Complex Theory

Final Essay 39A Seward—“What makes an audience change their mind?”   Your task in this essay is to develop, present, and defend a well-crafted, complex theory[1] that answers your own narrow version of the course question above, using specific evidence from the course readings/chosen texts, your own work, and “real world” examples for support.   The focus, context[2], evidence, and argument of this essay will be entirely up to you[3], with the exception of a few rules. These are below:   You may not answer the above question directly (it’s too broad for this anyway); in fact, it’s vital for this assignment that you to translate the question into your own words. This will require establishing a narrow context and narrow, specific definitions of your key terms. Specifically, you are encouraged to define “people” (who are they specifically? Where are they? etc.), “change” (what is it specifically? where is it? How does it happen?) and the process of “making people changing their mind” (for the purposes of your argument, what does this mean specifically? Why does it matter?)   Your essay must make an argument about rhetoric, language, and words. Beyond this, the specifics of the focus, context, and argument are up to you. My advice: argue about people changing their mind via rhetoric/language/words in a specifically defined context (for example, as listeners to political speech in 2019 America—still a bit too broad, but on its way)   You must use at least two texts for support. You are welcome to use course readings or outside texts. For our purposes, a text is an example of art/rhetoric that is language-based. If you’re not sure if something you’d like to use is a text, come see me. You are encouraged to use diverse evidence beyond this (it will be hard to make a clear argument without more) and are also encouraged to use “real world” examples: political speech, art that uses writing to persuade (TV, advertisements, op-eds, etc.), writing from outside of the course—the list of possibilities goes on. If you’re not sure   Your essay should be in MLA format; all outside sources (including course readings) should be cited accordingly.   Your essay should be at least 5 pages long in the final version (there is no max page limit)     [1] We’ll discuss this more in the coming weeks, but for the purposes of this essay think of your theory as a claim about how a specific rhetorical process works and why it matters.   [2] Context will continue to be significant in 39B/39C and matters greatly here. For the purposes of our course, we’ll define context using the Google Dictionary definition: “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” As you can see, defining the context in as much detail as possible will be key for developing your theory and argument for this assignment.    [3] You are encouraged to apply any and all techniques from the Three Imitations or the “Consider the _____” Imitation in this assignment. We will also look at model essays in the coming weeks that present and defend narrow theories and use many of the techniques we’ve focused in the last six or so weeks: the use of detail to persuade and control/shift audience perspective; detail to convey emotion; the mixture of personal detail/evidence and more “academic” evidence; strong voice; direct address of audience; use of questions to convey significance; diverse use of evidence; etc. If you’re into a tool not on this list, use it!

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