Writing Assignment: Respond to King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (Essay Sample)

Length: 300 typed words (about one page)
Audience: the instructor
Structure and Organization: The essay must be well-structured and paragraph must be well-developed with evidence from the text to support your assertions.
Format: Use MLA style (see “MLA Sample Paper” and/or EasyWriter p.253). Double space your essay in Times Roman pt 12. Do not write a separate title page. In your upper left hand corner, double spaced, include your name, your instructor, the course, and the date of submission. Create a Header in the upper right corner by using your header/footer feature. Give your essay a precise, interesting title, and center your title on the page.
Topics/Questions to consider:
1. How does Martin Luther King, Jr. create an appeal to our emotion? Cite examples of what you consider the most effective instances of that appeal.
2. What types of evidence does King use in his argument? Cite examples.
3. Modeling a Master. Using King’s “letter” as your model, compose a letter to a target audience which examines a situation that you deem to be unfair and advocates specific action to right the wrong. First, you will need to spend some time studying the master. After reading the ‘Letter,” use the following outline to analyze King’s rhetorical strategies; mark passages and make marginal notes to denote each component listed:
I. King’s Introduction
• Presents the issue
• Explains how this situation came about
• Establishes common ground with his audience
• Adopts a tone that is both personal and academic
• Provides logical analysis of the situation at hand (appeal to logos) and invokes value appeals (pathos)
II. King’s Concession
• Anticipates and articulates the opposition’s case
• Shows his understanding of the opposition’s views
• Addresses the opposition’s case; introduces his refutation with a key word, “wait!”
• Appeals to pathos through the use of personal experience; create audience empathy, even as he asserts his case against the opposition
III. King’s Rebuttal—Evidence and Appeals
• Uses definition and analysis/appeal to logos
• Uses appeals to authority/logos
• Uses examples/logos and pathos
• Uses comparison/logos and pathos
• Uses common ground values appeals/pathos
IV. King’s Closing
• Regains audience empathy
• Strikes common ground by expressing shared needs and values
• States a clear “call to action”
• Creates a final sentence that capitalizes on use of first-person plural and resonates with “scintillating” imager

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