Methods of Argument:

Holdstein, Deborah H. and Danielle Aquiline. Methods of Argument: Anthology of Readings. Oxford UP,

2019. $39.95. 336 pages. ISBN-10: 0190855711, ISBN-13: 978-0190855710.

Strengths:

  • Materiality: The paper is very good paper on which the student can take great notes with pen or pencil. The book has a great size and very handy. Great cover.
  • Structure: Besides the different tables of content, each essay ends with a “Reflecting and Discussing” and “Connecting and Writing” part in which the authors ask questions on the essay and want the students to engage with it. They put emphasis on symbolic readings, vocabulary, logic, further source work that connect to the essays, etc. At the end of each chapter, they have an additional “Question” in which the authors ask about the importance of the essays, their accessibility to the students themselves, and which revert to the overarching topic (i.e. race and identity, etc.)
  • Content: The questions are accessible to students in that there are easier and more difficult ones. First, the questions usually ask about the format and genre, and then these questions are more tailored toward the overall topic and go more in-depth. The authors want students to connect not only the different themes within one text, but also all the texts within a section with each other. Toward the end of the book, students can find the “Create Your Own Connections” section, which asks further questions pertaining to the student’s writing and how to implement these connections in their writing.
  • Pedagogy: This book is great in terms of asking questions for students to critically engage with the book and with the writing. They specifically ask to find the arguments and to see how the author of a text works with his/her argument. Also, because these questions start out easier and become more difficult, students do not feel lost right away but see how easy it can be to become a part of the conversation with the text. The authors picked a great variety of texts ranging from early American literary texts to contemporary ones that talk about today’s issues.

Weaknesses:

  • Materiality: For its convenient size, the book is quite heavy and expensive for its size.
  • Structure: To probably save space and money, the texts within the text are not clearly separate from each other which, at times, makes it hard to read them. Also, because this book requires students to have a hands-on approach with it, the font should have been bigger for students to make more notes and being able to highlight things better. There is no extra space to take notes.
  • Content: The texts and questions are partially very difficult considering an E 110 classroom. There is no additional vocabulary list that explains difficult and foreign terminologies. Even though they try to connect the questions to present day issues, the authors often struggle with it as it feels forced. The page “Create your own Connections” is literally on page at the end of the book that one can miss very easily.
  • Pedagogy: Many of the texts are just too difficult to read and understand for college freshman. The authors often use the same question format for different essays, which makes it boring to work with, at times, and too easy for students to really think about the writing.