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For this assignment you will attempt to understand the complexity of an issue by using stasis theory as a lens to look deeply at a single article of your choosing. The goal is to discover the various points at which you could enter the conversation (i.e., the points of disagreement or contention). After analyzing your primary text via the stasis questions, you will then offer an argument supported by outside sources on at least one of the points of contention you discover through the stasis analysis. Unlike a rhetorical analysis or genre/medium analysis, this essay will focus on the content of the argument rather than on how the argument is made.
First, pick a text to analyze that you find interesting. Then, after reading the text several times, use the four stasis questions to develop a rich analysis that both summarizes the issue and posits various alternative perspectives. Once you have thoroughly worked through the stasis questions, pick one (but no more than two) of the stasis questions that you had the most disagreement with the author’s position, or that you thought the author didn’t fully address; these disagreements become the basis for your argument. For example, maybe you don’t like the solutions or proposed actions the author sets forth (stasis question 4) and want to propose new solutions. Maybe you disagree with some of the facts the author presents (stasis question 1) and want to present others. Perhaps you think the author fails to define the issue adequately (question 2) and you want to set the record straight. Finally, find at least two outside sources as evidence to support your claim(s), and then craft a well-reasoned, thoughtful and articulate argument adequately supported by a solid base of outside evidence.
Four Stasis Questions
What are the facts?
What happened, according to the article, to make this a debatable issue?
What caused this issue to manifest or what factors existed in order to bring this issue to our attention?
Do these “facts” stack up, in your opinion, or could some of them be questioned by others? Which ones and why?
Do others have a differing opinion about what exactly happened to cause this issue to surface? Make sure to explain your answer.
How can the issue be defined?
How does the article define the issue?
Are there certain terms, parts, or categories that help define this issue for the author(s)? What are they and how are they defined?
Do these definitions help or hurt your understanding of the issue?
Would you define the issue (or parts of the issue) differently? If so, what terms, conditions or criteria would you use to redefine this issue? Make sure to explain your answers.
How much does it matter, and why?
How serious is the issue, according to the author?
Are there any moral or ethical consequences related to this issue?
Does the author propose immediate action be taken, or does the issues revolve around an understanding of the issue?
What are the consequences if we don’t act?
How serious are these consequences? Do you agree with the importance or seriousness of this issue? Do you feel there are any additional or missing moral or ethical implications? Make sure to explain your answers.
What actions should be taken as a result?
What is currently being done to affect the issue?
What does the author feel is working or not working about this current action?
Does the author argue for a specific change in action or policy?
What does the author feel we or others should do?
How might others disagree with these proposed actions?
Do you agree with the author’s proposed actions? If so, would you change any aspect of how or what needs to be done?
If you don’t agree with the actions, what alternative actions could we take?