African American History Month

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https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/10544881/richard-sherman-seattle-seahawks-thinks-nfl-proposed-n-word-ban-atrocious-idea

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https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-eric-holder-department-justice-african-american-history-month-program

Research Project

5-7 pages; (25%)—you must write at least 5 full pages, the base-level requirement, or you’ll earn a zero.

Please remember that you must submit your papers via Blackboard’s SafeAssign–to submit your paper, click the SafeAssign essay link on BB under Content and you will be prompted to upload your paper. I absolutely do not accept hard copies, papers submitted through email, pdfs or Pages—I only accept Word docs. If you submit your paper any of these ways, I will not grade it. I also will not email you telling you that I won’t grade it. You are responsible for properly submitting your paper through Blackboard and you are responsible for submitting the correct paper through Blackboard. If you submit the wrong paper or a corrupted document that does not open, that is the paper I am grading. BB gives you multiple attempts to submit your paper and you can review the document that you are submitting so that you know you are submitting the correct document.

Regardless of your topic or text(s), work towards developing an original idea that moves beyond what we have said in class–there should be some tension in your ideas! Provoke. Put forth an argument that a reasonable person could reasonably argue against. Our class discussions can influence your argument, but a strong essay should also say something new about the text. In other words, you want to use this assignment to showcase your own ability to think critically and imaginatively about our texts. Simply put, don’t be boring because you aren’t. The goal is to develop a coherent and clear argument supported by specific textual examples and analysis. Be sure to have a thesis/main idea/main argument: What is your main point and why should your audience care? Say why your argument matters. Your main point should be clearly articulated by the end of the first or second paragraph of the paper. Stay away from clichés, opinions and platitudes (avoid the “Hallmark card” thesis). Some questions to keep in mind: Did you teach the audience something new? Did you approach the issue from a fresh angle that in turn generated new insights? Do not give me a book report full of summary. Above all, be creative.

Choose ONE of the following prompts:

Regardless of your topic, at least four reputable, outside sources are required (no popular magazines, Wikipedia entries or sources like your cousin’s blog, etc.). Some sources that you may want to consider: Bomb, Salon, Slate, The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Guardian, Believer and The New Yorker.

1. Traditional Research Essay: Choose an issue that came out of our shared texts or one that interests you deeply (please run it by me first) and write a paper where you analyze that issue in relation to at least two texts that we’ve studied. These are your two primary texts. Read some articles about the issue that you’re exploring. These are your secondary sources. Briefly comment on what you think are the important points raised by your secondary sources. Then you’ll have to position yourself in the critical conversation that your secondary sources are engaged in (i.e. critics A and B say this; I’m saying that, or I agree/disagree/both with critic A or critic B). The rest of the essay will show how well you support your thesis/main point. Feel free to bring back the outside sources into the conversation as/if you see fit.

One suggested outline for this option:

A. Introduction/Thesis (properly introduce your topic and set up your thesis/argument—1 to 2 paragraphs)

B. Brief summary of and engagement with your four outside, secondary sources (per source: short summary—2 sentences—and then a longer analysis—3 to 4 sentences—about 1 paragraph in total per source)

C. Close, specific analysis of your two primary texts in support of your thesis/main point (you may bring in your outside sources again here if you want—this is the heart of your essay, where you forward your ideas and where you shine)

D. Conclusion: short and sweet! After writing your first draft, see if your thesis is indeed better articulated in your conclusion than in your introduction, where it might be vague since you hadn’t done the work of writing through your ideas yet. If this is the case, then cut/paste and make your conclusion part of your introduction.

2. Expanding Online Work: Choose a topic that you wrote about in one of your shorter online writing assignments on our Discussion Forum and expand that topic into a longer, formal essay. Again, you will need to engage with four reputable outside sources that speak to your topic and write 5-7 pages. You may find the above outline helpful here.

3. The Review: write a review of an album, film, tv program, podcast, café, restaurant, museum exhibit, etc. You will still need to write 5-7 double-spaced pages in total (so you may want to review two restaurants or two albums, etc.—your choice). For your four outside sources, you may engage with other professional and reputable critics who have also reviewed your chosen album, film, etc. Put yourself in conversation with them (keep our “They Say and I Say in response…” model in mind). Your thesis/main argument will be your reasons for recommending (or not) your chosen text. Be sure to cite and engage with strong examples from your album, film, restaurant, etc. to support your argument about its worth. You may make a list of your top songs or films of 2020 (or 2021) and then argue a case for each, again, citing and engaging with professional critics who have also reviewed these texts.

4. Advice Column. Building on our Savage Love advice column assignment, expand on the advice column you submitted in April. Remember, you are both the person seeking advice and the person giving advice. Just like Savage, you will have to use a specific rhetorical strategy in giving advice. Your rhetorical strategy in offering advice should be clear to your audience. In addition to your original advice column, you will need to write at least two more letters seeking advice along with two substantial responses to these letters. Your responses should be longer than the letters.

Above all, aim to avoid giving cliched advice; be creative, thoughtful and counter-intuitive like Savage is in his approach. Be sure to give your advice column a name. For this longer project, you’ll need to cite and analyze four outside, reputable sources in your responses to the issues that people write to you about. Your outside sources should help you address their problem for which they are seeking advice. Again, you’ll have to write at least 5-7 double spaced pages and engage with at least four outside, reputable sources that ate in keeping with the issue(s) you explore in your advice column.

At the top of your document, remember to be sure to provide one short paragraph where you set up your advice column, explaining the kind of advice column you write for. For example, do you offer readers advice about school; career; relationships; gardening; sports; family; finance; fashion, etc. What makes you the expert?

Remember, you must provide a Works Cited page for your four outside, secondary sources.

Email or call or Zoom with me, make an online appointment at the Writing Center and consult our Handbook for Writers folder (on Blackboard under Content) for further guidance.

Remember that projects must be double-spaced with 12-point font, 1-inch margins, and titled with pages numbered. Give your papers an original title, one does good work for you and reflects your thesis/main point.

For more information on African American History Month read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_History_Month

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