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Review provided resources then compose two Introductions for your Researched Argumentative Essay. 3 paragraphs. 250 words. 

Twenty-One Commonly Committed Fallacies

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Adapted from Lindsey Wilson College’s Writing Center

1. Ad hominem

This trick, literally translated as “to the man,” subtly or overtly distorts a person’s character, destroying

their credibility no matter how valid their argument is. “I was surprised you agreed with her. She’s kind

of an extremist.”

2. Faulty use of authority

Traditionally called Argumentum ad Verecundiam or Appeal to Authority. “It’s the brand Oprah uses.”

People often listen to someone famous or powerful, even to a celebrity who has no connection with

what’s being endorsed.

3. Appeal to fear

This trick causes your audience to fear others and seek your protection. “Politician X will take away your

freedom of speech!”

4. Appeal to pity (or sympathy)

“I know I made a poor decision. But let’s just look at how hard my job is.” This allows manipulators to

avoid responsibility for something.

5. Appeal to popular passions

Traditionally called Argumentum ad Populum. This trick implies that the manipulator shares the same

views as the audience. “I know you’ll all agree with this, ladies and gentlemen.”

6. Begging the question

Traditionally called Petitio Principii, this fallacy leans on an argument that may not be true in the first

place. “I avoid those meetings; I don’t want to be brainwashed.”

7. Disinformation

Manipulators know that merely launching a rumor is sometimes enough to discredit a person. “Well I

don’t know for sure whether she votes that way, but she does hang out with people who do.”

8. False dilemma, False dichotomy (either/or)

“Either you agree with me or you hate me.” A false dilemma assumes that only two options exist.

9. False analogy

“All I did was take a candy bar. Stop looking at me as if I started a war.” This trick uses misleading

comparisons to make the arguer seem right.

10. Faulty statistics This involves manipulating numbers or quoting statistics from questionable sources

to gain the perception of validity. “A clinical study showed kids who had a filling breakfast of cereal X

improved their attentiveness by nearly 20 percent!” What we’re not told, however, is that this

unpublished study was funded by the company that makes cereal X, and that the attentiveness of the

kids who ate the cereal was measured against that of kids given nothing but water.

Twenty-One Commonly Committed Fallacies

Adapted from Lindsey Wilson College’s Writing Center

11. Hasty generalization

This means rushing to conclusions based on incomplete information. “The traditional family is not a safe

and viable foundation for society. After all, consider the Menendez brothers, Lorena Bobbitt, and other

prominent cases we read about in the media involving violence in the traditional family.”

12. Ignoring the evidence

Traditionally called apiorism. We often ignore things we don’t want to consider for fear they will

produce more work or further confusion. “Well, I don’t care why she did it. It was wrong.”

13. Loaded label or definition

Loaded labels or definitions use words that evaluate or have different connotations. Those who oppose

the “estate tax” have relabeled it the “death tax” in order to give it negative connotations without any

markers of class or wealth. This also works the other way, in case the trickster is defending questionable

actions. “That’s crazy. Mike cheats all the time without getting punished, and you’re hanging me out to

dry after messing up once.”

14. Non sequitur

Translated as “it does not follow,” non sequitur refers to any claim that doesn’t follow from its premises

or is supported by irrelevant premises. “I should not receive a C in this course; I never get Cs.”

15. Poisoning the well

Arguers poison the well by discrediting an opponent or opposing view in advance. “Hector’s book, due

out next February, is nothing but a lame attempt to stir up business for the organization she chairs.”

16. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

Meaning “after this, therefore because of this,” this fallacy happens when a sequential relationship is

mistaken for a causal relationship. “Cramming for a test really helps; I crammed for my psychology test

and got an A.”

17. Red herring A red herring is an emotionally charged issue brought up to divert attention from

something the manipulator wants to avoid. “You asked me why the unemployment rate has risen again,

but I’ll tell you what’s affecting this country’s morale in even worse ways than that.”

18. Shifting the burden of proof (fallacy of ignorance)

Manipulators know that having to prove an argument true makes their job more difficult; so they try to

shift that burden to their opponent. “You say she didn’t do it. But there is no hard evidence to support

that idea.”

19. Slippery slope

This implies that the end result of today’s actions could be something terrible. “If I give you a raise, then

I have to give everyone a raise, and then the company will go bankrupt.”

Twenty-One Commonly Committed Fallacies

Adapted from Lindsey Wilson College’s Writing Center

20. Spin

Spin doctors use the media to positively represent their own viewpoints and encourage criticism of

others. For example, after a political debate, each side rallies to declare their version of the outcome,

hoping to spin the desired perception their way.

21. Straw man

“You say you want to reform the criminal justice system. What, do you want to free all the criminals?”

We do this all the time: take an argument we disagree with and mischaracterize it so it looks weak or

extreme, thus making our own side appear more reasonable

For this discussion, review the 3 attached resources, then compose two Introductions for your Researched Argumentative Essay (Topic: Replacing old equipment with new ones in medical facilities). The introductions should demonstrate different approaches, using different words and phrasing. Only the thesis statement will remain similar. Then, in a third paragraph, share your thoughts about which introduction you are most likely to use and why.

A few reminders:

· Paragraph 1 will be your first possible introduction.

· Paragraph 2 will be your second possible introduction.

· Paragraph 3 will be your commentary on both introductions.

· Write only in 3rd person point of view (No direct address – “You would be shocked at the waste of edible foods!”).

· Do not announce the topic (Example: This paper will discuss the importance of donkey farming to nomad societies in Northern Africa; In this essay, or, In this essay, I will…).

· If you use a source in your introduction, such as for a statistic, you should cite it and reference the material.

For this discussion, review the 3 attached resources, then compose two Introductions for your Researched Argumentative Essay (Topic: Replacing old equipment with new ones in medical facilities). The introductions should demonstrate different approaches, using different words and phrasing. Only the thesis statement will remain similar. Then, in a third paragraph, share your thoughts about which introduction you are most likely to use and why.

A few reminders:

· Paragraph 1 will be your first possible introduction.

· Paragraph 2 will be your second possible introduction.

· Paragraph 3 will be your commentary on both introductions.

· Write only in 3rd person point of view (No direct address – “You would be shocked at the waste of edible foods!”).

· Do not announce the topic (Example: This paper will discuss the importance of donkey farming to nomad societies in Northern Africa; In this essay, or, In this essay, I will…).

· If you use a source in your introduction, such as for a statistic, you should cite it and reference the material.

As you read the following sample introductions, note that most combine more than one technique. Also, note that the information gets narrower and narrower until it con- nects to the thesis. Your goal is to introduce your thesis in a manner that is meaningful, engaging, and appropriate to your audience and purpose.

1. Analogy Artists are to their studios as scientists are to their labs. Artists experiment with

color, texture, and medium to discern the different effects these elements have on the eye and mind. Sometimes their experiments are fantastic successes; sometimes they fail terribly, just as scientists might. Rather than thinking of artists as visionaries driven by pain and inspiration, we should think of them as hardworking risk takers, willing to experiment until they solve the aesthetic problems they have set themselves to examine.

(Adapted from the Virgil Undergraduate Writing Center Web site)

2. Anecdote On seeing another child fall and hurt himself, Hope, just 9 months old, stared,

tears welling up in her eyes, and crawled to her mother to be comforted—as though she had been hurt and not her friend. When 15-month-old Michael saw his friend Paul crying, Michael fetched his own teddy bear and offered it to Paul; when that didn’t stop Paul’s tears, Michael brought Paul’s security blanket from another room. Such small acts of sympathy and caring, observed in scientifi c studies, are leading researchers to trace the roots of empathy—the ability to share another’s emotions—to infancy, contradicting a longstanding assumption that infants and toddlers are incapable of these feelings.

(From “Researchers Trace Empathy’s Roots to Infancy” by Daniel Goleman)


15 Ways to Write Your Introduction

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Appendix BA-10

3. Background Information In his essay, fi rst published in the New York Times in 1979, “If Black English

Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” James Baldwin attempts to legitimize black English as a unique language. He argues that black English is a valid lan- guage because of the role it plays in the lives of black Americans; it serves as a means for blacks to control their own circumstances, defi ne themselves, and obtain power. Baldwin justifi es black English by applying George Orwell’s argument that language is “a political instrument, means, and proof of power” to the black experi- ence (Orwell 436). Like black Americans, Chicanos have developed a language all their own—Spanglish. Just as black English plays a vital role for black people, Chicano speech serves an important purpose for Chicanos. Purpose, Baldwin argues, validates and makes language authentic. It is then the social, cultural, and political signifi cance of Spanglish in the lives of Chicanos that legitimizes it as a language.

(From “‘Spanglish’: The Language of Chicanos” by Rosa María Jiménez)

4. Brief Description As I walk into the academic building of my college, I can’t help stopping in front

of the beautiful three-level octagonal fountain in the middle of the lobby. Its hugeness symbolizes the ideals of the college. Watching the clear water fl owing from one level to another, my gaze comes to rest on various coins at the bottom of the third level. The coins are clearly visible: pennies, dimes, nickels, and a few quarters. Each coin, thrown by students as they rushed to class, expresses their hopes, goals, desires, and dreams. To some, it may be a simple wish to pass the next test; for others, it may be a wish for a successful future career; but to all, it represents a possibility of a better tomorrow. We can hear the soft whispers of the college promising its students a better future as we continue to invest our time, money, and energy. There is no doubt in our minds that the education we receive here will enable us to gain fi nancial indepen- dence, respect, and, most importantly, control of our own destinies.

(Carmen Toro, Pueblo Community College student)

5. Defi nition of Terms Recently, our local school district adopted a strategic plan emphasizing a new

concept called 21st-century skills. In particular, the plan states that local schools will provide all graduates with the 21st-century skills needed to compete in the interna- tional economy. Naturally, many citizens—parents, businesspeople, even teachers— are wondering exactly what this term means, and many are expressing the same kind of puzzlement we’ve seen repeatedly over the years when educational leaders adopt the latest “buzzword” as if it were the long-awaited silver bullet. However, though 21st-century skills may sound like another fad term, it is really a new descriptor for a

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very old concept: the broadly educated person. Simply, it refers to the integration of critical thinking, research, technical, and cultural/historical knowledge that has long characterized the well-educated human being.

If there is a signifi cant difference between this concept and earlier educational trends, it may be a new sense of urgency: evidence is showing that if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the world economy, we simply must do a better job of producing graduates who possess the 21st-century skill set. The link between education and economic productivity has never been more openly part of the public agenda than it is today. Humanists regret this connection deeply, claiming that education should be a process of self-discovery and fulfi llment, not a service to the state. Corporate leaders, on the other hand, unabashedly think of educa- tion as an assembly line for future workers. More moderate thinkers, however, are beginning to recognize that 21st-century skills can give us the best of both worlds: economic competitiveness as well as personal fulfi llment. The time has come to drop our cynical and dismissive attitude toward educational change and give 21st-century skills a fi ghting chance.

(Renee Flores, Pueblo Community College student)

6. Figurative Language I don’t know why, in my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to join the

high school football team. I didn’t like football and never watched it on TV. I wasn’t the least bit athletic. The only triumph I’d ever had in this area was when, in fi fth grade, I performed a handstand for a full 6 seconds, beating out my friend Bradley who went on to become an Olympic gymnast, but who had been kept home sick the previous week. I’d never even spoken with a football player—the players were all so wide you had to get out of the way when they came down the hall, and they had the sleekest-looking girls, dripping with confi dent sexual power and sub- missiveness, hanging on them in the hallways. The football players’ big grins were always directed out there somewhere, beyond.

But when tryouts were held on that hot August Oklahoma afternoon, I was there. Once on the fi eld (I’ll leave aside the bit about needing help putting on the gear in the locker room), inside the unaccustomed helmet, I was on another planet. My senses were eerily distorted. I hardly knew where I was or which way to face; it was like being in a diving bell in the hot springs at Yellowstone. Sounds came from all directions and mingled with heat and exhaled fear and sweat. If you’ve ever breathed hot minestrone in an echo chamber, you are familiar with the sensation. Repeatedly that day, after the thronging human machine knocked me fl at and pressed parts of my body into the hard ground, I found myself staggering to my feet, help- lessly unaware of my purpose or location. The other players—coming into view as my helmet swung round pathetically—looked incredulously, pityingly, in my direc- tion, sometimes for long minutes, not knowing what to make of this strange creature, this skinny-legged stork, this pink heron, in their midst.

Appendix B

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Appendix BA-12

It was an experience of feeling utterly out of place and threatened—fragile (if somewhat self-pitying) prey in a lions’ cage—that characterized the next few months of my life. For somehow I made the team. And though I never played in a single game, I did learn a lesson that year about how others might feel in similar situations: strangers, outcasts, or those who are just plain different.

(Frank Cerrano, Pueblo Community College student)

7. Historical Information The history of jazz is well known among afi cionados, at least in general outline.

The story of jazz is intimately tied to the social history of the American 20th century; in fact, it is almost impossible to study the social history of the last hundred years with- out considering the important infl uence of America’s major indigenous art form.

Briefl y, then, we might summarize the history of jazz as follows: It began in the great melting pot of New Orleans in the last years of the 19th century, mixing musical infl uences such as gospel, Delta blues, and various international forms into a vibrant dance hall music. It developed and spread to other cities primarily through the creative genius of one man, Louis Armstrong, becoming in the process a me- dium through which the most innovative musical ideas were introduced spontane- ously, on the stage, in the form of improvised melodies. During World War II, jazz expressed itself mainly as big band swing music, and following the war, it evolved into the complicated small-ensemble form we know as bebop. The 1960s were a time of great experimentation in music, as well as in lifestyles, and jazz participated fully in this experimentation with the likes of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Then in the 1970s, jazz began merging with popular music to create “fusion” styles under the infl uence of Miles Davis and others.

Where is jazz now? This is not an easy question to answer. Some maintain that jazz forever lost its distinctive voice when it blended with popular music in the seventies. Others say that jazz ran out of original ideas even earlier and that it has forever passed into the mists of time. However, if history teaches anything, it teaches that ideas have a way of returning with renewed vigor and fresh perspec- tive. Jazz is no exception. The early 21st century is an exciting time for jazz fans to be alive, for our music is experiencing a new beginning. Just listen.

(Jeff Bailey, Pueblo Community College student)

8. Humor Two million years ago, in a land not so far away, Chicago maybe, a lone

woman put on her fur-lined, saber-toothed tiger outfi t and went to the local pond for a quick dip. Then along came Mr. Macho Caveman, wearing bones in his nose and his hairy back combed with a fi shbone brush. He spied our lovely cavewoman and said, “Me Tor. You lucky.” He grabbed her and added, “Me zug-zug you.” The

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startled cavewoman picked up her wooly-mammoth club, bopped him on the head, and then walked away. Thus, the fi rst jerk was disposed of. Since the beginning of time, women have been trying to fi ght off jerks. We have learned a few new ways since then, so with a little knowledge and a lot of civilization, here is a simple pro- cedure that will help any woman get rid of a jerk.

(Catherine McDaniel, Pueblo Community College student)

9. Quotation “Alone one is never lonely,” says May Sarton in her essay “The Rewards of

Living a Solitary Life.” Most people, however, do not share Sarton’s opinion: They are terrifi ed of living alone. They are used to living with others—children with par- ents, roommates with roommates, friends with friends, husbands with wives. When the statistics catch up with them, therefore, they are rarely prepared. Chances are high that most adult men and women will need to know how to live alone, briefl y or longer, at some time in their lives.

(Tara Foster, student; from the Virgil Undergraduate Writing Center website)

10. Rhetorical Question Why does it so often seem that men in our society need to demean the women

with whom they work? For years we have read stories of men who, having attained a certain amount of power in their company, feel the need to hurt or demean those around them for nothing more than their own personal pleasures. Harassing comments or gestures that offend or make others feel threatened have become all too common in today’s world. It seems that men in positions of power believe they are not out of line when propositioning women in an inappropriate manner, promising advancement or raises in exchange for certain favors. As concerned citizens, we should demand better from one another and fi nd a way to end this type of behavior. Until then, women will continue to be victims for three main reasons: fear, lack of support, and ignorance.

(Christopher Bush, Pueblo Community College student)

11. Short Narration Never in my entire school career have I turned in an assignment on time. Ever

since I was a child, I’ve saved important tasks until the last minute. When I was a little girl, getting ready for school in the morning was a job I couldn’t seem to accomplish on my own. While the school bus waited in front of my house, my mother would still be stuffi ng my books into my backpack and helping me on with my coat. Later, in high school, I couldn’t seem to start my homework assignments until it was nearly too late. Again, my mother would come to the rescue: she’d pull

Appendix B

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Appendix BA-14

out my books, open them to the right page, sit down with me at the table, and walk me step by step through the assignment herself. Now that I’m a college student, the situation hasn’t improved much; in fact, without my mom to guide me, I often miss deadlines, and my grades are predictably bad.

Yes, I’m just another procrastinator. There are lots of us on campus. We are everywhere, and we are easy to identify. We’re the ones who “forgot to bring our notes” or the ones who walk in late every day because our “car wouldn’t start,” when in fact we never took any notes and don’t drive cars because we can’t seem to follow through on buying them or getting them fi xed. We are the ones who approach the teacher at the end of class to bargain for a little more time, and some of us have gotten good at succeeding in this bargain. We know how to manipulate those who, like my mom, have a soft heart for helping others. The problem, of course, is that we are only putting off the inevitable. At some point, we are going to have to get to work, or we will fail. And many of us do fail. Because I am on the verge of failing out of college, I recently joined a procrastinators’ support group called Procrastinators Anonymous, and I’m learning a lot about this “disease,” especially about what causes it. At the ripe age of 20, I’m fi nally learning about the factors that have made me what I am: fear of failure and criticism, lack of motivation, and enabling behaviors of others.

(Andrew Schwartz, Pueblo Community College student)

12. Startling Fact About a fi fth of all murders in the United States are committed by a relative of the

victim and, in most cases, by the spouse. The police dread answering calls concerning domestic violence or family confl icts because of the vicious and dangerous nature of so many of these confl icts; in fact, more police offi cers are killed attempting to resolve these disputes than in almost any other type of situation they face (Miller 75). Studies indicate that each year around 7 million couples go through a violent episode in which one spouse tries to cause the other serious pain or injury (89). This outburst of violence in a group of partners who are supposed to love and care for each other is not easily ex- plained, but studies suggest that the modern family may be under greater pressures than it can easily bear due to income, employment, family roles, and cultural environment.

(Author unknown)

13. Statistics Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune and neurological disorder that affects

2.5 million people worldwide, including 400,000 Americans. In this disease, the nerve-insulating myelin of a person’s body comes under attack when the body’s own defensive immune system no longer recognizes it and takes it for an intruder. The cause is still unknown, but certain environmental triggers and perhaps a virus could be contributing factors.

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Appendix B A-15

My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 13 years ago. My mother un- fortunately has a progressive disease course, in which the symptoms worsen as time goes on. She has been through too many hospital visits to count anymore. I was very young when her illness began, and my lifestyle has been one of support for my mother ever since. Supporting a parent with multiple sclerosis is a diffi cult process. MS affects its victims physically, psychologically, and socially, and for each of these types of effect, family members must learn to cope in different ways.

(Dianna Sholey, Pueblo Community College student)

14. Vivid Contrast In the early ‘70s we were hip and cool and groovy, wearing our bell-bottom

pants, beads, moccasins, and tie-dyed shirts with our long, straight hair parted in the middle and our un-made-up faces casually surveying the scene. Jefferson Airplane and the Mamas and the Papas were our idols and rum and coke our fi rst experiment with drinking. Today my daughter, a teen of the 21st century, is “scene,” clad in her tight capris, her clogs, and her short T-shirt, exposing her pierced belly button and her barbed-wire arm tattoos. Her clipped, blackened hair stands straight up in unmoving defi ance of any authority. Tupac and 2 Live Crew are her music favorites and Coronas her choice of drink. It might fi rst appear that the two generations have nothing in common except the strangeness, but so much of my daughter’s behavior reminds me of myself 30 years ago that I don’t feel at all anxious about her weird lifestyle. In truth, although generations may seem miles apart, their similarities are more than they care to admit.

(Isabella Melecio, Pueblo Community College student)

15. Writer’s Experience with the Subject Let me start with a confession. I am addicted to soap operas. From the minute

I get up until it’s time to go to bed, I think about my favorite characters. At work I recount the scenes of the latest episodes and try to think of better solutions to my favorite characters’ many problems. Even my job schedule is planned around the hours of my favorite soaps. My family has accepted my addiction and prefers not to discuss it; my friends think that I’ve gone insane; I, however, have come to realize that there are millions of people throughout the world who share this addiction. After much analysis and research, I have come to understand that soap operas can serve three special purposes for so many people: entertainment, a way to live life vicari- ously, and an excuse to isolate ourselves from what we can’t or don’t dare change.

(Author unknown)

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What this handout is about This handout will explain the functions of introductions, offer strategies for creating effective

introductions, and provide some examples of less effective introductions to avoid.

The role of introductions Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write. Usually when you sit

down to respond to an assignment, you have at least some sense of what you want to say in the

body of your paper. You might have chosen a few examples you want to use or have an idea that will

help you answer the main question of your assignment; these sections, therefore, may not be as

hard to write. And it’s fine to write them first! But in your final draft, these middle parts of the paper

can’t just come out of thin air; they need to be introduced and concluded in a way that makes sense

to your reader.

Your introduction and conclusion act as bridges that transport your readers from their own lives into

the “place” of your analysis. If your readers pick up your paper about education in the autobiography

of Frederick Douglass, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of

Chapel Hill, television, e-mail, and The Daily Tar Heel and to help them temporarily enter the world of

nineteenth-century American slavery. By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a

transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers

the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying. Similarly, once you’ve

hooked your readers with the introduction and offered evidence to prove your thesis, your conclusion

can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. (See our

handout on conclusions.)

Note that what constitutes a good introduction may vary widely based on the kind of paper you are

writing and the academic discipline in which you are writing it. If you are uncertain what kind of

introduction is expected, ask your instructor.https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/

Why bother writing a good introduction? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The opening paragraph of your paper will

provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the

overall quality of your work. A vague, disorganized, error-filled, off-the-wall, or boring introduction will

probably create a negative impression. On the other hand, a concise, engaging, and well-written

introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and

your paper.

Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot

of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how

you plan to proceed with your discussion. In many academic disciplines, your introduction should

contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. Your introduction should also give the reader a

sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of

the paragraphs and pages that will follow. After reading your introduction, your readers should not

have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper.

Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should

capture your readers’ interest, making them want to read the rest of your paper. Opening with a

compelling story, an interesting question, or a vivid example can get your readers to see why your

topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an engaging intellectual conversation

(remember, though, that these strategies may not be suitable for all papers and disciplines).

Strategies for writing an effective introduction Start by thinking about the question (or questions) you are trying to answer. Your entire essay will be

a response to this question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end. Your direct answer

to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will likely be included in your

introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point. Imagine that you are

assigned the following question:

Drawing on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, discuss the relationship between education and slavery in 19th-century America. Consider the following: How did white control of education reinforce slavery? How did Douglass and other enslaved African Americans view education while they endured slavery? And what role did education play in the acquisition of freedom? Most importantly, consider the degree to which education was or was not a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

You will probably refer back to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay,

and the prompt itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction. Notice

that it starts with a broad statement and then narrows to focus on specific questions from the book.

One strategy might be to use a similar model in your own introduction—start off with a big picture

sentence or two and then focus in on the details of your argument about Douglass. Of course, a

different approach could also be very successful, but looking at the way the professor set up the

question can sometimes give you some ideas for how you might answer it. (See our handout on

understanding assignments for additional information on the hidden clues in assignments.)

Decide how general or broad your opening should be. Keep in mind that even a “big picture” opening

needs to be clearly related to your topic; an opening sentence that said “Human beings, more than

any other creatures on earth, are capable of learning” would be too broad for our sample assignment

about slavery and education. If you have ever used Google Maps or similar programs, that

experience can provide a helpful way of thinking about how broad your opening should be. Imagine

that you’re researching Chapel Hill. If what you want to find out is whether Chapel Hill is at roughly

the same latitude as Rome, it might make sense to hit that little “minus” sign on the online map until

it has zoomed all the way out and you can see the whole globe. If you’re trying to figure out how to

get from Chapel Hill to Wrightsville Beach, it might make more sense to zoom in to the level where

you can see most of North Carolina (but not the rest of the world, or even the rest of the United

States). And if you are looking for the intersection of Ridge Road and Manning Drive so that you can

find the Writing Center’s main office, you may need to zoom all the way in. The question you are

asking determines how “broad” your view should be. In the sample assignment above, the questions

are probably at the “state” or “city” level of generality. When writing, you need to place your ideas in

context—but that context doesn’t generally have to be as big as the whole galaxy!

Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that

isn’t necessarily true, and it isn’t always the most effective way to craft a good introduction. You may

find that you don’t know precisely what you are going to argue at the beginning of the writing

process. It is perfectly fine to start out thinking that you want to argue a particular point but wind up

arguing something slightly or even dramatically different by the time you’ve written most of the paper.

The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated

issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument. However, an introduction written

at the beginning of that discovery process will not necessarily reflect what you wind up with at the

end. You will need to revise your paper to make sure that the introduction, all of the evidence, and

the conclusion reflect the argument you intend. Sometimes it’s easiest to just write up all of yourhttps://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/understanding-assignments/

evidence first and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will

match the body of the paper.

Don’t be afraid to write a tentative introduction first and then change it later. Some people find that

they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. That’s fine,

but if you are one of those people, be sure to return to your initial introduction later and rewrite if


Open with something that will draw readers in. Consider these options (remembering that they may not be suitable for all kinds of papers):

● an intriguing example—for example, Douglass writes about a mistress who initially teaches him but then ceases her instruction as she learns more about


● a provocative quotation that is closely related to your argument—for example, Douglass writes that “education and slavery were incompatible with each other.”

(Quotes from famous people, inspirational quotes, etc. may not work well for an

academic paper; in this example, the quote is from the author himself.)

● a puzzling scenario—for example, Frederick Douglass says of slaves that “[N]othing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds,

debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind; and

yet how wonderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most frightful

bondage, under which they have been groaning for centuries!” Douglass clearly

asserts that slave owners went to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of

slaves, yet his own life story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.

● a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote—for example, “Learning about slavery in the American history course at Frederick Douglass High School,

students studied the work slaves did, the impact of slavery on their families, and

the rules that governed their lives. We didn’t discuss education, however, until one

student, Mary, raised her hand and asked, ‘But when did they go to school?’ That

modern high school students could not conceive of an American childhood devoid

of formal education speaks volumes about the centrality of education to American

youth today and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in

past generations.”

● a thought-provoking question—for example, given all of the freedoms that were denied enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Frederick Douglass

focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy?

Pay special attention to your first sentence. Start off on the right foot with your readers by making

sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and

polished way.

How to evaluate your introduction draft Ask a friend to read your introduction and then tell you what he or she expects the paper will

discuss, what kinds of evidence the paper will use, and what the tone of the paper will be. If your

friend is able to predict the rest of your paper accurately, you probably have a good introduction.

Five kinds of less effective introductions 1. The placeholder introduction. When you don’t have much to say on a given topic, it is easy to create this kind of introduction. Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several

sentences that are vague and don’t really say much. They exist just to take up the “introduction

space” in your paper. If you had something more effective to say, you would probably say it, but in

the meantime this paragraph is just a place holder.

Example: Slavery was one of the greatest tragedies in American history. There were many different aspects of slavery. Each created different kinds of problems for enslaved people. 2. The restated question introduction. Restating the question can sometimes be an effective strategy, but it can be easy to stop at JUST restating the question instead of offering a more specific,

interesting introduction to your paper. The professor or teaching assistant wrote your question and

will be reading many essays in response to it—he or she does not need to read a whole paragraph

that simply restates the question.

Example: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass discusses the relationship between education and slavery in 19th century America, showing how white control of education reinforced slavery and how Douglass and other enslaved African Americans viewed education while they endured. Moreover, the book discusses the role that education played in the acquisition of freedom. Education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery. 3. The Webster’s Dictionary introduction. This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition of one or more of the words in the assigned question. Anyone can look a word up in the

dictionary and copy down what Webster says. If you want to open with a discussion of an important

term, it may be far more interesting for you (and your reader) if you develop your own definition of

the term in the specific context of your class and assignment. You may also be able to use a

definition from one of the sources you’ve been reading for class. Also recognize that the dictionary is

also not a particularly authoritative work—it doesn’t take into account the context of your course and

doesn’t offer particularly detailed information. If you feel that you must seek out an authority, try to

find one that is very relevant and specific. Perhaps a quotation from a source reading might prove

better? Dictionary introductions are also ineffective simply because they are so overused. Instructors

may see a great many papers that begin in this way, greatly decreasing the dramatic impact that any

one of those papers will have.

Example: Webster’s dictionary defines slavery as “the state of being a slave,” as “the practice of owning slaves,” and as “a condition of hard work and subjection.” 4. The “dawn of man” introduction. This kind of introduction generally makes broad, sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time, throughout the world, etc. It

is usually very general (similar to the placeholder introduction) and fails to connect to the thesis. It

may employ cliches—the phrases “the dawn of man” and “throughout human history” are examples,

and it’s hard to imagine a time when starting with one of these would work. Instructors often find

them extremely annoying.

Example: Since the dawn of man, slavery has been a problem in human history. 5. The book report introduction. This introduction is what you had to do for your elementary school book reports. It gives the name and author of the book you are writing about, tells what the book is

about, and offers other basic facts about the book. You might resort to this sort of introduction when

you are trying to fill space because it’s a familiar, comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers

details that your reader probably already knows and that are irrelevant to the thesis.

Example: Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, in the 1840s. It was published in 1986 by Penguin Books. In it, he tells the story of his life.

And now for the conclusion… Writing an effective introduction can be tough. Try playing around with several different options and

choose the one that ends up sounding best to you!

Just as your introduction helps readers make the transition to your topic, your conclusion needs to

help them return to their daily lives–but with a lasting sense of how what they have just read is useful

or meaningful. Check out our handout on conclusions for tips on ending your paper as effectively as

you began it!

Works consultedhttps://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources

on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional

publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it

may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the

UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Douglass, Frederick. 1995. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,

Written by Himself. New York: Dover.http://www.lib.unc.edu/instruct/citations/

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