English 1010 Unit 4 Stasis Argument Essay Assignment
(last updated 11/8/2017)



The word "stasis" literally means a "slowing down" or a standstill. Similarly, in rhetoric, we use stasis to point to an issue that is controversial and needs more analysis before the argument can move forward, before we feel the argument can come to a solution. Stasis theory can be used to indentify and work through impasses in an argument (places where the sides can't agree). What is the crux of an argument or a difficult to solve dilemma in an argument that everyone has trouble with? What's at stake in your argument (387)? You're going to be doing this for the book The Boys in the Boat. But lets look at an example, and then some initial brainstorming to help clarify this complex assignment using the 4 basic stasis questions:

Lee gave the example of the controversy of Abortion which is a terrible topic for an argument as you'll see below--

  1. What are the facts (especially the ones that are ignored)?
  2. Define terms?
  3. What are the moral issues?
  4. What are the solutions?


Assignment Details

For this essay, you will attempt to understand the complexity of an issue by using stasis theory to interrogate a single issue or controversy in The Boys in the Boat. The goal is to discover the various points at which you could enter one main conversation dealing with a controversy in the book. After analyzing the primary text's main controversy (the one you had more brainstorming and freewriting about), you will then write a well supported argument on one of the many points of contention you discover through the stasis analysis. For this argument, you will use secondary sources from Google or OneSearch to help support or complexify your analysis/argument. This essay will focus primarily on the content of one of the primary text's arguments rather than how the argument is made (so you won't really do a rhetorical analysis with this assignment).

You will need to work through a rich analysis using the following stasis categories:

  1. What are the facts?
  2. How can the issue/controversy be defined?
  3. How much does the issue/controversy matter and why?
  4. What actions should be taken as a result?

Next, based on your interrogation of the issue, pick one of the stasis questions that you had the most disagreement with the author's position. Find at least 5 secondary sources (on Google and OneStop) to write a short, but well-supported argument for your own perspective. Make sure that your argument has a claim and at least three reasons to support it. Use your secondary sources and the book as evidence for your argument.


Style and Format

The format for this essay will follow the above instructions, looking first at the stasis questions regarding your book, and then making an argument using your secondary sources and the book. In terms of style and tone, you will want to keep in mind what our textbook states: "[An] appropriate writing style is one in which your language and the way that you arrange it suits your topic, your purpose, your stance, and your audience.

Requirements: 4-6 double-spaced pages using MLA format. You should have your primary source (the freshperson reading book The Boys in the Boat), and 5-8 other sources from Google and Onesearch. Also, use MLA format, in-text citations, and a final Works Cited page.

Points: 100



Imagine your audience are those most affected or most likely to be interested in this issue. This means that you will have to take into account your rhetorical situation, your stance on the issue, what stasis question you're addressing, and what converns your audience might have with the issue. If you are not a formal speaker, you will not likely use a highly formal style or voice, but this should not be written so informally that your authority comes under fire.

Textbook Help


Prewriting Help

Lee's Journal 6 Brainstorm about 3 Controversies that need More Stasis Analysis in The Boys in the Boat:


Lee's Journal 7 Answering Stasis Questions about one of the controversies above; then choosing the question your disagree with the author the most:

Unit 4 Argument Outline