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Dietel-McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Spring 2013

Essay #3: Causal Analysis

Overview/Requirements Why do people love rollercoasters? Why do teenagers rebel? Why are more parents home-schooling their children? You no doubt have asked yourself similar questions after observing trends and phenomena in our culture. In this essay, you will choose a humor-related trend or phenomenon that intrigues you and will then speculate about what factors might have caused/be causing it. This assignment will utilize many familiar writing elements weve discussed this term--a debatable thesis, reasoning, evidence, and recognition of counterarguments, for example but this essay will introduce you the more sophisticated realm of causal analysis. This essay will also give you the opportunity to conduct your own, independent research in support of your argument and to practice synthesizing source material in support of claims. Your completed essay should do the following: 1) Identify your chosen trend or phenomenon, and demonstrate its existence to your audience. 2) Speculate about possible causes for the trend/phenomenon. Of the several possible causes you identify, try to choose one that seems the most plausible (or somehow the most important to your argument) and devote most of your discussion to illustrating the reasons for that causes significance. 3) Develop your argument with sufficient evidence and reasoning, using at least 3 sources (not read in class) to assist you. 4) Synthesize quotes and other evidence in support of claims. 5) Address and refute/accept alternative causes and possible counterarguments to your position. 6) Arrange your discussion of possible causes in a logical order. Clear and effective organization will be crucial in this essay. 7) Adhere to length and format guidelines. Your final draft should be 5-6 polished pages in length, using MLA format. Remember: much of this essay will be speculative: you are essentially making wellresearched, well-reasoned, and persuasively argued guesses. The goal here is not to report on what has been scientifically proven (e.g., the causes of colds). Instead, think about cultural tendencies whose social, economic, psychological, and other causal links are more difficult to illustrate. For example: What factors might be contributing to the popularity of sites like Why have fewer women historically pursued careers in comedy than men? (phenomenon) Why are more women now pursuing careers in comedy? (trend) Why is political comedy often described as being inherently leftist? Why has slapstick comedy remained popular in virtually every time period since the Renaissance? What factors led to the end of the court jester tradition in France? Why are fake news outlets so popular?

Dietel-McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Spring 2013

Common Problems to Avoid
Choosing an overly debated topic, with all causes previously suggested or known Suggesting causes that are not probable or even possible Exploring only one possible cause rather than presenting and comparing the probability of several possible causes Presenting several causes, but not making clear which cause is most probable/interesting/important Presenting an underdeveloped topic Organizing the essay illogically or incompletely Failing to address audience objections, questions, or reservations Lacking an overall point throughout the essay

Questions? Comments? Concerns? As always, feel free to send me an e-mail, make an appointment or stop by my office during my office hours. Dont forget the Writing Center!

DUE: FRIDAY, 3/22, BY 11:55 p.m. (via Sakai)