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ENG4U1 Nonfiction 1

Page history last edited by Sheridan Hay 13 years, 10 months ago

Editorials, Ideas, and the Argumentative Essay


In this section, we will read, listen to, and analyse a variety of non-fiction pieces, including essays and editorials,  We will also explore the argumentative essay form and write one short argumentative essay on a topic of your choice that will produced as a podcast. 


Assignment One:  Breaking Down the Argument

You will find a number of text and audio pieces that forward an argument below.  Your assignment is to provide an oral outline of the main arguments for one of the written essays and one of the editorials, and a brief written summary of the main arguments for one of the oral essays or ideas presented on video. NOTE:  For this semester, you do not need to listen to the audio essays, only the IDEAS essays.  Each answer should include a statement of the thesis, the main supporting arguments and how those arguments are backed up (e.g. what kind of evidence is used - statistics, documents, etc.).  I would recommend that you read at least two from each group to get a better idea of essay structure.  I have included a sample below.


sample argument to be posted


Sample Essays


To read...

"Thoughts on Education" by Susanna Moodie (see handout)

"Blue Gold" by Jim Hightower (see handout)

"Get Beyond Babel" by Ken Wiwa (see handout)

"Wanderers by Choice" by Eva Hoffman (see handout)



To listen to...  (ignore these for this semester)


Jeff Rubin, economist, on the economic recession and oil


Maude Barlow, author and activist



Wendell Berry, environmentalist, on the environment



Naomi Klein, author and activist


Sample Editorials


"GIant Database Is Ripe for Abuse"  Edmonton Journal

Editorials from the Toronto Star

Editorials from the Globe and Mail

Editorials from the New York Times


Ideas... (listen to these)




Warning!  This one is not for the squeamish!



The language here might be considered offensive.  Given the context, it is well placed and effective in the message being presented.  It is also very humorous.



Assignment Two:  Introducing the argumentative essay (not assigned this semester)


An argumentative essay presents a claim (an opinion) supported by reasoning and evidence, which persuades your reader that the thesis your paper advances is a valid one.


The Argumentative Essay According to Purdue University...


The pieces that you read and listened to in the last assignment are all examples of argumentative essays.  Choosing a subject of interest to you, your task is to write an argumentative essay.  The essay should be between two and three pages (600-800 words).  You are welcome to choose a theme or subject from the course readings.  The argument will then be produced as a podcast, similar to the ones assigned in the previous assignment.


The rubric for the essay can be found here.

The rubric for the podcast can be found here.

You will be completing an argumentative essay for Hamlet, so, in the interest of time, you will not be completing a second argumentative essay.  However, it should also be completed as a podcast.


Assignment Three:  Political Cartoons:  Drawing Out Your Argument (not assigned this semester)

Just as every political cartoon contains an opinion, almost all have an expiry date.  If one is not aware of the context (the events and issues surrounding the cartoon), it can be very difficult to understand its message.  While some political cartoons can be quite timeless, most are based on the main news stories of the day.  Every political cartoon has (i) a message (ii) an opinion and (iii) a picture (text, not always), and the meaning is not usually explicit - it is implied.


Choosing one of the images below, explain what you think the cartoonist is trying to say and why you think so.  There is an example below:




Since the 2008 election, Stephen Harper has asked for Parliament to be prorogued twice - a practice virtually unheard of in the past and never for so clearly poltical purposes.  The cartoonist suggests that Harper is seeking any excuse to prorogue (suspend) Parliament and might possibly create circumstances - such as a plane flying too close to Parliament Hill - to do so.   I make these assumptions because of what I see in the drawing.  The idea that Harper is forming as he watches the television is about how he can create one more reason for Parliament to be suspended, although there is no mention of why he would want to do that.  The message is that Harper is using this power too liberally and should be more prudent in exercising his powers and, consequently, one could assume that the cartoonist opposed the recent proroguement of Parliament.


Monday, May 31, 2010 (Globe and Mail)



Tuesday, June 1, 2010 (Globe and Mail)






The rubric for the editorial cartoon can be found here

There will not be an assignment to create a poltical cartoon this semester.

back to Telling the Story... 




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