• To consider strategies for crafting a persuasive argumentative essay, supported by logical
reasoning and textual evidence
• To reflect on two relevant and pressing cultural issues in American life today
• To read opposing arguments on the same topic, and to evaluate the effectiveness of
various authors’ claims and use of persuasive strategies
• To write a compelling, evidence-based five-paragraph essay on one of two relevant and
pressing cultural issues in American life today
The purpose of this assignment is to apply what we are learning about argumentative and
persuasive writing to a highly relevant, and sometimes divisive, topic in today’s world—either
the ethics of race-based humor and the effects it has on society, or the nature of the so-called
“Cancel Culture” phenomenon and the extent to which it is a force for good or ill in this world.
After reading this document, please visit the Week 5 sub-modules to learn more about these
Throughout the duration of this learning activity, you will encounter arguments that are
likely to both confirm and challenge your own, perhaps deeply held, views. I encourage you to
embrace the discomfort this may cause, viewing it as a good and helpful exercise in critical
thinking and resilience. Keep in mind that wrestling with your opponents’ views is one of the
best strategies for strengthening your own convictions and your ability to argue persuasively
from those convictions.
As an educator, I strongly agree with the following assertion, once made by the former
president of the University of Chicago, Hanna Holborn Gray: “Education should not be
intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make people think.”i Similarly, the authors
of the book The College Writer state, “College is a place where big issues get argued out—in class
and out. To participate in that dialogue, you must be able to read and listen to others’
arguments, analyze them, and build your own” (293). My goal for this assignment is to give you
just this kind of opportunity, and I aim to make it stimulating and engaging as well.
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