Sheila McMullin: Writing, Editing, Community

Why I Am an Argument Series

One of the hardest things to teach in Composition 101 English courses is the argument. Actually, that is probably one of the hardest things to teach in general: the nuances of research, the validity of the opposing opinion, the supporting claims, and independent, yet academic voice.

To introduce my 101 students to the Everything’s an Argument Unit, I asked them to write a series of short writings (about 300 words each) on what they know best—themselves. Extending over a week, part one included the ever-so famous visual rhetorical assignment based on an advertisement found in a magazine or online. Students brought these ads to class, discussed the message, effectiveness, not so effectiveness, of the ad while using keys terms such as ethos, logos, pathos.

Part two is where it started to get interesting. I asked the students to find a photograph of themselves which proves an important point about what they stand for. I asked them to start thinking about how what they stand for is a type of argument. I asked them to think about how they are an argument. This was not easy and I got a lot of moaning and groaning, but today I would like to share with you one of the Why I am an Argument statements that completely reaffirmed why I believed this assignment to be important in the first place. Although it was tough, the students were courageous in being so open and vulnerable during this writing process. I applaud them all.

To read Why I am an Argument essays by my students, visit the links below at

From Ashley Aniton, GMU freshman, entitled “I am not who I should be, I am who I am.

From 1st year college student, Estephanie, who speaks honestly about her experiences of being a student, a kid, a woman, and Hispanic in America in her essay titled “Managing to do both Great in School and Work.”

A joyful piece by undergraduate Summer Shepherd that highlights the notion that arguments are not always about proving someone wrong or fighting to be right, titled “An Uplifting Argument.”

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2012 by in 1st Appeared on So to Speak blog.

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