Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Two interrelated functions

  1. To communicate
  2. To create knowledge

How might well-educated people think?

  • Make decisions carefully and take their time
    • They understand the importance of studying an issue from the many different viewpoints and to gather information about each before rushing into judgement.
  • Carefully explain and support their conclusions for others to scrutinize
    • They understand that their readers won't settle for half-baked judgements or decisions
  • Know that everyone's perspective, including their own limited
    • They practice critical thinking, looking carefully for errors in reasoning.
  • Scholars allow drafting, revision, and peer feedback to reshape their ideas.
  • Though out the writing process, they improve and focus their ideas by,
    • imaging different audiences and purposes
    • finding potential gaps in their arguments.

To develop your writing ability, you only need four things:

  1. knowledge
  2. practice
  3. feedback
  4. motivation

Writing process broken into four parts

  1. Discovery
    • choosing a topic, identifying the right questions to ask, finding and processing outside sources, and organizing ideas
  2. Drafting
    • the first version of a complete draft
  3. Revision
    • adding, deleting, or rearranging chunks of text or content
  4. Editing
    • polishes paragraphs, sentences, formatting, and grammar
  • The more time you invest in drafting, the less time you have to invest in discovery or revision
  • Experience writers don't focus so much on the linear process, but the set priorities when drafting
    • "higher order concerns" like development, focus, and organization
    • "later order concerns" like grammar and formatting

The elements of scholarly arguments

  • They have real purposes based on problems that interest the participants
    • "how should we interpret X?", "What caused Y?", "What should we do about Z?"
  • Scholarly arguments address a specific audience
    • defined as a specialized academic discipline
  • Arguments belong to larger conversations, histories, and contexts that determine the rules for what counts as a good argument
    • scholars must know what methods of reasoning are typical, what is acceptable evidence, and what other scholars have already said about the subject

The Rhetorical Situation

  • Who, what, when, where, why, and how?
  • Who (Author, Audience)?
    • who is the author or publisher of this text?
    • who is the intended audience?
    • what is the intended audience's background and demographics
      • ex: age, gender, income, education, political preferences
  • What and How (Subject Matter, Argument, and Style)?
    • does the argument contain and explicit or implied thesis?
    • how much (and what kind of) background information does the author present?
    • how are the arguments and evidence organized?
    • what kinds of evidence or examples does the argument rely on?
    • how does the text the author's credibility to make such and argument?
    • what kind of tone?
      • serious, funny, sarcastic, scholarly, arrogant, immature
    • what words stick out?
    • what design elements are used
      • informal, playful, ordinary, formal, technical
    • how does the argument use charts, images, or other visual elements?
    • what kind of citation style does the author use?
    • are there footnotes or endnotes?
  • When and Where (Context)?
    • where and when was the text published?
    • If the text is on the Internet, what is its domain?
      • ex: .com, .edu, .org, .net, .gov
  • Why (the Writer's Motivation)
    • what is the author's purpose and motivation?
    • why is this an important topic?

Writing with Purpose

  • Analyze
    • take something apart to see how it works
  • Evaluate or Critique
    • to judge something according to established criteria
  • Interpret
    • to examine something's meaning, implications, or significance


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