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So What?

The Writer's Argument

Third Edition

Author Kurt Schick and Laura Miller

Publication Date - 15 September 2020

ISBN: 9780197537183

336 pages
Other inches

In Stock

A brief guide that provides students with the tools needed to write compelling arguments


So What? The Writer's Argument, Third Edition, teaches students how to write compelling arguments and explains why practicing argumentation is essential to learning and communicating with others. Practical exercises throughout each chapter reinforce this broader academic aim by focusing on the key issue of significance-helping writers answer the "So What?" question for themselves and their audiences. By showing students how their writing fits within the broader context of academic inquiry, So What?, Third Edition, encourages them to emulate and adapt the authentic academic styles, foundational organizing structures, and helpful rhetorical moves to their college classes and beyond.

New to this Edition

  • Enhanced discussion of genre, with new examples
  • Additional discussions and exercises woven throughout
  • Expanded examples to help with transferability, including scientific, political, and cultural examples
  • Draws more explicit connections between the responsible use of rhetoric and the health of democracy, highlighting how scholarly writing can teach students the skills, habits, and dispositions of civic discourse

About the Author(s)

Kurt Schick is Director of First-Year Writing and Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication at James Madison University.

Laura Miller is Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication and Executive Director of the Learning Centers at James Madison University.


"So What? is an excellent book. It is concise, readable, and a great building block for students. It is a thorough and accessible writing textbook that truly gets at what we mean by 'argument' in the academy." --Candace Nadon, Fort Lewis College

"So What? is a great text for introducing students to genres of academic writing across college campuses. Its focus on various approaches to argument development used by different disciplines helps students understand how writing changes in various situations." --Amber Pfannenstiel, Millersville University

"The compact nature of So What?--in combination with the focus on a more sophisticated approach to both research and argument--are the qualities that I prize in Schick and Miller's book. It is a very powerful little text, with many substantial ideas in a compact package." --Carol Curiel, California Polytech State University

Table of Contents

    To the Instructor
    The Scholarly Apprentice Model
    To the Student

    Chapter 1. What's the Purpose of Scholarly Writing?
    So, What's the Point of Scholarly Writing?
    A Scholar's Work-in College and Beyond
    Why Bother?
    Scholarly Habits of mind
    The Rhetorical Situation
    Analyzing Rhetorical Elements
    Scholarly Writing as a Rhetorical Activity

    Chapter 2. How Do Scholars Read and Write?
    Read Like a Scholar
    Challenges to Effective Reading
    Reading Strategically
    Genre and Its Uses
    Write More Like a Scholar
    The One-Draft Wonder
    A Better Writing Process

    Experienced Writers' Processes
    Set Priorities and Adapt Your Process
    Manage the Writing Process
    Interpreting Assignments
    Writing with Purpose
    Writing for Multiple Audiences
    Make It Matter: The So What? Factor

    Chapter 3. How Do We Select and Use Sources Responsibly?
    Sifting through Sources
    So What's a Better Source?
    How Do We Find Credible Scholarly Sources?
    What's the Best Research Container?
    Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Sources
    How to Summarize
    How to Paraphrase
    How to Quote and Integrate Sources
    How to Create a Conversation
    Citing Sources
    When We Need to Cite Something?
    Citation Fundamentals
    So Many Styles...
    Write with Integrity
    Unauthorized Collaboration
    Recycled Writing
    Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

    Chapter 4. How Do Arguments Work?
    What Does Argument Look Like in Different Contexts?
    What about Specialized Scholarly Arguments?
    How Do Scholars Create Arguments?
    Argument as Investigation and Case Building
    Implications and Applications
    How Do We Build Arguments?
    Supporting Claims
    Linking Support to Claims
    An Everyday Argument
    Getting to the Bottom of Things
    Making Assumptions
    "Above-Water" Arguments
    Rookie Mistakes and How to Fix Them

    Chapter 5. How Do We Analyze Arguments?
    Analyzing Rhetorical Elements
    So What? The Inspiration, Purpose, and Implications
    Author and Audience
    Identifying the Controversy
    A Guided Analysis of a Scholarly Argument
    Identify the Audience and Context
    Identify the Author
    and Inspiration
    Identify Contents of the Argument
    Identify the Purpose of the Argument
    Identify the Implications
    Analyzing Visual Arguments
    Responding to Arguments
    Play the "Believing and Doubting Game"
    Mind and Mine the Gaps

    Chapter 6. How Can We Create a Compelling Thesis?
    Every Great Thesis Grows from a Stimulating Question
    Ask the Right Questions
    Picking Juicier Questions
    Turning Clichéd Arguments into Better Ones

    Use Sources to Generate Ideas
    Alternative Competing Hypotheses
    Can I Change My Thesis?
    Why Would I Change My Thesis?
    Writing an Evolving Thesis
    Infuse a Little Style
    "Although" Statements
    Try Something Unexpected
    Checklist for Thesis Statements

    Chapter 7. How Do We Organize and Develop Arguments?
    Organizing Rhetorically
    Techniques for Organizing Your Thoughts
    Visualize Your Organization
    Experiment with Maps, Graphics, and Software
    Patterns for Organizing Arguments
    Start with What Others Have Said
    Follow Scholarly Models
    The Scholarly Model
    Use the Controversy Categories

    Techniques for Organizing Paragraphs
    Move from General to Specific, Known to Unknown
    Highlight Agreement before Disagreement
    Repeat Key Terms
    Stick to the Point
    Create a Reverse Outline
    How to Develop and Expand Arguments
    Build Transitions
    Add Metacommentary
    Aim for Reader-Centered Writing

    Anticipate and Respond to Opposing Views
    Anticipate Objections
    Respond to Objections

    Chapter 8. How Do We Support Arguments?
    Building Credibility
    Activating Reasoning or Logic with Evidence
    Quantitative Evidence
    Qualitative Evidence
    Research Methods
    Analyzing Research
    Evoke an Audience's Emotions
    Crossover Effects
    Personal Experience as Support
    Select Support According to the Controversy Categories
    Arguments about Existence and Fact
    Arguments about Definition
    Arguments about Cause and Consequence
    Arguments about Evaluation
    Arguments about Policy
    Provide Rationales to Link Support to Claims

    Chapter 9. How Can We Find and Fix Faults in Arguments?
    Relevance and Sufficiency
    Fallacious Arguments
    Faulty Reasoning
    Jumping to Conclusions
    Qualifying Your Claims
    Fallacies of Relevance
    Reasoning Fallacies
    Relying Too Much on Credibility
    Getting Emotional
    Hidden Benefits of Studying Fallacies
    Fallacies and Critical Thinking

    Chapter 10. How Can We Improve Our Style?
    Revise Globally and Edit Locally
    Writing with Style
    Clarity and Vividness
    Start Easy
    Remember, Less Can Be More
    Punctuate for Readability
    Use Strong Verbs
    Assert Your Active Voice
    Use Vivid and Precise Language
    Errors and Mistakes
    Grammar versus Usage
    Bending the Rules
    Creative Choices We Make to Improve Style
    Imitate Models
    Remix Sentences
    Use Figures of Speech
    Invest in a Good Title
    Proofreading and Editing
    Reviewing with Others
    Using Technology
    Developing More Style

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