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--
- What are the facts (especially the ones that are ignored)?
- General facts are very often debated like when life starts, or when does the fetus feel pain? But scientists have differing views of the facts than the people arguing about abortion.
- yet, is pain or life the real issue?
- Lee sees the arguments as almost completely forgetting the facts of individual difficulty and pain when it comes to family planning or trying not to have a baby, or trying TO have a baby. Women are often very torn about what will work best for them and for the baby and for their futures. Men are also torn about whether they want more of a say in how things are worked out, or not wanting any knowledge which is it's own controversy. These are problems that should get more discussion before all the simplistic arguing.
What are the moral issues?
- all the screaming about Pro Life and Pro Choice. A stasis analysis would want to slow this down and look at the often overlooked details.
What are the solutions?
- people get caught up here since Pro Life people often see abortion as a health and economic choice, and Pro Life people often see the choice being immoral from the start
- even now to the point where contraception is considered a form of abortion by some
- Can we even get to this yet?
- The court case Roe v. Wade decided things constitutionally in 1973, so in many ways we have a solution already.
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:
- What are the facts?
How can the issue/controversy be defined?
- What happened, according to the book, to make these issues or controversies debatable?
- What caused this issue to manifest or what factors existed in order to bring this issue to our attention?
- Do these "facts" stack up, in your opinion, or could some of them be questioned by others? Which ones and why?
- Do others have a differing opinion about what exactly happened to cause this issue or controversy to surface? Make sure to explain your answers.
How much does the issue/controversy matter and why?
- How does the book define the issue or controversy?
- Are there certain terms, parts, or categories that help define this issue or controversy for the author?
- What are they and how are they defined?
- Do these definitions help or hurt your understanding of the issue/controversy?
- Would you define the issue/controversy or parts of the issue differently?
- If so, what terms, conditions, or criteria would you use to redefine this issue? Make sure to explain your answers.
What actions should be taken as a result?
- How serious is the issue/controversy according to the author?
- Are there any moral or ethical consequences related to this issue?
- Does the author propose immediate action be taken, or does the issue revolve around an understanding of the issue?
- What are the consequences if we don't act?
- How serious are these consequences? Do you agree with the importance or seriousness of this issue/controversy? Do you feel there are any additional or missing moral or ethical implications? Make sure to explain your answers.
- What is currently being done to affect the issue?
- What does the author feel is working or not working about this current action?
- Does the author argue for a specific change in action or policy?
- What does the author feel we or others should do?
- How might oth3ers disagree with these proposed actions?
- Do you agree with the author's proposed actions? If so, would you change any aspect of how or what needs to be done?
- If you don't agree with the author's proposed actions, what alternative actions could we take?
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.
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.
- "Find a Topic that Interests You," pp. 446-447
- Analysis ch. 13
- p. 206--a question that seems to have no easy right or wrong answer
- Argument Analysis ch. 17
- Argument Support ch. 18
- "Writing a Review" ch. 15--we've covered this
- "Writing in Multiple Modes," pp. 762-779 (essays in case we want other choices, but this assignment should use Boys in the Boat)
Lee's Journal 6 Brainstorm about 3 Controversies that need More Stasis Analysis in The Boys in the Boat:
- Joe's daughter describes his dilemma: is he a victim, or is he a survivor? (From The Boys of '36 documentary, at 8:19)
- Americans love a rags to riches story--no one is a victim in these kinds of stories (a story that invigorates much discussion about capitalism and how to be successful in America)--always pitfalls that get in the way (and each could be seen as a controversy needing slower analysis before I can make a clear argument.
- socioeconomic limitations are often the issues or problems that get in the way of people being able to succeed
- if you start in poverty, lifting yourself up by the bootstraps like a good capitalist story often depicts, is assumed to be possible, but most people simply can't lift themselves up by themselves
- Joe comes from a broken family--his father kicks him out at 10 because his step mother doesn't want him around
- he always has to worry about how he's going to survive than how he would succeed
- one student asks where these women are coming from--she has a different definition of family, a different societal contract
- why do I think there is a social contract about how families are supposed to be when so many families aren't
- Joe's age certainly is a strike against him succeeding
- in video shows strong, young men hefting logs
- If joe has to work to survive education suffers--he lived with his brother
- Americans like to think that successful men, women, do it themselves, but there is often help to succeed--to eat, to get into college, to become a rower; he gains friends who work with him on the damn help him stay positive?
- Lee's Family Similarities: my father's mother died when he was 13 and spoke no english--his stepmom also kicked him out (and kicked out his younger brothers)
- my dad got help from his hands-on sister who was not at all afraid of hitting or spanking
- his younger brothers were suddenly sent to my Uncle Jesse, who raised them
- my own upper middle class family never suffered from lack of anything
- Americans also love coming of age stories--and Americans like happy endings
- i like that Joe ends up with a good, middle class life; but I know some people go downhill after their Olympic bids...I wonder which is the more common story?
- I'm always obsessed with Nazi history, as well as Olympic history
- why do certain cities get the olympics? What is the benefit of hosting the olympics?
- Often it's because they want to seem progressive and show off their modern capabilities
- the documentary I watched about olympic doping was fascinating...that's a more modern problem, but what are the olympic controversies in 1936?
- obviously that a brutal dictator was hosting the olympics to show how superior white aryan people were
- we embrace Jesse Owens winning the sprint etc. but Owens would only go back home to be called "nigger" yet again
- the place in the book where they say the Nazi's sanitized their anti-semitic signage on the streets by removing them...what a false portrayal, full of propaganda which is a subject I love to think and write about
- one man's propaganda is another's ad campaign...is another's work of art (Leni Reifensthal's Olympia, the beautiful black and white fantasy Olympics)--when I saw the documentary about her, I felt so torn because she really is a beautiful film maker, but she's obviously a Nazi sympathizer at the least--what do we do when artists we admire align themselves with killers?
- of course, the other way to think about the cleansing of the streets
- think about how Russia cleaned their streets of homeless people and dogs for the Sochi Olympics--arrests, gun shots
- but doesn't America swim in propaganda too?
- look at current tax issues with huge American corporations like Apple--Tim Cook swore to congress Apple didn't have offshore tax avoidance bank accounts, but then he moved his money out of the US--now Apple has 200 billion off shore that is just sitting there because they are too cheap or unpatriotic? to bring it back to the US
Lee's Journal 7 Answering Stasis Questions about one of the controversies above; then choosing the question your disagree with the author the most:
- After Journal 6 (brainstorming about controversies in the book), do Journal 7: Brainstorm/Freewrite answers to all/favorite Stasis Questions based on the controversies from Boys in the Boat
- Choose your favorite question with no easy answers
- Find sources on multiple sides of the controversy that provide more evidence, or more thoughts about the controversy
- Make notes of where evidence is located in Boys in the Boat book
- Using all these sources, come up with an Argument claim and 3-5 because statements or reasons that will expand on and support your claim
Unit 4 Argument Outline
- Intro--context, excitement, controversy
- Claim--the argument focus
- Because Statements
- Reason #1 for believing the claim
- Reason #2
- Reason #3
- Reason #4
- Reason #5
- Because Statement 1