CHW 3M: How to Construct an Argument

Whether you are writing an essay, filming a documentary, or delivering a presentation, analysis and evidence are essential. Thus, we are going to focus on the relationship between evidence and analysis for a few days.

Let’s begin with  the familiar.

Take 5 minutes to answer the following question in OneNote (or the format of your choice):

What do gladiator fights tell us about the nature of the Roman Empire?

  1. Answer the question in the first sentence.  This first sentence must be analytical; do not include evidence.
  2. In point form, provide 4-5 pieces of evidence that support the analysis in the first sentence. Do not consult external sources; instead, refer to our discussion/demos on Friday.

The Next Step:

This approach–ask a question, state your argument, and provide your evidence–is the basis for our academic traditions.  Today,  we want to apply this approach to something new. Well, new for you: the question has been considered countless times. Remember, however, that our goal isn’t to regurgitate someone else’s argument; you need to do the leg work. Think of it this way: the odds of your constructing a new argument about anything is slim. Chances are that someone has argued the same thing before. Sooner or later, however, you will argue something new and brilliant; if you are ready, knowing how to construct your argument will win you the adoration of millions.

Why did the Roman Empire fall?

The Rules/Guidelines:

  1. You must consult four to five sources. Three of these sources must be from the textbook, library databases, learn360, google books,  or google scholar.  If you choose to use a website as your final source, you need to carefully check its quality.  On Wednesday, we will be looking critically at your choices.
  2. On the “Collapse of an Empire” tab in OneNote, you will organize all of your findings by source. You need to provide the bibliographic information for the source (I suggest easybib.com), and track the ideas from the source. This process should take 1  1/2 classes.
  3. As you add these notes, you MUST make a distinction between your ideas, paraphrased statements, and direct quotations.
  4. On Wednesday, you will construct your argument. On the “Why Rome Fell” tab (which you will create) you will re-organize your findings. Begin by reading over your work from yesterday, and deciding on a few categories for your research. An example of such a category might be aggressive enemies. Please note that you are merely copying/pasting individual points from the “Collapse of an Empire” tab into the headings you have created on your “Why Rome Fell” tab.
  5. At the top of your “Why Rome Fell” tab, write your thesis. Your thesis should answer the original question (Why did the Roman Empire Fall); it should also make clear and direct links to the categories you have created.


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