Writing With Substance: You Can Haz it! SRSLY!

Identifying and Formulating Claims

In class, we'll talk about the Classical roots of argumentative writing, including the Five Canons of Rhetoric and the basics of Stasis Theory, articulated here, on a site by Andrew Kline, as part of the "invention" stage. 

We'll think about the Stases not just as a means for generating arguments, but as types of claims that you will begin to recognize in everything you read. For instance, you will find articles in which writers work to establish the existence of something; define the nature of that something; evaluate whether it is good or bad; describe its causes or its impact on other things; and argue for a course of action in response or relation to any of the other sorts of claims. 

Here's a list of structures that academic writers rely upon in their work.

After you've reviewed those structures, take a look at this paper (PDF) to see an example of a paper that sets up a basic "road map" of a paper, laying out claims that we can assess in terms of statis theory. It also has sections that are clearly defined by subheadings. It provides a nice example of how to frame a discussion and also exemplifies the strategic use of sub-headings. One caveat: The paper is 55 pages long. Your individually authored papers for this class are much shorter, and your collaborative papers are only 17-18 pages long. You won't have nearly so many "findings" or claims to report in your work as early-career college students, and accordingly, I wouldn't recommend using bullet points to lay them out for readers in this class. Instead, try a more discursive stragegy: "In this paper, we discuss the history of ...; additionally, we consider X and Y and discuss them in relation to Z. After considering X,Y, and Z, we turn to A and B. Finally, we examine A and B. Ultimately, we make the following claims..." or "In light of all of this research, we argue that..."

We call these sorts of statements "rhetorical signposting"; the more of such language you incorporate, the more likely your readers know where to find your papers' claims and what those claims are.

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