The Basics • Introduction • I will show x, y and z. • X • Y • Z • Conclusion • I have shown x, y and z.
What I Need to Know • Your claim • Why you are making the claim • What evidence you have to support your claim • Why you are using that evidence • Why your argument is better than counter-arguments
Example • Many people believe that Kanye West is the best American rapper (claim). I will demonstrate that assertion is correct by considering record sales, analysis by music critics and his continuing influence on the music industry (evidence for claim).
They Say, I Say Effective writing does not only make claims (I say), it maps these claims against the claims of others (they say). It’s a conversation.
They Say • Establish a reason for making the claim • Contemporary social science tends to believe ___. • Many philosophical perspectives begin with the assumption that _____. • Summarise positions • X asserts/argues/demonstrates/objects/celebrates emphasizes/concedes/believes/asserts/shows/ reminds us/refutes/reports/observes
They Say (cont.) • Back up ‘they say’ claims with quotations for key points. • Provide citations for secondary points
I Say • Transition by agreeing/disagreeing/both • Many x claim _____. This position is clearly justified, by ____, _____ and ______. • Many x claim _____. A deeper investigation of this position, however, reveals ________, ______ and _____. • Many x claim _____. While they are correct to argue _____ and _____ further consideration reveals ______ and ______.
I Say (cont.) • Whereas X provides evidence that ____, Y and Z’s research on _____ and ____ convinces me that ______ instead.
Example • Many music critics assert that Kanye West is the best American rapper (they say). I will demonstrate that assertion is correct by considering record sales, analysis by music critics and his continuing influence on the music industry (I say).
Examining the US hip-hop charts for the past decade reveals Kanye West’s consistent ability to appeal to a wide ranging audience…. • Evidence might include stories from music industry periodicals, statistics from Billboard, etc. • Many who assert Kanye’s superiority appeal to these statistics [2 or 3 citations]
Transition! • While these statistics place Kanye in the upper echelons of rap, they do not provide sufficient evidence that he is the best. For instance, following the release of Watch the Throne, his album sales were quickly dwarfed by Lil Wayne’s Carter IV, an album widely panned by critics [citation]. This example shows that commercial viability, while important, is not enough to establish artistic greatness. To deepen our evaluation of Kanye, it is thus necessary to consider the critical reception of his work.
Entertain Objections • Some critics argue Kanye’s success is solely commercial, arguing that his albums are sonically cluttered and vacuous [citation]. While these criticism rightly highlight the diverse range of samples and production styles found in his music, they miss the way in which Kanye strategically deploys these resources in order to address the contemporary American zeitgeist.
Last bits of advice • Clear, concise claims supported by appropriate evidence • Start with an outline • Read your essay aloud • Look at the assessment criteria
Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Persuasive Writing (New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 2007).