english: expository vs argumentative

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  • Expository vs. Argumentative Writing

  • What is Expository Writing?Purely informational, objective writingWritten to inform, explain, or describeAuthor assumes the reader has no prior knowledge of the topicUnlike argumentative/persuasive writing, the primary goal of expository writing is to deliver information about the topic, not to persuade the reader

  • Types of Expository WritingDescriptionTopic is described using details, characteristics, features, and examples.SummaryTopic is summarized in your own wordsSequenceItems are listed in a numerical orderComparisonCompare and contrast that explains how various items are alike and/or different

  • Examples of Expository WritingNewspaper articles, journals, textbooks, interviews, studies, letters, memosCNN article:

  • What is Argumentative Writing?Written to persuade the reader to adopt your position, beliefs, or behaviorPurpose is to convince the reader that your opinion is correctAuthor assumes the reader already has prior knowledge of the topicTherefore, do not devote large sections of the essay to simply summarizing the topic, texts, or material.

  • Writing an Argumentative EssayChoose a topic that is:Narrow and focusedContains an argumentCan be adequately supported with evidence (outside sources, statistics, studies, news articles, expert opinion, etc.)

  • Narrow and FocusedMake sure your thesis statement isnt too broad and unfocused.Zero in on a particular aspect of the media or text to discuss in-depthBetter to focus on one aspect in-depth than to try to cover a wide range of issues superficiallyExample:

    Fantasy literature uses a good vs. evil plot. Too general.

    Much of fantasy literature, such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, features an over-simplistic binary of good versus evil, which reduces its characters to one-dimensional didactic devices.Focused on particular books and how a good vs. evil plot has impacted characterization.

  • Contains an ArgumentMake sure your thesis statement takes a clear standAvoid indecisivenessExample:

    Fantasy literature uses a good vs. evil plot, which can be good or bad.Vague and indecisive. What is the position? Which side is supported?

    Much of fantasy literature, such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, features an over-simplistic binary of good versus evil, which reduces its characters to one-dimensional didactic devices.A clear position is stated (against the good vs. evil plot).

  • Contains an ArgumentMake sure your thesis statement takes a clear standAvoid expository writingExample:

    Sam Harris says that there can be a moral truth that science can provide.Merely expository/factual writing that gives the reader information about Harris speechFacts cannot be arguments

    Contrary to Harris assertions, morality cannot be an objective truth. Morality is relative to a persons viewpoint.Takes a clear position of disagreement with Harris claim

  • EvidenceMake sure your thesis statement can be adequately supported with evidence (outside sources, statistics, studies, news articles, expert opinion, etc.)Avoid stating personal feelingsExample:

    I feel that Harry Potter is a boring book to read.Personal feelings cannot be supported with empirical evidence

    Although Harry Potter may be a bestseller, it lacks substance due to flat characterization.Can be substantiated using examples from the books and quotations from literary critics

  • Court RoomArgue like a lawyer presenting a case in a court roomA lawyer would:Take a clear position Ex. Either guilty or not guiltyPresent concrete evidenceEx. DNA samples, studies, witnesses, interviews, etc.A lawyer would NOT:Make an indecisive claim Maybe hes guilty, maybe hes not Im not sure Theres no point in arguingBuild a case entirely on hypothetical scenarios or use examples from his/her personal life as evidenceThe dog must not have bitten the plaintiff, because when I was a child, I had a dog who was so friendly

  • PurposeExpository Used to inform, describe, explain, compare, or summarize in a neutral and objective wayArgumentativeUsed to persuade the reader that your opinion is correctOpinion is clearly stated, rather than appearing neutralExpository = FactsArgumentative = Opinion

  • FocusExpositoryFocused on informationMain point: To tell the reader of the factsConsider: What does the reader need to know about the topic?How can I clearly summarize the topic?ArgumentativeFocused on an opinion, a debatable claimMain point: Convince the reader of the validity of your opinion using concrete evidence (studies, news articles, expert opinion, statistics, etc.)Consider: What real-world examples can I use to support my thesis statement?What experts in the field might agree with me?How can I address and refute the oppositions claims?

  • StructureExpositoryIntroduction: Introduces the reader to the topicBody: Describes, explains, informs, classifies, summarizes, and/or compares various issues regarding the topicConclusion: Reminds the reader of main points and gives sense of closureArgumentativeIntroduction: Leads the reader to your opinion on the topic, which is clearly stated in a thesis statement of 1-3 sentencesBody: Discusses the ways in which external sources (ex. studies, news articles, journals, interviews, etc.) are evidence that support your thesis statement. Refutes opposing arguments, saying why counterarguments are incorrect.Conclusion: Restates overall argument and gives sense of closure. (Do not introduce a new argument.)

  • ArgumentativeExample:Thesis: Sam Harris is correct that morality is objective and all his claims are true.Paper then goes on to summarize Harris speech, inserting quotations from HarrisA weak thesis statement that demonstrates little insight or individual thought, and an overall essay that is highly expository in merely summarizing what Harris has already said.Thesis: As Sam Harris says, science is indeed capable of providing a universal moral truth that is based on the goal of decreasing human suffering, an idea that is supported by scientific findings and contrary to the claims of moral relativists.Paper then goes on to explain why Harris is correct, using scientific studies as evidence that humans share a universal morality and that moral relativism is incorrect.A strong thesis statement that clearly agrees with Harris, addressing the counterargument of moral relativism. Overall essay supports the thesis statement using concrete evidence from external sources. Does not simply repeat Harris claims, since Harris never examines specific scientific studies or moral relativism in-depth.

  • Using Expository WritingWhere to use exposition in an argumentative paperIntroduction:

    J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter series and J. R. R. Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings trilogy are among the bestselling works of fantasy literature. Both series have had wide appeal and been adapted into profitable films. However, much of fantasy literature, such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, features an over-simplistic binary of good versus evil, which reduces its characters to one-dimensional didactic devices.Expository writing is used to introduce the reader to background information about the topic

  • Using Expository WritingWhere to use exposition in an argumentative paperAs supporting evidence in the body of your essay:

    For instance, little insight is given into the internal lives of Tolkiens evil characters, and they become an essentially homogeneous group defined simply by their label as evil. As Hourihan says, Nor is Sauron himself more than a cipher. He has no discernible motivation [] Neither Sauron nor his servants the Orcs provide any insights into the nature of institutionalized or individual evil [] The Lord of the Rings simply reasserts the traditional dualisms (34). Expository writing is used to inform the reader of a critics comments

  • Using Expository WritingMake sure that your argumentative essay is not actually an expository essayExpository writing should be embedded within an overall argumentative frameworkAsk yourself:

    Is my entire essay a compare and contrast?Does the majority of my essay merely summarize the topic?Does my essay only describe the events?If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you have written an expository essay, not an argumentative essay

  • Writing an Argumentative EssayOverall stepsChoose a topicConsider both sides of the topic and take a positionFind evidence to support your positionPlan your essayConsider making an outline to gain a clear picture of how you will structure your essay and how you will incorporate the evidenceWrite your essay

  • TemplateIntroductionThesis statement (clearly stated in 1-3 sentences at the end of the introductory paragraph)BodyMy thesis statement is correct because of [cited quotation/paraphrase from Example #1]. Example #1 supports my thesis statement in the following ways: x, y, zMy thesis statement is correct because of [cited quotation/paraphrase from Example #2]. Example #2 supports my thesis statement in the following ways: x, y, zCounterarguments: Some people do not agree with my thesis statement. For example, [opponent] claims that [cited quotation/paraphrase from opponent]. However, [cited quotation/paraphrase from opponent] is incorrect in the following ways: x, y, zConclusionRe-establishes the main points of your argumentBrings essay to a feeling of closure

  • ChecklistThesis statement:ClearFocusedTakes a position

    Body paragraphs:Thesis statement is supported using external sources (newspaper articles, interviews, studies, statistics, etc.)How these external sources support your thesis statement is clearly articulatedQuotations an

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