Often, we think of a formal argument essay as a pro/con type of argument or maybe as a
presentation of a solution or a call to action. However, these types of writings are more debates
or final recommendation types of arguments rather than complex explorations of a topic.
Position based arguments often devolve into two-sided, simplistic debates if we, as writers, take
a position on a topic without a clear and thorough understanding and presentation of the
complexity and significance of a topic. And presentations of solutions or calls to action can also
be rather simplistic if we, as writers, do not first fully explore the complexity and significance of
Topics worth discussing and writing about are complex and have many more angles than two
opposing sides, and to achieve a more thorough, complex understanding of a topic, your first
essay asks that you produce a Formal Exploratory Argument Essay in which you address the
different ways we can understand and think about a significant and contemporary issue in our
culture. This essay also requires that you provide a significant discussion of why this topic is
relevant to you. Why do you want to invest time and effort in writing about and researching this
topic? Why choose this topic?
The purpose in having you write an exploratory essay at the beginning of the semester is to have
you explore and understand your research topic and its complexity well before moving on to a
more persuasive type of argument. Exploratory writing is often the first step in a complex and
involved research-argument writing process.