WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Op-Ed Essay

Your choices:

  • Compose a persuasive 750-word Op-Ed essay based on your Contextual Analysis research
  • Compose a persuasive Op-Ed essay on a issue other than your Contextual Analysis, based on issues raised in class discussions: immigration, sexual assault, privilege, empathy, critical thinking, the purpose of college, Nigerian schoolgirls; check with me if you’d like to write about something other than your contextual-analysis issue
  • Compose a three-to-five minute video based on an issue related to your Contextual Analysis research or based on issues raised in class discussions
  • Remix the New York Times

You will notice that these choices have different purposes, aims, and expectations. The Op-Ed essay, for example, is the most straightforward, as we will be practicing making a claim and then supporting that claim — recall that that is our working definition of “argument.”

9a Arguing for a purpose — page 186

To win
The most traditional purpose of academic argument, arguing to win, is used in campus debating societies, in political debates, in trials, and often in business. The writer or speaker aims to present a position that prevails over or defeats the positions of others.

To convince and persuade
More often than not, out-and-out defeat of another is not only unrealistic but also undesirable. Rather, the goal is to convince other persons that they should change their minds about an issue.

To reach a decision or explore an issue
Often, a writer must enter into conversation with others and collaborate in seeking the best possible understanding of a problem, exploring all possible approaches and choosing the best alternative.

To change yourself
Sometimes you will find yourself arguing primarily with yourself, and those arguments often take the form of intense meditations on a theme, or even of prayer. In such cases, you may be hoping to transform something in yourself or to reach peace of mind on a troubling subject.

Rhetoric & Identification

Something to consider as we think about our Op-Ed essays this week: “A speaker persuades an audience by the use of stylistic identifications; the act of persuasion may be for the purpose of causing the audience to identify itself with the speaker’s interests; and the speaker draws on identification of interests to establish rapport between herself or himself and the audience.” — Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives.

Identification, Burke reminds us, occurs when people share some principle in common — that is, when they establish common ground. Persuasion should not begin with absolute confrontation and separation but with the establishment of common ground, from which differences can be worked out. Imagining common ground is the point of our work with stasis and with exigency.

Append to the bottom of your finished Op-Ed — briefly and informally is fine:

  • What was your major claim? How did you support it?
  • What moves did you make to invite readers to identify with your interests and values?

If you are composing a remix of the NYT

Multimodal/remix workshop notes:

What we’re trying to get at here are the differences — real, imagined, potential — between text-based essays and multimodal (video, sound, gesture, collage/montage, etc.) compositions. 

  • the product(s) that you will formulate 
  • the operations, processes, or methodologies that will be (or could be) employed in generating that product
  • the resources, materials, and technologies that will be (or could be) employed in the generation of that product
  • the specific conditions in, under, or with which the final product will be experienced–this involves determining or otherwise structuring the delivery, reception, and/or circulation of your final product.