Considering Another Side Essay Materials

Essay Prompt

Essay #1: Considering Another Side

Length: 4-5 pages, double-spaced
Sources: 8-10 sources (Cited and Consulted combined)

A fully developed argument in academic writing includes many voices and ideas: those of the author, of the researchers consulted, and of those who disagree with the author. In writing such an argument, it is an intelligent rhetorical decision to fully understand the ideas even of those with whom you disagree. There is a tactical reason: understanding the arguments and evidence of the opposition allows you to refute them with assurance or find a compromise. But there is also a different kind of ethical reason: giving consideration to your opponent enriches your own ideas, helps you to fully understand an issue, and shows you to be a thoughtful rhetor. In fact, Rogerian argumentation does exactly this: You fully appreciate and even integrate another point of view. In this paper, you will take up the ideas and arguments of your opposition in order to develop facility in argument for both of these reasons.

How to proceed
At this point in your research process, you have researched a topic and narrowed down your focus to a single academic issue within the larger topic. In your final paper, you will articulate an argument about that specific issue. This paper is a step toward that final paper. You will take up the argument, evidence, and support of a position that you do not necessarily support; it may be the opposite of what you argue, or it may be an argument you think has less value than the one you wish to make. (Consider other stases.)

Once you select your argument and then the oppositional argument you will pursue, your research should investigate the ideas of the opposition. You need to fully understand the ideas of this opposition, to “walk a mile in the shoes” of their ideas, as it were. Understand the values that underlie the argument as well as the research and evidence.

Writing the paper
Not only will you consider the other side in this paper, but you will inhabit it and write it. You might consider this a kind of ventriloquism or just another kind of persona. You may choose to create an actual person to be the “ author” of the paper, or you may just write it “as yourself.” In either case, it will be a fully developed argument. That means you will create exigence, have strong support, use an organization that has rhetorical effect, and come to a strong conclusion. You may choose to refute here, and in that case you would be refuting the ideas you actually agree with. But be sure that you have a great deal of positive support for this position — that is the way to fully engage and understand this perspective.

Audience analysis
Your audience for this paper is the academic community of other inquirers; to be more specific, it should be academics in a particular field or other academic situation, others who are also trying to determine what an engaging argument might be. As you write, you should think about this audience, how to engage them, how to create exigence for your ideas. You should also remember to write with readers in mind rather than just writing for yourself; this is an idea we will explore with the draft workshop for this paper.


Sample Topics

Here are some topics that students in past classes have used for this type of assignment.Some students later narrowed down a particular topic to use it as their research topic for the rest of the semester:

  • Stereotypes about Africa perpetuated by US educational system
  • School uniforms and bullying
  • Student-faculty relationships
  • Funding fine arts programs
  • Evolving definition of feminism as seen in pop culture
  • Stricter penalties for domestic violence and sex-based crimes
  • The differences in the ecological mindset of Germans and Americans as represented by their cars
  • Same-sex vs. mixed-gender education
  • Genetic modification of food
  • Multiculturalism in the American educational system
  • Stereotypes of Asian students as geniuses
  • Sexism in the workplace in Latin America (later narrowed down to relationship of sexism to underdevelopment)
  • Opportunities for amateur sports in Europe and America
  • School tracking
  • Sunday hunting laws
  • Offering Anime as a course at TCC
  • McDonaldization
  • Images of beauty in the media and African American women (later narrowed down to the issue of skin bleaching)
  • SAT tests
  • Stereotypes due to accents
  • Defining and punishing cyberbullying
  • Drug testing of low-wage workers or high school students
  • Net neutrality
  • Overhauling food stamp programs
  • Lowering textbook prices and OERs
  • Offensive sports team names (Redskins, Indians)
  • Teaching evolution versus creation science or intelligent design
  • The effects of advertising on childhood obesity
  • Hiring practices based on appearance (such as Abercrombie and Fitch’s policy)
  • Racial self-segregation in high school lunchrooms
  • Effects of pornography on sex standards
  • Improving the efficiency of recycling programs
  • Culture of “whiteness”
  • Corporal punishment and cultural practices
  • The benefits of computer games
  • Legality of immigrants and college admissions
  • Parental spying and mobile phones
  • Texting and driving
  • The challenges faced by first-generation college students
  • Metal detectors and other security measures in high schools
  • The deterioration of the coastal environment
  • Improving parking at TCC

This list is not meant to provide you with a list of topics to choose from; rather, use this list to think about the kinds of topics that students write about that relate to larger issues. The most successful papers tend to come out of topics that are more original to the student writing the paper.

Sample Audience Analyses

Sample Audience Analyses (.docx file)


Sample Essay

Massage Sample Essay (.docx file)


Interview Component

Making your own source
One way to help join the academic conversation about your issue and insert your oar into the debate is to show how informed you are of the topic by interviewing or surveying others who you feel are credible sources. Creating a source is a great way to build your own ethos and become a qualified speaker on the issue. You will incorporate one source in Essays #1 and #2 that is based on an interview with an academic or professional in the field whose voice will help shape the context of the debate.

I would like for you to contact one or more qualified academics or professionals on your subject and briefly interview him or her to add to your essay research.
The questions you ask should be open-ended rather than closed to allow for more in-depth answers. However, you can ask closed questions if you feel it will add to the context.
Contact your source early so that you have time to set up the interview/survey and transcribe it. Limit yourself to 5-10 minutes of interview so that you do not have too much material.