Essay 2, part 1: Argumentative Essay (The New Jim Crow)

English 1301

Your second essay is an argumentative / persuasive piece based on the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The purpose of an argumentative or persuasive essay is to convince your reader that your position on a particular issue is credible.  Argumentation is not about proving that you are right or wrong, but instead about demonstrating that you can support your position with solid evidence, thus presenting a viable perspective.


Topic: After reading The New Jim Crow, write an essay that discusses how Michelle Alexander:

addresses the question of mass incarceration

evaluates the strength or usefulness of her claims.

Defend your position with evidence from the text. Develop your argument by including relevant personal experience, anticipating counterclaims or competing views, and giving at least 2 examples from history or current events.


Dates to Remember:

Monster quiz over The New Jim Crow: Tuesday, 19 March promptly at the beginning of class.

PRG of E2 thesis statements:  Tuesday, 19 March (bring 4 hard copies of thesis to class; drafts must be in-hand, ready to go by the beginning of class to earn credit.)

PRG on E2 drafts:   Tuesday, 26 March (bring 4 typed, complete copies of your paper to class; drafts must be in-hand, ready to go by the beginning of class to earn credit.)

Final Paper Due:   Tuesday, 9 April @ beginning of class. Submit through


Secondary Sources Required:        three, from library resources / databases only

Number of Web (“Open internet”) Sources:  one. You may use information from, but it may not be your main or only secondary source.


Please note that if you choose to use additional internet sources anyway, your paper will be reduced by one letter grade per improperly located source.


Length of Paper:  3-4 pages (works cited may not start until page 4, and the paper must be a minimum of 3 completely full pages)


Getting Started

Try answering the questions below to help you get started.

  • What is my issue?  How can I define it?
  • What readers am I trying to reach with my discussion of this issue?
  • What are some related issues that I may need to address?
  • How can I narrow the issue for an essay-length discussion?
  • What are my views on the issue? What is my position on the issue? How can I state my position?
  • What 2-4 major points will I make in support of my position?
  • What evidence supports my position from The New Jim Crow?
  • Does my argument include a call for action? What do I want readers to do, if anything?
  • Does the issue have a compromise position, or is there no middle ground? 

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