Argumentative-Thematic Analysis of a Play: Arcadia

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You have learned a lot about written argumentation techniques in the
chapters we have covered from Cooper and Patton (Chapters 3+4), and
have studied one of the most well-known postmodern comedies in
theatre, Arcadia. But, how can we connect drama to formal argumentation and critical thinking? In an odd “meta” twist,
you will see that not only is a work of literature, such as a play, an exercise in logic, but your own essay, in proving your
point with logic and reason, also demonstrates a prevalent theme in Arcadia: the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge.
Because “good” writing of any genre is inherently logical.
Prompt
You will identify what you believe to be the one most important theme in Arcadia. In the first half of your essay, you will
demonstrate that this theme exists, and in the second half of your essay, you will argue why you think this theme is “the
keystone” to Stoppard’s theatrical “argument.” In other words, you are not writing about what theme is the most
valuable to you personally, but rather which theme you think Stoppard values most based on your reading of the play. As
with any academic essay, you will sustain your argument with evidence from throughout Arcadia in order to drive your
points home, and you will take into consideration an opposing point of view to lend your argument fairness and
objectivity.
Minimum requirements
• Upload a rough draft of 3 full pages and then participate in peer review workshops
o Identify and highlight what you believe to be the thesis, premises, counterarguments, refutations, and
concessions in another peer’s rough draft, followed by an end note evaluating his/her work.
• Give readers a clear, specific thesis that states your position
• Must include a counterargument paragraph (with concession and refutation, see pgs. 79-83)• Must be at least 4-6 full pages, 1” margins, double-spaced in MLA Format, works cited
• Free of grammatical/mechanical errors
A successful essay will…
• Ensure that the argument is logically sequenced and coherent (see ch. 4)
• Contain two effective summaries (see ch. 3) – one in the introduction briefly summarizing Arcadia, and one
in the conclusion summarizing your main arguments (i.e. your essay).
• Be comprised of TEA/PIE paragraphs (topic-evidence-analysis/point-information-explanation)
• Have clearly identifiable “elements of written argument” (p. 85)
• Find numerous examples from both acts of the play to substantiate your POV
• Correctly use “joining words” to help establish your stance (p. 83)
• Have a reasonable counterargument that implements empathy (see Rogerian strategy, p. 81)
Readings and resources
• Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
• Our Really Exciting Textbook (AKA Writing Logically, Thinking Critically)
• Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting Guide

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