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Critical Essay #3
This page includes the assignment sheet for the third critical essay. My goal is to make this page as useful to you as possible, so let me know if it can be improved. If anything is badly worded, unclear, or missing, please contact me with constructive criticisms and suggestions. Thanks.
Due: no later than 5 pm on Monday, April 23, 2001, either in my mailbox in the English department main office (Fenton 277), or in the envelope on the bulletin board outside my office door (Fenton 240).
Format: 4-6 pages, double spaced, with reasonable fonts, font sizes, and margins (be warned that barely getting on to the fourth sheet of paper does not a four-page paper make!); title that indicates main argument of paper; heading that includes your name, the course name or number, and the date; bibliography and citations in MLA style (see links page for explanations of this style of citation); proper quotation format ("..." . for quotations within a paragraph; blockquote format for quotations five lines or longer).
Options: Here are suggested options for the third critical essay. If you choose to write a critical essay, your job is to come up with an argument that you are trying to support by using textual evidence to persuade your readers of your interpretation's validity. If you choose another genre than the analytical or persuasive essay, you must still have a larger point and purpose to your piece.
- Invent your own option: formulate a purpose, genre, and issue or question that you want to your readers to consider, and email me a brief proposal for why you should be allowed to substitute a different kind of genre for the critical/analytical/persuasive essay for this paper, along with an explanation of why you want to write on that topic. You must run your idea by me at least 4 days before the paper is due (no later than Thursday, April 18), to allow time for feedback, revision, and brainstorming, drafting, and revising of the actual essay. Do not assume that I will approve your suggested genre/topic/question--run it by me as early as possible!
- Invent your own critical essay: formulate a question that you want to consider or argument that you want to make in your third critical essay, and email me a brief proposal for why you should be allowed to do it along with an explanation of why you want to do it. You must run your idea by me at least 4 days before the paper is due (no later than Thursday, April 18), to allow time for feedback, revision, and brainstorming, drafting, and revising of the actual essay. Do not assume that I will approve your suggested topic/question--run it by me as early as possible!
- Consider the relation between Du Bois's conception of America and of American nationalism and those of other African American writers from earlier and later periods. Choose one writer to compare to Du Bois in terms of either (a) how and to what ends Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk responds to that earlier writer's ideas about America or (b) how and to what ends that later writer responds to Du Bois's ideas about America in The Souls of Black Folk.
- Stage a debate between proponents of American nationalism and black nationalism that we read in the "nation" unit (either by writing a critical essay comparing and contrasting one figure from each "camp," or by writing a Wallace Thurman-esque scene [in fiction or in drama] in which the key ideas of the unit are debated by figures of your own invention who are based on, or composites of, actual writers and intellectuals from the period).
- Craft an argument about what is at stake in the relation between the arguments or art of two writers from different time periods on a similar topic, issue, or question relating to the "nation" and nationalism (for instance, how and to what ends does a Black Arts Movement essayist respond to a Harlem Renaissance-era essayist?).
- Consider the relation between a specific manifesto or set of ideas about "the black aesthetic" and a particular work of art written during the period in which the manifesto was written. How is the writer responding to the critic/theorist, and to what ends? What is at stake in or significant about the writer's response? Or consider the same questions in relation to a documentary film like Black Is ... Black Ain't (Marlon Riggs, 1995, 87 min.) or a blaxploitation film like Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971, 97 min.)--how does your filmmaker respond to or take part in the Black Arts Movement, and to what ends?
- Research the reparations debate that Professor Kershnar discussed with us and take a position on it and the larger question of what the nation owes to black people and why in a persuasive essay or other format.
M A I N * N E W S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
ENGL 240: Intro to African American Lit and Culture, Spring 2001
Created: 4/10/01 10:59 am
Last modified: 4/10/01 7:58 pm