examples, statistics, personal experiences, analogy, inference, comparison/contrast, and classification.

• Weigh the reliability of your support. No matter the form of your support, you need to determine how reliable it is. Support must be accurate, relevant and representative. In addition, it must be adequate for your purposes. Accurate support is true and taken from trustworthy sources, quoted exactly and presented without distortions. Relevant support pertains to the argument and is taken from sources with authority on the subject, relates directly to the claim, and is current.

• Connect your support to your claim by outlining the warrants or assumptions of your argument. A warrant is an assumption or premise about the topic that demonstrates why the support you offer for the claim should be accepted. Warrants can be simple statements of reason or complex lines of reasoning. Sometimes a warrant needs to be explained or illustrated or even defended.