Argumentative Paper

Posted By on January 4, 2007

Or
“You Should Give Me an A on This Paper”

.: I recently downloaded all my emails from gmail, and I rediscovered one of the first emails I sent. It was the rough draft of an essay I wrote my freshman year. Since last semester was the first semester I ever received an A in an English class, and since I think the essay is pretty damn funny — if you don’t mind me saying so — I thought I’d share with you my lazy, ill-conceived literary masterpiece.

Cody Cobb
Don Shipley
Thinking & Writing 1302
26 October 2004

You Should Give Me an A on This Paper

.: I have a history of poor grades in all of my English classes. From my first forty in Composition to my most recent F in Thinking & Writing 1302, there has never been a moment when I have performed satisfactorily to my English instructors. In college, however, grades actually matter; they will follow me no matter where I decide to go, whether I choose medical school or film school. They also determine if I get to keep certain scholarships that require I maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher. I figure the best way to do well in this class is to write an excellent essay. By doing so, you have no choice but to give me an A on this paper.

.: There are three main reasons why you should give me an A. First, this essay merits an A. In the process of writing the paper, I have debated my claim; analyzed you, my audience; presented numerous viewpoints opposed to my own; refuted those opposing viewpoints; and supported my thesis with sufficient evidence. In addition to meeting all the requirements of an argumentative paper, as you will see, this paper is also original and creative. I ask you, however, to first read the entirety of the essay with an uncritical eye. Initial judgment of this type of essay could potentially ruin its effect and, ultimately, its purpose.

.: The second argument is one I already mentioned in the introduction: I need to boost my grade in your class and the best way to do that is to write an A paper. With two C-minuses and an F, I need no less than an A to keep my average at the C level. A decent grade is not only important to me as a student but to my family as well. They need to know I am not wasting my time and money at this university; the easiest and most effective way to let them know is to show them an impressive GPA.

.: Finally, before I began writing this paper, I told my friends and family the thesis, and they were highly enthusiastic. Often they responded with a statement like, “I would never have the guts to do what you are doing. You deserve an A just for actually doing this.” I agree to an extent. While this paper is a risky move on my part, the risk alone does not merit an A. For the “risk factor” to be applicable, the rest of the paper has to function as well. In a lesser paper with the same thesis, the risk undertaken by the author would be wasted.

.: There are, as you have undoubtedly thought by now, several reasons for you to not give me an A on this paper. They can be divided into two main categories: the idea behind the paper and the execution. The counterarguments concerning the fundamental idea of my thesis involve chiefly philosophical objections; the dissenting opinions regarding the execution of the idea are based on more technical matters.

.: In the right light, my thesis could be construed as a form of begging. Grades are not given at the request of the student; rather, they are what the student earned for an assignment. A paper with the thesis “you should give me an A on this paper” exists contrary to the nature of a graded assignment. And yet I am not begging. I truly feel this paper warrants an A, not just because I wish it so, but because I believe it meets the qualifications. I am not asking you to compromise your integrity by giving me an undeserved grade; I took a chance when I submitted this topic for approval and will accept whatever grade you deem appropriate.

.: Of course, for an essay to receive an A, it needs a complementary writing style to match its thesis. A great idea can be easily marred by a poor handling of language. My paper thus far has made unwavering use of self-referential prose. Self-referentiality is inherently gimmicky. A self-referential entity (in this case my paper) refers to itself before it exists, and it is this process of self-referral that defines the entity. This style of writing could ultimately distract you from the thesis. Referring again and again to a poorly written paper to argue that the paper warrants an A is one of the many logical “holes” that can undermine the entire essay. However, the converse is also true: referring to a well written paper to argue that the paper warrants an A will strengthen the argument. In other words, for this paper to be perfect it needs to be perfect.

.: Yet, you can argue that my using self-referentiality as a means to write this essay is, in a sense, illegitimate. It almost seems like a loophole for this assignment: by writing in this fashion, I am effectively creating something out of nothing. Whereas other students must work hard to develop a legitimate thesis and support it with physical, rather than philosophical, facts, I took the “easy way out” by using my self-conscious, self-referential thesis. I can attest, however, that writing this paper was not easy. The fact that I will turn this paper in the same morning I finish writing it should be some indication of the difficulty of the topic (as well as the laziness of the author, but more so the former).

.: As I mentioned in my email to you, it is impossible for me to write in the self-referential style without exploiting some of it bizarre properties for humorous purposes. Indeed, the paper thus far has maintained an air of irreverence in its approach to discuss the thesis, itself unconventional and unorthodox. The question, then, follows: does my humor fit in the mold of a formal argumentative essay? I say yes, because my use of humor in this paper is an appeal to emotion. Concepts like self-referentiality can be confusing when expressed in dry logical terms, but when coupled with humor they add new depth to the reader’s understanding. In a sense, I use humor to make this paper somewhat readable; whether I succeeded or not will be left to you to decide. (Be warned: there is a humorous analogy in the following paragraph involving The Rock and his recent movie. If you think this is inappropriate for a formal argumentative essay, please skip to the concluding paragraph once you have reached the phrase “unsound reasoning.”)

.: At this point, I have presented more arguments against my thesis than I have for it. Though I feel I offered adequate rebuttals for each of them, the relatively small number of arguments that support my thesis can be seen to contradict my earlier claim that I have “supported my thesis with sufficient evidence.” But to consider quantity as the only factor in determining the worth of an argument is unsound reasoning. I can offer several reasons why you should watch Walking Tall (high production values, The Rock’s appeal as an actor, a new interpretation of a film classic), but these reasons put together are not as convincing as the single counterargument: Walking Tall is a bad movie. The quality of the three reasons I gave to support my thesis and the rebuttals I made of the counterarguments are what will ultimately decide the fate of this paper.

.: “You should give me an A for this paper” might not seem like an arguable claim at first, but as I have shown, a case can be made for it. While many faults and impurities can be found in this paper, they actually serve a purpose: they are the focus of the arguments against the thesis and those counterargument’s rebuttals which make up bulk of the paper itself. The beauty of using self-referential logic is that I make it clear that my claim is debatable, but by following that path of logic I will ultimately conclude in favor of my claim.

.: Yeah, I pretty much deserved the B I got.

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Comments

17 Responses to “Argumentative Paper”

  1. David McCabe says:

    Needless to say, ths is the cleverest idea I have heard of in a long, long, long time. *Applause*.

  2. daneel says:

    if you really wrote this, then i don’t see how you were so bad in previous english assignments.

    anyways, brilliant essay!

  3. Noir says:

    He gave you a B? What a jerk. I have a Master’s in Writing and I never wrote anything so amazing in my entire life, much less for a college paper.

    Question: Did you plagiarize any of this? It’s just so far beyond the capacity of what one would expect from most college students. Maybe the Prof thought so too, hence the B?

  4. Katie says:

    Bravo, I enjoyed this very much. It reminds me of a paper submitted by a fellow student in my year 12 English class, in which he argued that it was racial vilification that was holding him back in English class and not his lack of ability or interest.

    It might pay to mention that he was asked to write a paper – on anything – just to prove that he had bothered to pay attention at all that semester. He received an A for it as he demonstrated that he mastered all the writing skills/styles that we had covered.

    It might also be of value to note that the student, the teacher and all of the students in the class were Caucasian and by choosing to argue racial vilification, which he did well, the student earned the respect of the teacher by taking a chance and the teacher retired at the end of that year still declaring that it was the best paper he’d read in his 30 year career.

  5. skp says:

    Kudos !!

    Amazing, and wat adds to the pleasure I got by reading this is I am a Computer Science graduate :-S .. hence I love language articles :D … bravo bravo….

  6. Robin Z says:

    That is pretty clever – I think I would have given you an A if I’d been the teacher.

    What kind of comments did the teacher write on it?

  7. Othello says:

    It was pretty good, though the lack of commas in some parts was painful. More commas might have gotten you an A, also longer paragraphs. It’s sort of like trying to read a machine gun.

  8. Cody says:

    I think I overdid it on the semicolons, personally.

  9. Matt says:

    You could not get an “A”. Giving one would have proved that the grader had been duped.

    I had a big grin on the whole time I read it.

    Bravo!

  10. STOpandthink says:

    Not a bad idea, but your writing didn’t deserve an A.

  11. Don Shipley says:

    Cody,

    It is a funny paper, but I still think it deserves the “B” that I gave it. I’m glad you think so too.

    Don Shipley

  12. Desert Fox says:

    Well written and overall your Prof should have given you an A for that excellent work.

  13. Tabitha says:

    Well, I am a college student and while your idea was amazing your paper wasn’t the greatest I’ve read. I have always held an “A” in my englsh classes, and your paper needed some help. First of all, Thesis’ are to be in the: State my claim because of A, B, and C format. Yours was not. Secondly your paragrapghs were short and you didn’t use very astounding writin techniques, however amazing idea and a pat on the back for your abilty to be such an effective smart butt. My composition teacher would have given me a “C” if I tured in something written in this form. That’s the real problem, no essay form exists here.

    Tabitha C.

  14. Sadie says:

    This belongs in a book, but not because it is some literary masterpiece. It is entertaining and the sort of thing people would find in books such as ‘Star Girl’ or ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’. Your paper is one of those silly “let’s go on and on but in a way that makes you want to keep reading” ones. Good job. I found it enamusing.

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