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As this website’s epigram suggests, David Simon claims that “The Wire is dissent,” suggesting that the show is making an argument beyond just entertainment. The goal of the essay is to analyze The Wire as a mode of rhetoric, a form of persuasion and argumentation, and connect it to other books we have studied: Cop in the Hood, In Search of Respect, and The Corner.

For the essay, choose a specific scene from season 3 or 4 of The Wire and analyze how it works to convey an argument. You might consider how the scene works within the context of the larger narrative arc, how it functions aesthetically compared to other scenes or programs/films, how it conveys an argument about society, and how it works emotionally to impact a viewer. However you frame the questions of your essay, it must effectively explore a scene in rich detail and highlight the significance of the scene within the larger contexts of the series and our larger culture. Successful essays will provide a compelling analysis of a scene that goes beyond what we have discussed in class or on the blog.

In analyzing the ideas conveyed in the scene, you should compare the arguments and the rhetoric used to express those ideas with at least two of the three non-fiction books we’ve read for the class. The core question to consider is how does the television medium convey ideas and arguments in a distinctive manner, contrasting with the book form.

Because of the way The Wire is edited, scenes are often intercut with other sequences – for the purposes of this paper, you may consider a scene that has a continuous timeline in the storyworld, even if it is broken up for the audience. However, be sure to consider how such intercutting impacts the dramatic action and ideas conveyed by the scene.

The essay should be 1,500 – 2,000 words, citing sources as appropriate but not requiring outside research. Remember to include the Honor Code with your essay. Feel free to ask questions about the assignment below.

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