Online Research Resources

Context of "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

Once you have a grasp on the circumstances of Dr. King's imprisonment and his writing to fellow clergymen, you more fully understand the writer, his intended audience and his intended purpose. You also can answer the fourth essential question in rhetorical situation analysis: What is the broader context for this subject or issue?

Conduct online research about the historical context of Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Use a Scholarly Search Engine

Conducting academic research on the Internet is not only about searching for useful sources, but more importantly, about selecting credible and reliable resources that stand up to academic standards.

Some search engines index and cite only journals and scholarly research articles from well-regarded sources.

  • Google Scholar is indexed to journal and research sources

  • Scirus is indexed to scientific journals, government organizations, and research institutions

  • PLOS or the Public Library of Science is a non-profit group that makes scientific articles and papers publicly available

  • RefSeek is a web search engine that aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone

  • The United States Library of Congress is a huge collection and good place to get started in searching for well-sourced information

Writing Assignment

With context research in hand, you are able to fill in all the parts of Aristotle's Rhetorical Triangle.

Using the PDF form below, write a short description of each element on the triangle for Dr. King's letter. Write in complete sentences. When you are done, save the PDF file, and submit a copy of the assignment to your teacher.

Rhetorical Triangle PDF form