Monday, February 28, 2011

Guidelines for English 238 Final Research Paper

Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914-1994), novelist, essayist, and literary critic. Author of Invisible Man, Juneteenth, and Three Days Before the Shooting, and the essay collections Shadow and Act and Going to the Territory.

ASSIGNMENT: You will write a final essay of 6-8 pages, allowing you the luxury of extended thought and discussion of a dominant theme in one of the semester’s readings or on one of the major works we have read (Ex: The Heroic Slave, Our Nig, Passing, The Bluest Eye). This essay will be written utilizing Modern Language Association guidelines. We will have a brief “brainstorming” session on Thursday, 3/24 to assist you in developing a topic and focus for your final paper.

THIS PAPER IS DUE ON THURSDAY, 4/21, at 10:00 pm. 
Any paper submitted after this date will result in a loss of 5 points per day overdue (ex: submitted by Friday, 4/22 for a possible maximum of 25 pts; submitted by Monday, 4/25 for a possible maximum of 20 pts). NO papers will be accepted after Monday, 4/25/11.

Sample themes: abolitionism, accommodationism, adventure, aesthetics, alienation, childhood, class distinctions, colorism/color consciousness, community, corporeality, education, equality, family, femininity, feminism, freedom, gender roles, hypocrisy, individuality, integration, intellectualism, interracialism, law, literacy, masculinity, morality, passing, poverty, race relations, racism, radicalism, rebellion, religion, repatriation, responsibility, revolution, science, segregation, separatism, sexism, sexual exploitation, sexuality, slavery, stereotyping, violence. Some of these themes overlap—your thesis should reflect your theme in a clear, well-articulated manner.

The paper will follow MLA guidelines in matters of form (see MLA in-text citation style below—for complete MLA style, click at left on course blog), and it will contain a Works Cited Page, in-text citations to those sources, and a complete outline. 

If you wish to (not mandatory), you may turn in a typed draft of the research paper by Thursday, 4/14 for a quick review. This will be quickly scanned during class for structure and documentation and returned to you. You must use a total of ten (10) in-text citations from at least five (5) sources, in any combination, for your essay.

For this final research paper, YOU MAY NOT USE the following as sources, as they are NOT considered scholarly works: SparkNotes, CliffsNotes, ClassicNotes, Enotes, GradeSaver, or any other student guides.

A Wikipedia entry may NOT be used as a source—however, if the “Source” section of a Wikipedia entry contains a scholarly work (a journal article or academic book) that you want to quote from in your paper, you are free to retrieve the work from the library (hard copy or from a database) and incorporate it into your paper.

(see Student Checklist for Papers). 



ABSTRACT: Students must present a one paragraph abstract of approximately 75-100 words summarizing the paper and how he or she plans to proceed, detailing the following: Why you chose it; what is important about it; what you intend to examine; what library resources you intend to use to complete the assignment. Due Tuesday, 4/5

BIBLIOGRAPHY: You must present a Bibliography of sources (books, journal articles, newspaper articles, media sources, Internet sources) that you think you be using for your research paper. The page will consist of no fewer than five (5) outside sources. At least three (3) of the sources must come from scholarly books or articles on the main topic. Internet sources can comprise no more than two (2) of the sources. 
Due Tuesday, 4/5

OUTLINE: An outline is required as part of the grade for the research paper. This outline must directly correspond to the research paper. 
Due Tuesday, 4/5

DUE DATE for Research Paper (with final Works Cited page): Thursday, 4/21.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Frances E.W. Harper: Woman of the 19th Century

Hi, class,

This week, we will be commemorating the centennial of Frances E. W. Harper's death (February 22, 1911) and celebrating her life during Tuesday's class meeting, as well as finishing our discussion of Harriet E. Wilson's Our Nig. I will be bringing in either cupcakes or cake for our celebration!*

On Tuesday, 2/22, you will be writing your second literary analysis essay, which will focus on Our Nig. I will provide you with a reflection on Our Nig, asking you to keep in mind our discussion of Harper's short story, "The Two Offers" and our discussion of Emersonian self-reliance (I will provide a quote from Emerson for you to use as a framework for your essay). 

Please bring your notes on Our Nig as well as "The Two Offers" to Tuesday's class so that you can respond thoughtfully and comprehensively. Links to these readings are on the blog post from February 2, so if you need to annotate fresh copies, please do so.

On Thursday, February 24, we will be looking at the Lincoln readings ("Gettysburg Address" and "Second Inaugural Address") as well as the two post-Civil War Harper speeches ("We Are All Bound Up Together" and "The Great Problem to be Solved") as we move into the Reconstruction Era and consider how the preoccupations of African-Americans moved from strategies for the abolition of slavery to strategies for becoming full participants in American society.

Links to these four readings are also on the February 2 blog post below, so make sure you have them by Thursday's class, along with highlighted passages of significance. 

In the coming weeks, we will continue our look at how black intellectuals (radicals and moderates) advanced the critical conversation about black equality as they identified and negotiated strategies for black progress in the midst of the ongoing struggle for acknowledgment of black humanity. 

If you have time, I would like you to look at a few of the speeches listed below--obviously, we will not be able to discuss them all in-depth, but you should certainly be aware of these major 19th century contributors to black intellectual thought--you will see certain "resonances" in some of our own 20th and 21st century rhetoric:

Frederick Douglass, "The Composite Nation" (1869)
Ferdinand Barnett, "Race Unity" (1879)
Frederick Douglass, "On Woman Suffrage" (1888)
Ida B. Wells, "This Awful Slaughter" (1909)

Finally, we will begin our reading of Nella Larsen's Passing the week after next (March 1) as we move into literary modernism and the emergence of Larsen as a major "black" writer of the era known today as the "Harlem Renaissance." 

All best,

Prof. Williams 

*I will find a way for us to manage this without eating in class--lol!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Harriet Wilson's "Our Nig"

African American girl, full-length portrait, seated on stool, facing slightly right. Photo by Thomas E. Askew. From Types of American Negroes, compiled and prepared by W.E.B. Du Bois, v. 1, no. 59. Part of the Paris Exposition of 1900.

Our next novel is Harriet E. Wilson's Our Nig. This autobiographical novel, the first by an African American woman (pub. in 1859) melds the two most popular literary genres of the 19th century: the slave narrative and the sentimental novel. I would like you to consider how this novel fits in with the other works we have read this semester (esp. Douglass, Harper, some of the speeches), or other works you may have read outside of this class (written during the same era), and to think about the following questions:

  • How does this novel compare with other works--what are the similarities, and what are the differences? 
  • What is significant about the prefatory note that precedes the beginning of the story? 
  • What major themes emerge in this novel? 
  • What is Harriet Wilson's motive for writing Our Nig that sets her apart from her (white women) contemporaries?
  • How do you "read" race, gender, and class in Our Nig?
I would like you to think about these questions as you read. I would like for us to start on this novel over the weekend. Therefore, I ask you to please read up to Chapter Three (3), and make some notes on passages of significance to you!
All best,
Prof. Williams

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Frances E.W. Harper's "Undisputed Dignity"

"Only the BLACK WOMAN can say 'when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing for special patronage, then and there, the whole Negro race enters with me.'"--Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South, 1892 
Frances E. W. Harper (1825-1911)
Hi, class,

Next week, we will be taking a look at a couple of other pieces by Frances E.W. Harper, whose poems we looked at during the first week of class (links to the poems at bottom). Her short story, "The Two Offers," is regarded as the first short story published by an African American (in 1859). I have decided to use Harper, who lived across the span of the long nineteenth century, as our bridge from the antebellum era to the beginnings of 20th century black modernity.

I will give you a handout of "The Colored People in America" (listed on the syllabus) and have also given you links to three of her most important speeches ("Liberty for Slaves," "We Are All Bound Up Together," and "The Great Problem to be Solved"). I am also giving you Lincoln's "2nd Inaugural Address" and "Gettysburg Address."

Please read "The Two Offers" and "Liberty for Slaves" over the weekend and be ready to comment on a section that you find of particular significance--pay attention to diction, language, tone, and theme. What is significant about each piece? What do you notice about the rhetorical style? 

We will look at the post-Civil War (after 1865) Harper speeches, as well as the Lincoln, after we read/discuss/analyze Harriet Wilson's Our Nig (in about 3 weeks). I just wanted you to have access to them as soon as possible.  

Short Story:

"The Two Offers" (1859)


Frances E.W. Harper, "We Are All Bound Up Together" (1866)

Frances E.W. Harper, "The Great Problem to be Solved" (1875)

Other Harper poems:
Ancillary reading: