Essay # 2 Prompt: Analyzing and Evaluating
A text in the Context of Outside Sources
Min 5 pages pgs, typed, double-spaced, MLA format
Film Summary from The House I Live In Official Website
As America remains embroiled in conflict overseas, a less visible war is taking place at
home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage on future
generations of Americans. Over forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for more than
45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor
communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more
available today than ever before. Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In
captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs.
From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to
the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s longest war, offering a
definitive portrait and revealing its profound human rights implications.
Description of 13th from Wikipedia:
13th is a 2016 American documentary by director Ava DuVernay. The film explores the
“intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;”
 it is titled after
the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which freed the slaves and
prohibited slavery, with the exception of slavery as punishment for a crime.
DuVernay contends that slavery has been perpetuated in practices since the end of the
American Civil War through such actions as criminalizing behavior and enabling police to
arrest poor freedmen and force them to work for the state under convict leasing;
suppression of African Americans by disenfranchisement, lynchings and Jim Crow;
politicians declaring a war on drugs that weigh more heavily on minority communities
and, by the late 20th century, mass incarceration of people of color in the United States.
She examines the prison-industrial complex and the emerging detention-industrial
complex, demonstrating how much money is being made by corporations from such
For this paper, you will be comparing the documentary The House I Live In OR 13th with
at least 3 outside texts (scholarly articles, newspaper articles, books, periodicals, or films).
Your primary text is, the documentary, and you will be looking at how the other
argument(s) either illustrates and underscores the argument made, extends beyond the
existent argument (advances, develops) or whether it complicates and perhaps weakens the
argument. You will be doing research to find these three credible and scholarly outside
sources to analyze and compare with Postman. The purpose of this paper is to investigate
what happens when you bring different voices together. Your thesis for this paper is how
your outside sources affect this central text.
—-àIf you like, you are more than welcome to use any of the articles we have discussed
in class (listed above), but you have to find TWO on your own
Successful papers will:
• Identify the claims each text makes about mass incarceration, race, and the war
• Explain where these arguments contradict /challenge the primary text and
where they seem to be in agreement.
• Make genuine connections as to how your outside sources affect your primary
source and what this means overall. What do these sources add to the overall
1.Illustrate or Qualify: to provide examples, additional evidence, cases or arguments that help
explain a position; to present material that illuminates or supports what an author argues
(but may not be explicitly mentioned by that author).
2. Clarify: to bring into focus, to help explain, illuminate, or elucidate. Providing evidence,
examples, stories, cases or support that make something easier to understand or that
sharpen the point made.
3. Extend: to advance, develop, expand or take further some element of an existing argument.
Extending an argument involves presenting additional evidence or reasons that are in line
with the original argument but go beyond it.
4. Complicate: to present evidence, arguments or information that is at odds with an author’s
position, and which suggests the position needs to be revised or qualified (i.e. that its scope
or degree of certainty needs revision, or that exceptions have not been considered.)
Complicating an author’s argument is not quite the same as disagreeing with it, although
disagreement may be involved. It usually involves suggesting that an author has not dealt
with the full complexity of an issue, has failed to consider relevant evidence, or that there is
a gap, shortcoming or limitation in an author’s account. Complicating an argument may
involve exposing problems, contradictions, or presenting counterexamples and
counterarguments that challenge some part of the argument.
Ideas for Thesis Statements
*Note- these are just templates for ideas
All three of these authors examine issues similar to the ones discussed in The
House I Live In. ________________ addresses the issue of ________________, and
(clarifies, illustrates, etc) the documentary’s argument by
__________________________. _________________ discusses the idea of
_______________________, and (underscores) his analysis of _______________ by
showing __________________________. The third author claims
and this really complicates the documentary’s main claim, but it doesn’t
necessarily weaken it because doesn’t back up his/her argument with
enough evidence. Ultimately, the documentary makes a strong case for why we
need to change our drug policies in this country.
The three authors address issues related to the documentary’s argument, but in
different ways. __________________ offers an alternate viewpoint of
the______________ portion of Eugene Jarecki’s argument (cause of the problem,
solution, etc). He/she (illustrates, complicates, etc) his idea by
________________________. In contrast, _________________ addresses the portion
of Jarecki’s argument that deals with ____________________ (effects, solutions, etc).
He/she (clarifies, illustrates, etc) her idea by _____________________________ and
ultimately, this strengthens Jarecki’s argument. Ultimately, I believe that Jarecki
effectively supports his argument that , but I simply don’t see
enough logical evidence to support his argument of .
Author 1, in his article, “….” Addresses how . Author 2, who wrote “…”,
pays attention to two factors: and . The 3rd author,
author of “…..”, claims that . While all three authors examine
the issue of success, Author 1 and Author 2 support and strengthen Eugene Jarecki’s
claims. However, Author 3 complicates his argument. Overall, Jarecki’s argument
does not provide enough solid evidence and could have been strengthened by
Introduction: Introduce the topic and the documentary. Accurately and
effectively introduce and contextualize the 3 articles, their projects, and
arguments. Also, clearly signal your reader with what you plan to discuss in your
paper (How the 3 outside texts affect Jeracki’s argument. And overall, whether or
not he has a logically sound and effective argument) This is your thesis statement
and should be the last 1-4 sentences in your introduction.)
Body Paragraphs: Analyze Jeracki’s argument through the comparison of other
texts in order to demonstrate and describe how Jeracki’s documentary is being
extended, clarified, or complicated. Make genuine connections in how this
affects Jeracki’s overall argument (does the sources strengthen or weaken Jeracki’s
claim? Why or why not?). The essay will investigate whether or not Jeracki has
made a convincing and rhetorically sound argument based upon the connections
made to the other texts. You can do this in your body paragraphs, or in a separate
paragraph at the end of your paper before your conclusion.
Effectively use textual evidence to support your analysis of the arguments. Your
ability to adequately introduce, correctly cite, and effectively comment on your
quotes will be considered here. You should also have at least three credible
outside sources for this paper.
Organization: Use an effective structure that smoothly guides the reader from one
idea to the next. Your careful attention to transitioning and topic sentences will
be considered here. I shouldn’t get lost or confused reading your paper.
Grammar: Have thoroughly edited your paper so that sentences are readable and
appropriate for an academic audience. Grammar and sentence level issues are
considered here. PROOFREAD!
Conclusion: Comment on the overall effectiveness of Jeracki’s argument and how
this text has influenced you (or other readers). Why is this topic important? You
can bring in your opinion here as well. What happens to a primary text’s
argument when other arguments are introduced? Essentially, what happens when
10 Page Length/ MLA / works cited: Needs to be at least 5 full pages, in