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Essay 2: Evaluating an Argument Overview - Freshman Essays

Essay 2: Evaluating an Argument Overview

Essay 2: Evaluating an Argument


For your second essay assignment, you will be asked to write a critical evaluation of An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Davis Guggenheim and starring Al Gore. As we’ve discussed in class, films (and documentaries, in particular) share many of the same properties as written essays, including an overarching thesis, logically-organized evidence, and a concluding message. For this reason, you are to evaluate this film in the same manner that you would evaluate a written text, providing your readers with an assessment of the film’s argument, as well as the quality of its supporting evidence (facts, statistics, interviews, etc). It is worth noting that most credible documentaries try to maintain an objective viewpoint of their subject(s), but that doesn’t mean that they lack a central thesis. If the filmmakers do not make a direct claim over the course of the film, ask yourself: Why would they bother making this film? What issue(s) are they bringing to light? What purpose does the film serve, and what impact is it trying to make? Answering this question will supply you with the documentary’s implicit thesis.


For this assignment, you will compose an evaluative essay in which you assess the accuracy and credibility of Al Gore’s argument. Your thesis should not state “I agree / disagree.” Rather, you should make a clear, direct claim as to whether or not Gore’s argument is accurate and support your position by analyzing both evidence from the film and the arguments put forth by critical sources.

Your essays must be a minimum of 3.5 pages in length and formatted to MLA specifications. You must also incorporate at least two critical sources in your essay, which must be properly cited using parenthetical citations and a separate works cited page (Note: We will be discussing several reviews of the film in class, which you can find in our textbook). As a useful guide, consider the following:

  1. An introductory paragraph that
    1. Begins with a hook on the topic of climate change.
    2. Provides a brief summary of the film and its thesis.
    3. Concludes with your thesis, which should offer an evaluation of the film and the effectiveness of its central argument.
  2. An adequate number of body paragraphs (minimum of 3) that
    1. Begin with clear topic sentences that define the topic or scope of your paragraphs.
    2. Incorporate factual evidence from both the film and your critical sources. (MEAL body paragraphs are recommended)
    3. Utilize direct quotes from both the film and your critical sources.
    4. Contain an detailed evaluation of the information you provide.
    5. Use a concluding or transition sentence.
    6. Address any potential counter-arguments to your position.
  3. A conclusion paragraph, which should
    1. Reiterate the film’s thesis.
    2. Reiterate your own thesis / claim.
    3. Provide your reader with ‘food for thought’ – what are we to do with the information we’ve acquired?