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The Heart of John Gage's The Shape of Reason:


This 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 (8).

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: 144-60).

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 is rethinking through your argument and improving it.

 

 

 

 
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