Informed Arguments: A Guide to Writing and Research
Copyright Year: 2019
Publisher: Texas A&M University
Conditions of Use
The textbook is amazingly comprehensive, especially given its brevity. I was surprised to see, for example, how thoroughly the authors were able to cover major concepts in argument theory. The authors introduce not only classical argument, but... read more
The textbook is amazingly comprehensive, especially given its brevity. I was surprised to see, for example, how thoroughly the authors were able to cover major concepts in argument theory. The authors introduce not only classical argument, but also the Toulmin model and Rogerian argument, which is a great way to introduce students to the complexities of this concept. The only major shortcoming that I see is its focus on essays. While the essay is an important and useful genre for exploring ideas and generating knowledge, students need to be given opportunity to practice other forms (reports or proposals, for example) in order to more fully understand how to adapt their writing across varying contexts and purposes. The authors focus very heavily on the rhetorical situation, which they should, but that focus its somewhat belied by their concurrent focus on the form of the essay, which limits the purpose, audience, and texts with which a student might interact.
This text is remarkably well-aligned with current practices in writing scholarship and pedagogy. It's chapters offer concise yet thorough discussions of major concepts like the rhetorical situation, rhetorical appeals, and even ethics in writing. While "accuracy" is a tricky concept to apply to something as qualitative as writing, the text is in agreement with prevailing scholarly trends and practices.
The text is very relevant to its intended audience of freshman composition students. I particularly like the focus on process and rhetorical situation. The textbook begins by prompting students to understand a writing assignment, which is something that I cannot foresee ever becoming outdated. Having students begin by assessing the needs of their specific situation is so important and yet still so undervalued in a lot of writing curricula.
The text's rhetoric and examples are clear and very accessible. In fact, I think this textbook may be the most accessible to freshman college students that I've seen. The author's shy away from all but the most necessary jargon, and what specialized terms they do use (rhetorical situation, etc) are very fully contextualized and explained.
The books is very consistent across all chapters. Its rhetoric is well-organized around the central concept of the rhetorical situation. Even though the text doesn't fully address that term until Section 3, it opens by encouraging students to understand each specific writing assignment, thereby prompting them from the very beginning to understand fully the situation in which they are writing.
For the most part I feel like this text could be used in a variety of ways and its chapters assigned in varying sequences.
Given the recursive nature of writing, this text is organized in a very logical and utilitarian way. Each chapter develops its subject very well and provides enough context along the way for a freshman audience to be able to understand that subject. The overall chapter organization is also very practical, and develops the point of the book quite well, even if teachers decide to assign chapters in a different order than that in which they are arranged in the book.
This is one of the biggest flaws for me. A PDF is one of the least user-friendly interfaces; even a physical book makes it easier to mark important passages and easily move back and forth between them. I realize that OER funding availability makes interface a challenge, but this is a notable flaw of this text. It's hardly a reason not to adopt it, however.
I detected no grammatical errors whatsoever.
I would agree with this for the most part. I do question the use of President Trump's inaugural speech to exemplify the rhetorical situation, however. Maybe the divisiveness of Trump's administration will fade over time, but right now it seems like a poor choice, in that many students will have a hard time thinking in any way objectively about it. Given that no specific examples from the address are used, I'm not sure why the authors chose to specify Trump's inaugural address over the situation of an inaugural address more generally. For now and for the next few years, however, it seems like a poor choice.
Pantuso et al. have produced a clear, concise, and very useful textbook. It would be a great supplement or even primary rhetoric for a freshman composition course. If the authors were to revise the textbook to include a wider variety of genres--thereby exposing students to a wider variety of rhetorical situations--this would be an outstanding OER text.
I think it covers a lot of the basics, which is good, and I understand that it is intended to be a short, more concise introduction to academic writing. However, I would like to see a little more depth in areas like ethos, pathos, logos and the... read more
I think it covers a lot of the basics, which is good, and I understand that it is intended to be a short, more concise introduction to academic writing. However, I would like to see a little more depth in areas like ethos, pathos, logos and the rhetorical situation. These form the basis of modern argument, so it seems important to dig a bit deeper and to provide some relevant examples and situations to further explain these appeals.
The authors did an excellent job of accuracy and avoiding bias. Some of the points they make may give the wrong impression to students, however, like their description of the thesis statement being in the introduction in most cases. This is true, but it can be practically anywhere in the paper and I think it is relevant to let the students know that so their papers aren’t quite so mechanical and formulaic.
They did an excellent job of this, as well. This information doesn’t tend to change very quickly, but they still presented it in a way that should stand up to time very well, so I would say that this text will be useful for quite a while. A lot of texts tend to use examples that are quickly out-of-date (like political issues or current events); these can be more relevant and relatable to the students so they can help them to understand more easily, but they can quickly become irrelevant and have the opposite effect. Unless I overlooked it, I didn’t see any issues like that with this text.
It definitely is very clear. Again, some further elaboration on certain topics/concepts might make it even more clear (e.g., examples, more detailed explanations, and so on).
I didn’t see any issues with the consistency. Overall this book does a great job of holding together and explaining how each individual topic relates to the overall discussion of writing and the writing process. It speaks to the clarity of the text, as well, that each section of the book allows the text overall to support its own thesis about writing.
The book felt more linear than modular; in other words, it feels like the book should be read at the beginning as each section builds on the previous one. There were some exceptions like the visual arguments section; even these need some previous material to be fully understood and utilized, however.
The organization is excellent. This is the upside to the linear style I mentioned in the earlier section. If you tend to organize your class in this fashion, then this is a great book to do that; it will allow you to provide information that consistently builds upon the information before it.
I am NOT a fan of long texts that are in PDF format. This made it very difficult to navigate around in the text, particularly with a smaller device like an iPhone. I read it both on an iPad and an iPhone and when I was on the iPhone I found myself getting very weary of constant speed-scrolling to find an area later in the book (say, page 160 for example). I think a different format (like ePub) would be a huge improvement.
The book’s grammar looked excellent. I didn’t notice any particular issues, and being a rhetoric & composition instructor I’m very observant of things like that.
Being about a fairly innocuous topic in the first place (unless controversial examples are used) this book didn’t have any issues that stood out to me. I mentioned earlier that it tends to stay fairly up-to-date in its examples, and this is another upside of that — it’s not using anything that is overly controversial.
Overall it’s a very well-written text that could be used if you want a more concise and to-the-point discussion of the major aspects of writing and the writing process. I think it could use a little more detail, development, as well as examples, however. And I’m not a fan of having to scroll endlessly through a PDF document, so a different format seems to be in order.
Table of Contents
- Section 1: Howdy!
- Section 2: Getting Started
- Section 3: Rhetorical Situation
- Section 4: Types of Argumentation
- Section 5: Process and Organization
- Section 6: Joining the Academic Conversation
- Section 7: Researched Writing
- Section 8: Ethics
About the Book
Welcome to composition and rhetoric! While most of you are taking this course because it is required, we hope that all of you will leave with more confidence in your reading, writing, researching, and speaking abilities as these are all elements of freshman composition. Many times, these elements are presented in excellent textbooks written by top scholars. While the collaborators of this particular textbook respect and value those textbooks available from publishers, we have been concerned with disenfranchising students who do not have the resources to purchase textbooks. Therefore, we decided to put together this Open Educational Resource (OER) explicitly for use in freshman composition courses at Texas A&M University. Thanks to a generous grant from Dean David Carlson of the Texas A&M University Libraries, this project became a reality. It is a collaborative endeavor undertaken by faculty in the libraries and English Department as part of the Provost’s Student Success Initiatives at Texas A&M and continues to be a work in progress. Combined, Dr. Terri Pantuso, Dr. Kathy Anders, and Prof. Sarah LeMire have over 30 years of experience in writing and research instruction. Our goal is for students to leave this course as critical thinkers, polished writers, and informed citizens who can engage in civil public discourse. Gig ‘em, Ags!
About the Contributors