48 Reading #1: Definition Argument Essay

The Unit 2 essay is a Definition Argument essay. You will be drafting and revising this essay in Module 6. Here are the instructions for that essay.

Step 1 – Choose Your Prompt

Definition Word Dictionary Text“. By PDPics. CC-0.

When we analyze arguments, we often encounter people using the same words, but meaning different things. Varying definitions of terms or concepts often lie at the heart of important arguments. Sometimes people use words incorrectly; other times they hide nasty ideas behind pleasant or non-offensive terms. Words mean different things in different cultures and change meaning in context.

For the Essay 2 assignment, choose one of the prompts, conduct research, and argue why we should choose a particular definition or use one term over another. If you would like to write about something other than what is provided here, please run your idea by your instructor.

Prompt 1

Is cheerleading a sport? How about skateboarding? What about a video game, such as League of Legends? For this topic, choose an activity that some people consider a sport and argue whether or not that activity counts as a sport.

Prompt 2

Many fans of independent music are saddened when their favorite musicians sign to major record labels, appear on radio or TV, or become widely popular. They call these musicians “sell-outs.” What is a sell-out? Should musicians “sell out”?

Prompt 3

Cult films have been around for a long time, but what exactly makes a film a cult film? Define what the term “cult” means in reference to films and use a film as an example to support the criteria that make up your definition.

Prompt 4

As scientists continue to study animals, it becomes more and more likely that human beings are not the only animals to speak, think, and feel. Some animals, like dolphins and orca whales, have complex languages, evidence of culture, and even self-awareness. Some people propose designating dolphins and other advanced animals as “non-human people” and giving them rights similar to those we recognize for humans. What makes someone, or something, a person? Could a dolphin meet the criteria? How about a whale? Dog? Gorilla? Do some research and argue whether or not an animal fits the category “person.”

Prompt 5

Each of the readings in Unit 2 defines a term to make an argument. Clinton defines women’s rights, Wiesel discusses indifference, and Emerson elaborates on self-reliance. This final prompt is more open-ended; to write your essay, choose a term or concept you believe is essential to maintaining a free, just, and ethical society, do some research, and write an essay that makes an definition or evaluation argument to explain why that term or concept is so important.

Step 2 – Understand the Essay Requirements

The assignment requirements are:

  1. Write a three page (or longer) essay
  2. Provide a clear thesis that argues about a definition or performs a categorical evaluation.
  3. Use MLA format (Size 12 Times New Roman font, double spaced, heading ,etc.)
  4. Provide three or more criteria that define the term or category
  5. Use three convincing sources, quoted and cited in the paper and listed in a Works Cited list
  6. Use clear and interesting writing
  7. Present your ideas in an organized manner


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