page provides you with a quick overview of John Gage's
The Shape of Reason
. For students in WR 121, you
can use the sheet as a guideline and checklist to make
sure you are absorbing this material from the text. For
students in WR 122 or WR 123, you can use this sheet as
a review, or if you have not had WR 121 at this university,
you can read the page numbers listed after each entry.
A Discourse Community is a community
in which a group of people attempts to achieve cooperation
and assert their individuality through language. They
share a common interest in answering a question important
to each individual in the discourse community. The university
and the classroom itself are examples of such communities
Argument as Inquiry is the active
search for questions and honest answers to those questions,
rather than "winning" the argument for the sake of winning.
It involves openly putting one's ideas on the table with
everyone else's, and a willingness to change your beliefs
if someone presents good reasons to do so.
A Thesis is an idea, stated as an
assertion, that represents a reasoned response to a question
at issue, and it can serve as the central idea of a composition.
By its very nature, the thesis is an argument (kinds of
questions: 59; testing a thesis: 69).
An Enthymeme is a specific type of
thesis. It involves two clauses connected by a subordinate
conjunction. One clause asserts the author's opinion,
and the other clause provides a reason to support the
assertion. Most enthymemes will have the following open
form: Assertion A (thesis) because (subordinate
conjunction) Assertion 2 ·(reason). The enthymeme
functions well in a composition because it provides both
the author's purpose and direction for the paper (Enthymeme:
A Reason is an idea that functions
to support another idea. It answers the implicit question,
"why," or "so what?" (Kinds of appeal: 107).
Argumentative Writing is a process
of reasonable inquiry into the best grounds for agreement
between a writer and an audience who have a mutual concern
to answer a question at issue. Writing in an academic
community is largely a process of finding and structuring
reasons that provide these grounds. A well-thought-out
enthymeme links the writer's reasoning to the assumptions,
beliefs, and values shared with an audience. It also provides
a way of envisioning the potential parts of an essay and
the connections among them.
Form is generated by reasoning. One
need not rely on model forms like a five-paragraph theme
to find the shape of one's essay, but rather on what logically
needs to come next in an argument.
Style is like logic in that clarity
and effectiveness depend not only on what is said but
also on how different ways of writing may themselves appeal
to certain readers. Style is a matter of finding an appropriate
way of writing for a given audience.
Revising is rethinking.
Not editing. Not proofreading. Not correcting typos. It
through your argument and improving it.