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Language Arts & Disciplines Composition & Creative Writing

Essays and Arguments: A Handbook for Writing Student Essays

by (author) Ian Johnston

Broadview Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2015
Composition & Creative Writing
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
    List Price

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How does one help undergraduate students learn quickly how to produce effectively organized, persuasive, well-reasoned essays? This book offers a straightforward, systematic introduction to some of the key elements of the construction of arguments in essay form. The focus here is on practical advice that will prove immediately useful to students—recommended procedures are emphasized, and detailed examples of academic and student writing are provided throughout.

The book introduces the basics of argumentation before moving on to the structure and organization of essays. Planning and outlining the essay, writing strong thesis statements, organizing coherent paragraphs, and writing effective introductions and conclusions are among the subjects discussed. A separate section concisely explores issues specific to essays about literary works.

About the author

IAN JOHNSTON is the author of Changes in the Island Landscape, a study of his native Prince Edward Island.

Ian Johnston's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“In its focus on argument as the reason to write college essays in the first place, Essays And Arguments is a valuable resource for undergraduates. Ian Johnston shows how sentences and paragraphs become ideas, and in doing so equips students not just to construct their own arguments, but also to identify what is and is not an argument in the writing of others. Essays and Arguments is that rare composition text that will help students become better readers, as well as better writers.” — Jonathan Beecher Field, Clemson University

“Teaching argumentation and essay-writing is extraordinarily difficult, and learning to argue and write is even harder, but Ian Johnston’s Essays and Arguments provides an excellent resource for both writing instructors and students. Johnston’s handbook is the product of years of in-class experience and offers a wealth of information about logic and argument, structure and evidence, and rhetoric and revision—all delivered with clarity and accessibility. The handbook includes substantial sections on writing about literature, but it discusses a range of essay genres (including review essays and historical essays) such that other disciplines will benefit from the book too. Johnston’s examples are clear, wide-ranging, vivid, and enormously helpful. Essays and Arguments is a worthwhile addition to any writing instructor’s library and a useful tool for any student.” — Lindsey Michael Banco, University of Saskatchewan

“Ian Johnston’s book is not trendy. It covers essential, enduring troubles of argumentation, especially matters of organization and structure. Johnston combines a lucid introduction to everyday logic with practical advice on composing arguments. The bulk of the text—examples of patterns typically found in novice academic papers and the revised versions of those examples—are familiar but not tired. In other words, the examples feel helpfully accessible. The book deserves serious consideration for standard university writing courses.” — Glenn Simshaw, Scripps College

“For years I’ve been recommending the old, online edition of this text to my undergraduate students; it’s great to see a new edition of Essays and Arguments. I’ve been teaching composition in one context or another since 1987, and this is the only book I’ve ever used with students that has had an immediate and significant effect in improving their writing.” — Maureen Okun, Vancouver Island University

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