english 124 essay on mass incarceration in the u s

Essay Two Draft Instructions

General Requirements

Essay Two is a 4-6 page MLA-formatted, argumentative essay that will allow you to think about a focused aspect of the problem of mass incarceration in the US.

Page Count: A paper with a minimum count of four pages means that the fourth page should be completely full to the bottom margin.

MLA Formatted: You all have strong and accurate MLA essay templates. GREAT. Cross that off the list. Now, focus on correctly formatting MLA in-text citations by using the “In-Text Citation Cheat Sheet“; adding citations after summaries, paraphrases, and direct quotations; placing commas and periods inside quotation marks when they appear next to each other; and using ellipses when you eliminate words in direct quotations but ONLY in the middle of passages, not at the beginning or end.

Source Requirements

This essay requires you to use a minimum of THREE different sources from those I’ve provided and that you’ll find, below.

Each body paragraph must include at least TWO pieces of evidence from different texts. This is because you need more than one writer weighing in on each important subclaim.

Contents of Essay

Introduction: Introductions should begin with a Powerful Essay Opener, include necessary context for the debate, logically lead to the main claim providing all necessary information, and should conclude with your main claim.

Main Claim: In argumentative essays, you defend focused main claims. They must be arguable (meaning they must be relevant to the prompt, sufficiently focused given the page-count limitation, and that others would disagree with them).

Body Paragraphs:

Subclaims: Each body paragraph must begin with an arguable subclaim that helps to logically and completely support the main claim. Each subclaim must by supported evidence from at least two of our authors; properly embedded paraphrases and quotations with signal phrases, citations, and explanation; and must link back to the main claim.

Counterargument/Rebuttal: Argumentative essays must include counterarguments (opposing points of view from actual, not imaginary, authors) and your rebuttal. You can devote a whole paragraph to a counterargument and rebuttal or address one or more counterarguments/rebuttals within one or more body paragraphs, as long as each body paragraph is focused on one point. At least one counterargument and rebuttal is required in all argumentative essays.

Conclusion: Your paper should include a conclusion appropriate to a short paper, meaning that, although it should relate back to the main claim, it should not recap what’s already been said. Your reader can easily remember what you just said if it was clear. Usually phrases like, “In conclusion,” suggest that an unnecessary recap is coming, so avoid this, too. Instead, use your conclusion to build (very closely) upon what’s already been stated and conclude your essay by giving the reader something to think about that relates to the main claim.

Works Cited Page: Woo hoo! No Works Cited page is required if you’re using texts and/or videos I’ve supplied.

CAUTION – What Not to Include: A Fatal Contradiction: Often students write to the last page of their essay and then argue something that contradicts what they just spent pages defending. If you change your position through the writing process, that’s okay. But when that happens, you must go back and revise your paper from the beginning. OR, you may concede an idea that seems to counter your position. This is okay, too. You can agree with parts of a debate and disagree with others. You just have to make sure that if you’re contradicting something you’ve already said, you go back and amend those contradictory statements. Neglecting to deal with these contradictions undermines the whole paper.

Essential Skills to Focus On:

  • Creating Strong Essay Introductions: Use the techniques we’ve been working on to accomplish this.
  • Outlining to build a logical and complete sequence from the main claim through the subclaims. To test: Once you’ve drafted your essay, read only your main claim and the first sentence of each body paragraph. Do you get a complete and logical understanding of your argument from these? If not, how might you revise to accomplish this?
  • Creating accurate MLA formatting and in-text citations every time: Practice picking up the “In-Text Citation Cheat Sheet” every time you create a citation. Don’t practice incorrect formatting.
  • Avoiding logical fallacies: Use the “Logical Fallacy Cheat Sheet” to look for fallacies in our source texts and in your essay.
  • Eliminating You: Do a search to make sure that there are no instances of “you” in your essay.
  • Introducing Authors: Keep practicing succinctly and smoothly introducing key authors.

According to Ava DuVernay, Academy Award nominated director of the documentary 13TH, “Xxxx” (00:00:00).

Boom! Done. Don’t carry on but don’t leave us guessing who your key sources are either.

  • Properly embedding summaries, paraphrases, and quotations with rhetorically accurate signal phrases, accurate in-text citations, and explanation.
    • Be sure that quotations flow grammatically with the signal phrases. Eliminate unnecessary words from the quotation, focusing only on the points relevant to your essay. Use ellipses when eliminating words in the middle of a passage. When making slight changes for capitalization or grammatical flow, use [square brackets].
    • Never end a paragraph with a quotation except in the rare instance you want to conclude a whole essay with a very powerful and self-explanatory quotation.
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