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SO WHAT? The Writer's Argument, with Readings

Second Edition

Kurt Schick and Laura Schubert

Publication Date - November 2016

ISBN: 9780190209131

576 pages

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $64.99

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


So What? The Writer's Argument, Second 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?, Second 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

  • Simplified terminology and expanded explanations of rhetoric and argumentation elements
  • Additional examples and exercises to further illustrate concepts
  • Annotated readings and sample rhetorical analyses with peer-review commentary
  • Original illustrations to aid in visualizing key concepts
  • Full-length readings that demonstrate techniques used in the text


  • Chapter Checklists forecast key concepts for each chapter
  • "Consider This" activities embedded in each chapter provide opportunities for students to reflect on issues of content, style, and overall craft
  • "Try This" exercises allow students to practice or investigate what they learn immediately via short exercises
  • "What's Next" features conclude each chapter with activities and assignments that help students apply what they've learned to other classes and beyond school
  • Appendices at the end of the book provide quick guides for peer review and collaboration

About the Author(s)

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

Laura Schubert is Instructor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication at James Madison University. She is also a faculty member in James Madison University's Writing Center.


"As I was reviewing this text, I kept imaging how well the "Consider This," "Try This," and "What's Next" exercises would work. They are relevant and practical. Many composition texts suggest exercises, but more often than not these suggestions are tantamount to college-level busy work. So What?'s exercises are ready-made for the college composition course." --Eloise A. Whisenhunt, Young Harris College -Kim Gainer, Radford University

"The accessible and fun style is compelling, as are the overall structure and range of topics that initiate students into academic culture." --Greg Winston, Husson University

"The book's versatility is important. This is a text that Biology, Business, and English majors alike can not only can learn from but apply in their studies and in their everyday lives." --Tyler Fleming, University of Louisville

"I mistakenly thought that this text would be just like They Say I Say, but I was wrong. This text is more engaging, more provocative, and more comprehensive." --Kristi Costello, Arkansas State University So What?... incorporates writing for different audiences and different purposes, rather than just argumentative academic papers. This book also focuses on engaging students in debatable and controversial subjects, and it can help students develop research topics. It covers a wide range of the types of writing students engage in, while also emphasizing all of the different steps of the writing process, including reading and drafting. I also think the tone, examples used, and brevity of the chapters would encourage students to engage with the book beyond just fulfilling a reading assignment. -Catherine Staley, Marshall University

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1 : What's the Purpose of Scholarly Writing?
    Chapter 2: How Do Scholars Read and Write?
    Chapter 3: How Do We Select and Use Sources Responsibly?
    Chapter 4: How Do Arguments Work?
    Chapter 5: How Do We Analyze Arguments?
    Chapter 6: How Do We Support Arguments?
    Chapter 7: How Can We Create a Compelling Thesis?
    Chapter 8: How Do We Organize and Develop Arguments?
    Chapter 9: How Can We Find Faults and Gaps in Arguments?
    Chapter 10: What about Style?

    Section 1: How Do We Know What We Know?
    "Does the Internet Make You Smarter?" by Clay Shirky
    "How to Know What to Believe Anymore" by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel
    "When Prior Belief Trumps Scholarship" by Charles R. Marshall
    "How Does our Language Shape the Way We Think?" by Lera Boroditsky
    Excerpt from Introduction to Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 by Kathryn S. Olmstead
    "Seeing Red? The Mind-Bending Power of Colour" by Tom Chivers
    "Post Hoc Rides Again" by Darrell Huff

    Section 2: What Challenges Do College Students Face?
    "Crass Frat Boys at Old Dominion" by Conor Friedersdorf
    "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
    "Taking My Parents to College" by Jennine Capó Crucet
    "Let's Give Chivalry Another Chance" by Emily Esfahani Smith
    "Accents and Ebonics: When the Hood Goes to College" by Taylor Callwood
    "How to Live Wisely" by Richard J. Light
    "Get Your Stadiums out of Our Churches" by Alan Levinovitz
    "Effects of Gender and Type of Praise on Task Performance Among Undergraduates" by Lea Lessard, Andrew Grossman, and Maggie L. Syme

    Section 3: What's the Point of Good Writing?
    "9 Qualities of Good Writing" by Ann Handley
    "Will We Use Commas in the Future?" by Matthew J.X. Malady
    "Through Glasses Half Full" by Kurt Schick
    "The Art of the Police Report" by Ellen Collett
    "Zombie Nouns" by Helen Sword
    "N/A 101, Prof. Blank, A Month/Some Day/The Year, A Love Story" by Alan Linic

    Section 4: What Makes Us Happy?
    "Pursuing the Science of Happiness" by Andrew Guest
    "A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind" by Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert
    "What Happy People Do Differently" by Robert Biswas-Diener & Todd B. Kashdan
    "For the Love of Money" by Sam Polk
    Excerpt from"An Interview on 'The Paradox of Choice' with Barry Schwartz" by Elizabeth Cosgriff
    "Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection" by Julie Scelfo
    "Hey Internet, Please Quit With the Happiness Articles" by Katy Waldman
    "The All-or-Nothing Marriage" by Eli J. Finkel

    Section 5: How Do We Pursue Justice?
    "The Caging of America" by Adam Gopnik
    "With Liberty and Justice for Some" by Emanuel Grant
    "Why Should Married Women Change Their Names? Let Men Change Theirs" by Jill Filipovic
    "New Home School Law a Threat" by Katie Brown
    "The Gender Wage Gap Lie" by Hanna Rosin
    "Executive Summary: Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry" by Mary Bauer and Mónica Ramírez

    Appendix A: How to Benefit from Peer Review and Collaboration
    Appendix B: Templates for Organizing Arguments
    Appendix C: Sample Rhetorical Analysis

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