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How To Write A Segmented Essay

In a fine continuation of the previous blog, I shall attempt today to analyze the segmentation of another pair of essays, those being Susan Allen Toth’s “Going to the Movies” and Annie Dillard’s “Living Like Weasels.”

Toth’s essay is undoubtedly the juxtaposition form of segmentation. Root even uses “Going to the Movies” as his prime example of juxtaposition (414). He describes juxtaposition as the “arranging [of] one item alongside another item so that they comment back and forth on one another” (414). In the case of Toth’s vignettes of movie theater outings, she describes three different dates to the movies, as well as a lone outing, to offer a comparison. Never does Toth explicitly compare any two of the dates, but her method of placing them side-by-side offers the reader a clear insight into the contrast among the various excursions to the theater. For example, Toth begins each of the first three segments of her essay with a description of her companion’s taste in movies: “Aaron takes me only to art films…Bob takes me only to movies that he thinks have a redeeming social conscience…Sam likes movies that are entertaining…” (294–295). By doing so, the comparisons between the dates are clear, without Toth having to state what they are.

Dillard’s essay, on the other hand, resembles more the patterning form of segmentation. To Root, patterning is “choosing an extra-literary design and arranging literary segments accordingly” (414). Although less emphatically segmented than Toth’s essay, “Living Like Weasels” uses the extra-literary element of weasels to enhance Dillard’s argument. By giving extensive description of weasels, both from the anecdotes of others and her own experience, Dillard argues that the only well-lived life is one lived without compromise, just as weasels never give in and release their prey. Mirroring her description of a weasel that clung with all of its might to an eagle in the second paragraph of her essay, Dillard ends with her stated conviction that whatever your principles are, you should “not let [them] go…[and] dangle from [them] limp wherever [they] take you” (2).

Although both Dillard’s and Toth’s essays are more creative, their literary qualities are applicable to our academic research papers. In both essays, we do see a clear theme developing, around which the segmentation is formed. Just because the essays are creative does not mean that they do not contain theses, or that they are fictitious. Style is transferrable from the creative to the academic—it is dependent on the writer, not the contents.

  1. Do either Toth’s or Dillard’s essay really fit perfectly within the boundaries of any of Root’s stated forms of segmentation?
  2. How, based on our readings of segmented essays, do you think writers choose which form of segmentation to use in writing their essays?

(My apologies for posting this late. Wi-Fi is a finicky thing.)

Writing on the Edge


Writing on the Edge, an interdisciplinary journal focusing on writing and the teaching of writing, is aimed primarily at college-level composition teachers and others interested in writing and writing instruction. It is published at the University of California at Davis and appears two times a year-in spring and fall.

Coverage: 1989-2014 (Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 25, No. 1)

Moving Wall: 3 years (What is the moving wall?)

The "moving wall" represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a "zero" moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication.
Note: In calculating the moving wall, the current year is not counted.
For example, if the current year is 2008 and a journal has a 5 year moving wall, articles from the year 2002 are available.

Terms Related to the Moving Wall
Fixed walls: Journals with no new volumes being added to the archive.
Absorbed: Journals that are combined with another title.
Complete: Journals that are no longer published or that have been combined with another title.

ISSN: 10646051

Subjects: Language & Literature, Humanities

Collections: Arts & Sciences XIV Collection

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