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8.6: Assignment: Writing the Antithesis Essay

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    Based on the most current and most recently revised version of your working thesis, write a brief essay where you identify, explain, and answer the antithesis to your position. Keep in mind that the main goal of this essay is to think about an audience of readers who might not agree with you and to answer at least some of the questions and complaints they might have about your research project.  Be sure to include evidence about both the antithesis and your working thesis, and be sure to answer the objections hostile readers might have.

    Questions to consider as  you write your first draft
    • Have you revisited your working thesis?  Based on the research and writing you have done up to this point, how has your working thesis changed?
    • Have you done enough research on the antithetical position to have a clear understanding of the objections?  (You might want to review the work you’ve done with your annotated bibliography at this point).  What does this research suggest about the opposition’s points and your points?
    • What sort of brainstorming have you done in considering the antithesis?  Have you thought about the “opposite” of your thesis and the reasons why someone might hold that point of view?  Have you considered the “alternatives” to your working thesis and why someone might find one or more of these alternative viewpoints more persuasive than your points?
    • Have you clearly imagined and considered what your “hostile audience” is like?  What sorts of people do you think would object to your working thesis?  What kind of motivations would hostile audiences have to disagree with you?
    • In considering the objections to your working thesis, do you believe that the evidence is on your side and you can refute hostile audiences’ objections directly with the research you have done?  
    • When you compare the points raised by the antithesis to the points of your working thesis, do you think that the advantages and values of your working thesis outweigh those of the antithesis?
    • Are there some concessions that you’ve made to your working thesis based on the points raised by the antithetical point of view?  How have you incorporated these concessions into your revised working thesis?
    Revision and Review

    During the peer review process, you should encourage your readers to review your rough draft with the same sort of skeptical view that a hostile audience is likely to take toward your points.  If your readers already disagree with you, this won’t be difficult.  But if they more or less agree with the argument you are trying to make with your research, ask them to imagine for a moment what a hostile reader might think as they examine your essay.  You might even want to help them with this a bit by describing for your reviewers the hostile audience you are imagining.

    Hyperlink: For guidelines and tips for working with your classmates in peer review sessions, see Chapter four “How To Collaborate and Write With Others,” particularly the section “Peer Review as Collaboration.”

    • Do your readers clearly understand the antithetical positions you are focusing on in your essay?  Do they think that the antithetical positions you are focusing on in your essay are the most important ones?  Do they believe you have done enough research on the antithetical positions to adequately discuss them in your essay?
    • What other objections to the argument you are trying to make with your working thesis do your readers have?  In other words, have they thought of antithetical arguments that you haven’t considered in your essay?
    • Do your readers think that you have clearly answered the antithetical arguments to your working thesis?  Do they accept the logic of your arguments?  Do they believe incorporating more evidence into the essay would make your answer to the antithetical arguments better?
    • Imagining themselves as members of the “hostile audience,” do your readers find themselves at least partially persuaded by the answers you have to the antithetical arguments in your essay?  Why or why not?