Remember, don’t write about the text as a whole (thinking broadly, especially to

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Remember, don’t write about the text as a whole (thinking broadly, especially to start, is fine). Instead, find a narrow aspect of the book to concentrate on so that you can argue a position (answer a question, solve a problem). Here are some things to think about that in the past have led students in this class to arguable claims.
In themselves these items are not topics- they are invitations to think about them so that you might developer your own ideas. Also, none of them are “better” or “easier” than any of the others. The best sign that something will work is that you are interested in the issue.
These suggestions are not meant to in any way limit what you write about. The ideas you come up with on your own are always likely to be the best. Also feel free to combine or invert these suggestions in whatever way occurs to you. When I read the final publish, I will approach it as though the ideas are completely your own, without any preference on my part for any claim over any other, nor any consideration of what ideas were offered in this prompt.
1. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America” (The American Political Science Review, Vol. 86, No. 2 (Jun., 1992), pp. 357-368) Steven Forde argues that Franklin’s Autobiography provides an egalitarian, democratic model for an emerging American national character. He identifies “reasonableness” and “sociability” as the two foundations of Franklin’s utilitarian ideal.
You may write an argumentative essay in which you present a response to the Autobiography in light of Forde’s claims. You may focus on Franklin or Forde; that is, your argument might directly challenge a claim of Forde’s, using Franklin’s text as evidence to support your position, or you can offer a reading of Franklin that builds upon and extends the ideas Forde offers.
You are not obliged to use Forde at all, and if you choose to use him you can be selective and refer to as little of his essay as you find relevant to your theme.
As noted above, be sure to narrow your focus — don’t try to swallow either work whole. Instead, focus on a particular passage or issue. Trying to cover too much will weaken your essay as a whole. The key to the essay is for you to make a definite claim about one of the works, one that you will argue is correct.

Use this link to access “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America,” by Steven Forde
The American Political Science Review, Vol. 86, No. 2 (Jun., 1992), pp. 357-368
Published by: American Political Science Association

The link will take you to the JSTor page with a link directly to the article
2. Franklin’s (F) approach to Self-Improvement (S-I). Consider procedural issues– what qualities, traits, steps are needed (or most important) to have it work (self-knowledge, confidence patience have all been argued for). Also consider whether there are limits to his method– how much can you improve? Are there kinds of things (love, friendship) we can’t improve on through his rational methods? Can everyone benefit from his approach, as he clearly implies they can?

3. Think about how in F’s book morality, happiness, usefulness and success are related. Reading Forde, especially on the relation between Wealth and Virtue and on the role of what Forde calls “Reasonableness” (not the same as rationality!). Does his flexible approach imply that anything we do to get ahead is okay? For F, what constitutes “virtue”– Treating others well? Having self-control? For F, what is (should be) the relation between religion and morality? Does he believe “moral perfection” is possible? Are there, for F, different sets of moral obligations depending on your station in life?

4.Think about the many ways that F discusses the importance of how we present ourselves to others. Is it insincere to present a particular version of ourselves, or to think about how others will perceive us and adjust our behavior accordingly. Reading Forde on “sociability” will suggest lots of ideas. Are there different standards for public life (business, politics) than there are for private life?

5.Many students have enjoyed writing on the way F models an approach to friendship. The key here is to think about how the Collins/Ralph friendships relate to the ideas about friendship F offers in his discussion of the Junto. Does F reject intimacy for the sake of “usefulness”? Or does he learn a more effective way to build long lasting friendships?

6.Two incidents have sparked many good papers: the “beer fund” affair at the London printers, and the way that F dissolves his partnership with Meredith. Do these incidents violate G’s principles of “honesty, sincerity, and integrity?”

7. There are themes available in discussing how F chooses to present himself in the Autobiography. Writers have especially focussed on why F includes so many mistakes (errata) and inconsistencies, and leaves out so many achievements. Consider these questions in light of F’s intent that his advice be useful for people in general, in the democratic spirit.This theme is related to various ways student writers discuss F’s notions of how leadership can be applied in what Forde calls the “emerging egalitarian democracy.”

8.You might find some ideas from reading the D.H. Lawrence critique of F.m which you can find at I think you should use L as someone to disagree with, since his view of F seems so generally mistaken.

GOALS: 1) Title: Devise a title that gives some sense of what your essay will be about—that is, what your claim will be.

2) Write an effective introductory paragraph. Your intro should identify the works you will be addressing; should clarify the issue you argument will address ( this can be a two step effort: one sentence to indicate the general thematic intentions of the work in question, a second to narrow that concern to the specific issue you will argue); and most importantly, should provide a statement of the claim you will be defending, the more specific the better.
3) Try to recognize the specific arguments you will be making: What are their parts—what warrants/principles will you be building from? What evidence from the text will you offer to support your claims? What reasons/inferences will you be patiently developing? Be sure to explicitly label these parts, though you need not use the terms we’ve discussed in class to do so.

4) Think about organizing the essay paragraph by paragraph. Give each paragraph a specific limited job to do, labeled by a topic sentence. Don’t shift within the paragraph. You will need to summarize the arguments of others before you respond to them.

5) Work on correct parenthetic citation form. Include a Works Cited page.

Remember to follow the basic rules of analytical writing.

1. Always use the present tense in discussing the work.
3. Don’t list a series of points about the work. Discuss one point in depth, or, if you mention more than one point, discuss how they relate to one another.
4. As we’ve said before, don’t shadow the text.
5. Don’t project your views onto the author. Summarize the author’s views accurately, then offer your commentary.
6. Don’t use jargon, or technical language of which you do not have full command.
7. Your best evidence that your thesis is accurate is citations from the text. But be certain that A) the citation is necessary to support or clarify a claim that isn’t obvious, and B) that, if necessary, you take the time to explain how the citation supports your claims.
9. First time referring to a person’s name (i.e., Benjamin Franklin) use the full name. After that last name only. Never use just first name alone.
Be very specific in your intent of writing. Don’t explain or write about the obvious. Use evidence from the text. Don’t summarize the text, analyze it. Don’t repeat yourself throughout the text and if you say something in the body paragraph, explain it. Don’t leave room for interpretation. Do NOT plagiarize . If I catch you, trust me I will, It will mean an automatic failure from the course.

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