Paper One: Argument Through Letters
For this assignment you will write a series of four letters to address specific audiences and situations. You will take the specific details provided about who your audience is, what your purpose is in writing and what your role is as the writer for each letter you write. All of these letters will put forward an argument to convince your reader, and the success of your arguments will depend on how skillfully you adapt your writing to the audience, situation and what you hope to achieve. As we will discuss in class, writing for different audiences requires a different tone and level of formality, different use of language and examples and using rhetorical appeals differently to influence the reader you are hoping to convince. Through these letters, you will demonstrate an understanding of how to adapt your writing to different audiences and situations. These letters are also based on real-life personal and professional situations that you will very likely encounter in your life during and after college. Part of the purpose of these letters is to show you clearly know how the material we are covering in the course applies to your personal and professional life.
Depending on the type of letter, the length and detail of your letter will vary slightly, but generally they will not exceed two pages in length, single-spaced. You should follow the Purdue Owl website organization for a business letters posted on Canvas.
These letters will be gathered into a single file and submitted to Canvas by Tuesday, January 31. You will then peer edit two other students’ papers by Sunday, Feb. 5.
The final draft of the Argument Through Letters assignment is Sunday, February 19 through Canvas.
This assignment is worth ten percent of your course grade.
These letters will be graded on how effectively you tailor your writing to fit the specific audience and situation, the general organization of your letter and the quality of the arguments you put forward. This assignment will be worth fifteen percent of your course grade.
Letter to Your Employer Asking for a Promotion/Raise
Audience: The audience for this letter is your employer. It may be a manager who supervises your work and controls promotion and hiring, or it may be another member of management who controls promotion. To some degree this depends on your profession. If you are a teacher, it may be the principle of your school. If you are in construction, it may be your foreman or the owner of the company. Think about what will impress and convince your “boss” to reward and recognize your hard work for them. Be smart about being respectful but making it clear you deserve this promotion/raise.
Role: Your role is that of an employee who has worked for the company five years. You feel that your contribution to the company and accomplishments warrant you being promoted or given a raise. You need to be respectful but firm that you have earned this.
Purpose: To persuade your employer to promote you to a higher position or give you a raise in salary in the same position.
While you may be currently employed and use your current work position as the subject of this letter, you can also fictionalize this a job you hope to have in the future. Your training, accomplishments, successes can be real of fictional, but try to keep them realistic and not exaggerated. I don’t mind you doing a little research into what kind of training and skills you might be promoted for in your field, but DO NOT CUT AND PASTE OR USE THE EXACT WORDING of anything your research. All of these letters have to be in your own words.
Letter to a business arguing that they need to refund money for a defective product
Audience: A professional, online business from which you purchased an expensive product (TV, gaming system, or home computer). When the product arrived at your home, it did not work properly, and you immediately contacted them to ask for a refund. They wrote you back and said that they will not take the product back or refund your money, and they suggest that you damaged it yourself while using it. Their tone is hostile and firm in their position.
Role: Your role is customer, but you want to project a professional, serious tone throughout.
Purpose: Your purpose is to convince the company to refund your money for the product you purchased and to convince them that it is in their best interest professionally to do so.
Letter to the editor of The Statesman arguing for a change in campus policy
Audience: Your audience is the university campus community. It will include the students and faculty who may be influenced by the policy, but also the administration who you wish to persuade to change their policy. While people outside the university community might read your letter, your primary audience will be people on campus who read the university newspaper.
Role: A college student, junior level or above, with at least three years experience with campus life and academic situations.
Purpose: To persuade the university to change a long-standing university policy or system to improve conditions for students (though it may improve things for faculty or support staff as well). You will be allowed to choose what campus policy you will discuss, so your purpose will vary somewhat depending on which policy you wish to change.
Letter to your city government identifying a dangerous traffic situation and arguing for something to be done to fix it
Audience: The city government of Terre Haute, Indiana (You may also use your own hometown instead of Terre Haute, but you will need to identify it in your letter). You may address it to the most relevant city official or department if you wish.
Role: Your role is that of a concerned member of the community seeking to remove a safety hazzard or danger you have observed. You should have strong personal knowledge and experience with the location you are discussing and the problem you feel needs to be fixed. While I have specified a traffic problem, you might choose another type of problem that you feel the city needs to address, but it must obviously be something that the city government has control over.
Purpose: To persuade the city government to take direct, immediate action to address a dangerous safety issue you have observed. This will likely require the expenditure of money and use of city resources, so you must be very convincing that THIS problem is more serious than other problems and complaints that the city is dealing with or intending to deal with at the present time.
In some of these situations, specific details will need to be created by you to give your letter the proper level of detail and make a convincing case. You have the freedom to “invent” specific details such as names, events, and specific details you need to make your case, but don’t go overboard and make it outlandish or silly. These letters should be grounded in reality and situations that people deal with on a daily basis.
You will combine all four letters into one file and submit your first draft to Canvas for peer editing by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, January 31. You will then have until Sunday, February 5 to peer edit two other students’ papers.
The Final Draft is due to Canvas by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February. 19.
Warning! It is absolutely vital that you not search the internet for letters on the topics I have assigned and attempt to pass off letters found online as your own. This happens frequently with this assignment, and I am very strict on giving failing grades to those who attempt to pass off other writer’s work as their own. There are lots of tempting samples of these kinds of letters online, but if you use the ideas and wording of an online sample, you will fail this assignment. Make your letters entirely your own and original.