Using Evidence to Build Arguments Why use evidence?

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UGS 302 – Cinema of Subversion with Prof. Lewis

Using Evidence to Build Arguments
Why use evidence?

Using evidence is a persuasive way to convey your opinion or illustrate your point. You are probably familiar with evidence as it pertains to the social and hard sciences: statistics, facts, or research studies. In the liberal arts, arguments are supported with critical analysis, theories, comparisons and conclusions. Supporting your opinion with evidence will bolster arguments. Using the following example, we’ll walk through the process of how to identify the type of evidence you need and how and where to find it.

Sample topic: George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (NotLD) and its critique of American society
Step 1: Identify issues occurring in American society at the time of the film’s release that would provoke George Romero to create a film critiquing American Society.
Using background information, such as Gale Virtual Reference Library, find a film synopsis or critique that mentions what some people felt Romero was commenting on. Source of background information suggested the following:

  1. Paranoia about the Nuclear Age due to the Cold War

  2. Upheaval in social arenas, like civil rights for African-Americans and women

  3. Fracture of the typical family unit or “nuclear family”

I’ll focus on finding evidence just for civil rights for African-Americans and women.

Step 2: Pick one piece of evidence to brainstorm search terms that will help you find what you’re looking for.

To illustrate how NotLD discusses elements of the civil rights movement, I use the following keywords to find what I’m looking for:

Film, Director or Genre:


Represented in film as:

Night of the Living Dead

Civil rights

African-Americans or Duane Jones

George Romero

Equal rights or Feminism


Step 3: Using the search terms, find articles that support your argument with evidence.

For instance, using the search terms above, I found an article entitled “History and Horror: Living the Past Through the Living Dead” by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. This article from, from a peer-reviewed journal Screen Education, helps support my argument with specific mention of the civil rights movement and racism within the film’s visual text.

Creating a Search Strategy

Before beginning to search for evidence to build your arguments, consider what types of evidence you want to find and then develop a search strategy to find it. Use the sheet below as a guide.

Write down your paper topic:

Example: George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and its relationship to the civil rights movement of the 1960s

What search terms will you use to find the evidence you’re looking for?
Example: “Night of the Living Dead” and “civil rights or “African-American”

Film, Director or Genre:


Represented in film as:

What arguments or claims will you make?

Example: Night of the Living Dead uses a strong black male hero to subvert the stereotypical black male character

What pieces of evidence would support your argument/claims?

Examples: Types of heroes normally depicted in films of the period; close readings of scenes with Duane Jones; events during the late 1960s involving black males

Created by University of Texas Libraries, Fall 2011

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