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Assignment #1: Analyzing an Argument




One Page Draft Due: September 19

Two Page Draft Due: September 23

Final Draft Due: October 3

Page Requirement: 5-6 pages


In “Public Thinking,” Clive Thompson considers the role of social media, particularly blogging, in changing the way we create, share, and think about arguments in civic discourse. In this essay, you will be identifying important features of Thompson’s argument and evaluating the extent to which those features help him persuade his audience to accept the argument’s central claim. Your essay should be in the 5-6 page range and engage in the following work:

First, describe Thompson’s argument, including what you see as his central claim and the most important or interesting subclaims leading up to that larger idea, explaining the reasoning in the text that connects those subclaims to the central claim. Second, you will also identify and analyze three different types of evidence, which Thompson uses, that are connected to three separate subclaims. Evaluate both the strength and weakness of each particular piece of evidence in the context of the subclaim it supports and the argument as a whole.

Third, you should analyze the way in which Thompson uses two different techniques to develop and/or organize his text and evaluate the extent to which those methods help guide the reader’s understanding of the argument and persuade the reader to accept Thompson’s argument. These methods of development might include: establishing significance, answering possible objections, responding to the larger conversation, uses of metadiscourse and transitions, etc.

In this paper, you will do the following:

  • Introduce the topic and its significance; Thompson’s project, text, and central claim; and your own clear thesis and project statement.

  • Put forward evaluative claims of your own, use textual evidence for support, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Thompson’s evidence.

  • Use the language of argument in your analysis and evaluation: central claim, subclaims, types of evidence, etc.

  • Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of Thompson’s methods of development.

  • Conclude with an evaluation of Thompson’s overall argument and its significance.


  • 5 to 6 pages (although longer is acceptable)

  • MLA format and citation

  • Works Cited page (MLA format)


Successful papers will achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Describe, analyze, and evaluate an author’s argument, claims, project, support and rhetorical strategies.

  • Analyze and assess the relative strengths of an argument and supporting evidence.

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