Crime and Culture Assignment #2: An Argument about Crime Narrative in Historical Context

Assignment:  Make an argument about how Haysett’s role as a media officer for the Los Angeles court shapes her account of the Simpson trial.

Common Readings:

  • Linda Williams, Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O. J. Simpson
  • Ronald N. Jacobs, “Narrative, Civil Society and Public Culture,” in Molly Andrews et al., eds., The Uses of Narrative:  Explorations in Sociology, Psychology, and Cultural Studies.
  • Jerrianne Haysett, Anatomy of a Trial:  Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson


An Argument about Crime Narrative(s) in Historical Context

For this paper, you will produce original analysis of Anatomy of a Trial as you develop an argument about how to understand the account in relation to its context.

Your paper will use Anatomy of a Trial as an entry point into the vast field of representations sparked by the OJ Simpson affair, and offer insights into how crime narratives relate to the world in which they are made.  Because the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman inspired so many competing interpretations – each drawing upon its own specific theoretical perspectives or political motivations – you should define your angle on Haysett’s account early and avoid rehearsing significant portions of the case in your discussion.

Goals of the Essay

With this essay, you will continue to work on the goals you had with Essay #1:  developing and stating a clear thesis and motive, supporting your argument with textual evidence and analysis, structuring your essay in a logical, non-repetitive way, and orienting your reader.  This time around, we’ll be refining these skills and adding a few others:

  • Open with an engaging lead-in and introduction (among other things, making the motivating problem clear) and drawing out the implication(s) of the argument in the essay’s conclusion.
  • Integrate primary- and secondary-source material into an analysis of a primary text.  Using secondary sources to support or authorize your own analysis is the weakest of several ways to integrate this kind of material into your essay.  You can also use secondary sources to (1) establish a problem or question worth addressing (i.e., a motivating problem or question), (2) supply context, background, or information, (3) provide key terms or concepts, and (4) grapple with another opinion or interpretation (such as found in literary criticism).
Posted in Develop an argument to analyze tension between sources

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