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Stasis Interrogation Essay

What is Statis?

In classical terms, the word “stasis” (or stases) literally means a “slowing down” or a standstill. Similarly, in rhetoric, we use stasis to point to an issue that is controversial and needs a decision before the argument can move forward. Stasis theory, therefore, can be used to identify and work through impasses in an argument. As our textbook explains, stasis theory is “a simple system for identifying the crux of an argument—what’s at stake in it” (387). And, we do this by asking four specific questions in sequence:

  1. What are the facts?
  2. How can the issue be defined?
  3. How much does it matter and why?
  4. What actions should be taken as a result?

Assignment Details

For this essay, you will attempt to understand the complexity of an issue by using stasis theory to interrogate a single article found in the textbook. The goal is to discover the various points at which you could enter the conversation. After analyzing your primary text, you will then offer a supported argument on one of the many points of contention you discover through the stasis analysis, using a secondary source (found in your textbook or through the UVU Library Databases). Unlike a rhetorical analysis or genre/medium analysis, this essay will focus mostly on the content of the argument rather than how the argument is made.

First, pick an essay in the back of your textbook (starting from page 817) that you find interesting. For a better reference, you may use the categorized menus on the inside back cover of the textbook to find an article that fits a specific genre or theme that piques your interest.

Then, after reading through your essay several times, use the following stasis questions to develop a rich analysis that both summarizes the issue and posits various alternative perspectives:

As you work through each stasis category, consider each question in developing your paragraphs; however, not every question needs to be directly addressed.

What are the facts?

• What happened, according to the article, to make this a debatable issue?
• What caused this issue to manifest or what factors existed in order to bring this issue to our attention?
• Do these “facts” stack up, in your opinion, or could some of them be questioned by others? Which ones and why?
• Do others have a differing opinion about what exactly happened to cause this issue to surface? Make sure to explain your answers.

How can the issue be defined?

• How does the article define the issue?
• Are there certain terms, parts, or categories that help define this issue for the author(s)?
• What are they and how are they defined?
• Do these definitions help or hurt your understanding of the issue?
• Would you define the issue or parts of the issue differently?
• If so, what terms, conditions, or criteria would you use to redefine this issue? Make sure to explain your answers.

How much does the issue matter and why?
• How serious is the issue according to the author?
• Are there any moral or ethical consequences related to this issue?
• Does the author propose immediate action be taken, or does the issue revolve around an understanding of the issue?
• What are the consequences if we don’t act?
• How serious are these consequences? Do you agree with the importance or seriousness of this issue? Do you feel there are any additional or missing moral or ethical implications? Make sure to explain your answers.

What actions should be taken as a result?
• What is currently being done to affect the issue?
• What does the author feel is working or not working about this current action?
• Does the author argue for a specific change in action or policy?
• What does the author feel we or others should do?
• How might others disagree with these proposed actions?
• Do you agree with the author’s proposed actions? If so, would you change any aspect of how or what needs to be done?
• If you don’t agree with the actions, what alternative actions could we take?

Next, based on your interrogation of the issue, pick one of the stasis questions that you had the most disagreement with the author’s position. Find a secondary source (either from the back of the book or online using the Library Databases) to write a short, but well-supported argument for your own perspective. Make sure that your argument has a claim and at least one reason to support it. Use your secondary source as evidence for your argument.

Style and Format
The format for this essay will follow the above instructions, looking first at the stasis questions regarding your textbook essay, and then making an argument using your secondary article. In terms of style and tone, you will want to keep in mind what our textbook states: “[An] appropriate writing style is one in which your language and the way that you arrange it suits your topic, your purpose, your stance, and your audience” (642).

Requirements: 5-7 pages, double-spaced, properly formatted

Imagine your audience are those most affected or most likely to be interested in this issue. This means that you will have to take into account your rhetorical situation, your stance on the issue, what stasis question you’re addressing, and what concerns your audience might have with the issue.

Textbook Help

• “What’s at Stake,” pp. 387-389
• “Appropriateness and Correctness,” pp. 642-643

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