Arts and Humanities

Arts and HumanitiesProject description
NB: It is not necessary to answer all of the questions posed by the prompts. Think of them more as guidelines, a place to get started thinking, rather than a question which must be answered.

1) In Ta-Nehisi Coatess The Beautiful Struggle, the memoir ends with Ta-Nehisi, not quite 18, having a cook-out with his friends and family. The final image of the book isnt even of Ta-Nehisi, but his younger brother, embroiled in a water gun fight. Thinking of memoir, life-writing, as forms that are fundamentally about ones own life and experiences, why does The Beautiful Struggle end here? Why does the text stop before Mr. Coates even leaves for college, even though Mr. Coates is well past this point in his life, and could have, theoretically, included much more in his memoir? What does this tell you about the overall shape of the memoir, and how does this allow you to understand a central premise or theme to this text?

2) Sister Citizen, though written by a professor of political science and generally organized toward social sciences and political theory, devotes its entire sixth chapter, boldly titled God, to religion. In some ways, it is probably obvious that the religious life of citizens and cultures are very viable subjects for texts or conversations about society and political groups, but how do you see this specifically religious section functioning in the book itself? How does religion function as a critical part of understanding the lives of black women? What do you think is most relevant about the significance that Professor Harris-Perry places on religion as she discusses and describes the intersection of systems of race and gender which characterizes the lives of African American women? How does this particular aspect of the text resonate with other concepts, arguments, or motifs introduced in the text itself.

3) (Note: this prompt is designed to be a much freer option than the previous two). Select one of the broad categories we have discussed as analytical lenses (race, gender, social class, and others that seem similarly operative in describing or defining categories of identity), and analyze The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for what you view as a particularly interesting or viable expression of this within the text itself. Remember that your thesis must be argumentative and grounded in the text itself, but feel free to experiment with any instances, large or small, where you think specific significance is generated by the presence of or specific manifestation of the category of your choosing.

Papers: 4-5 pages in length. One will be due midway through the semester and at the other will be turned in as your final assignment, and you will be issued specific prompts through which you can address an array of topics discussed, or you may construct your own argumentative thesis on a topic of your choosing. If you are designing your own topic, it must first be approved by me, but otherwise you are free to develop your own ideas as they pertain to the subjects at hand. You will not be expected to do outside research or include secondary sources in these writing assignments, and are encouraged instead to focus on closely reading the texts assigned. These papers are designed to give you room to stake a claim and make an argument that is relevant to the topics and texts we have discussed, and sustain that argument through analysis of the major texts assigned throughout the course. The papers will be submitted to the appropriate assignment dropbox on Desire2Learn by midnight on the date they are due, and the deadline for these papers will be strictly enforced. Late assignments will not be accepted without special permission.

Notes on Paper Writing: All writing assignments should be clearly labeled with your name, and the assignment they are fulfilling. Microsoft Word is the preferred word processing program for this course, so all assignments must be saved and submitted as Word-compatible files. You should pay attention to the title of the files submitted as well, so that I can process and grade them in a timely fashion. All papers need to be formatted according to MLA formatting standards, which are neatly and helpfully outlined here:


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