MLK Jr. Peer Editing Feedback

Throughout all 3 classes today I saw some common challenges all students were facing in writing their analysis of Letter from a Birmingham Jail. As such, here is some feedback that might help you shape revisions before Wednesday’s due date:

Thesis Statements:

All thesis statements should contain four basic elements in response to the prompt:

Author & Title, address author’s Language & Arrangement, summarize author’s claim, address author’s purpose in writing the argument:

Here’s the formula

In his (insert adjective) letter, (insert author’s full name) address major language choices and the overall arrangement, summarize claim, address purpose.

So, something like:

In his poignant Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. logically refutes the eight clergymen’s major arguments against his civil disobedience and strongly asserts that integration is an inevitability, in order to gain the clergymen’s support of his quest for unity and Christian brotherhood in the South.

On Analysis:

All of you addressed WHAT King was doing with language in his letter to strengthen his argument and offered text evidence of it; however, many did not address How MLK’s language and arrangement was likely to affect the clergymen when they read it and make them more likely to act on his behalf in support of integration. (To receive an 8 or 9 you MUST do this!)

Remember there are three basic moves that need to be addresses at least once, if not more, in each body paragraph:

1. What is the author doing with language?
2. Where is he doing it in context of the letter?
3. How does it affect the clergymen and move them to act on MLK’s behalf?

And finally some writing rules and suggestions:

  • Do not use contractions
  • Italicize the title of the letter
  • the “South” is a proper noun and geographical region–capitalize it
  • Use the author’s full name the first time, then last name only
  • Always end a body paragraph with a crystallization of the analysis, and then a transition to the next point of analysis–you should be able to do this in a single sentence
  • Look at the Didion model essay as a framework for this essay
  • Frame your conclusion around Aristotle’s advice on the Classical Argument Arrangement handout I gave you last Friday
  • Comment on this post and I WILL respond with my best answers.


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