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Black Studies

What controlling images (e.g.

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5.8 Reflective Essay I (Submit)
Points 100 Submitting a file upload File Types doc, docx, and pdf Attempts 0 Allowed Attempts
After reading Harriet Jacobs’ slave narrative and the reading / viewing assignments from Learning Modules 1-5 choose a broad topic or theme and narrow it in order to compose a reflective essay. A “theme” (Links to an external site.) is defined as “an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature.” Identify a theme that you want to explore, know more about and discuss in your essay.
Suggested themes from the resource material in the learning modules are listed below. Sub-topics and leading questions can help you frame the topic you plan to write about.
Activism, Resistance and Transcendence
Primary text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Sub-topics: Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues, “The People Could Fly,” “I Talk Black,” “African American Women and the 19th Amendment,” “More Black Girl Than Magic,” “Django Jane”
Leading questions: How did Harriet Jacobs resist being subjected to sexual slavery by the pedophile Dr. Norcom? What lengths did Jacobs go to escape and to protect her children? Who are considered “wild women” and how did they transcend early 20th century respectability politics? How did the “strong black woman” stereotype develop and emerge? How do black women transcend historic stereotypes (e.g. Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire)?
African diaspora (Links to an external site.)
Primary text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Sub-Topics: Migration, Runaway Slaves, “On Being Brought From Africa…” (Wheatley), “Home” (Shire), “The Trial of a Slave Captain”
Leading questions: Why did Harriet Jacobs fake her disappearance as a runaway and hide in her Grandmother’s attic for seven years? How did forced migration impact the lives of African women during the trans Atlantic slave trade? Why were slave ship captains like John Kimber found not guilty in the death of a 15 year old African girl? What does “Home” mean to displaced people living on the African continent or in the diaspora?
Beauty & Aesthetics (Links to an external site.)
Primary text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Sub-topics: “Faces of the Renaissance,” “How Black Women Were Whitewashed in Art,” “The White Slave Children of New Orleans,”
Leading questions: Why was Harriet Jacobs considered a “rare beauty” and desired by Dr. Norcom? What was the purpose of white-washing black women in art? Who were the “fancy girls” and why were they considered exotic? What were the Quadroon balls? How did the inheritance law of partus sequitur ventrem create a perpetual slave nation?
Conflict and Adversity (Links to an external site.)
Primary text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Sub-topics: Respectability Politics, “A Song in the Front Yard,” “Respect,” “The Slave Auction (Harper), “Le’ts Talk About Cardi B and Call Out Culture,”
Leading questions: Why did Harriet Jacobs sacrifice modesty / virginity by entering into a sexual liaison with Mr. Sands? Why were black women tasked post-slavery with representing the beacon of respectability for the black community? Why did the “fancy girls” accept concubinage (sexual slavery) as a means of survival?
Freedom and Social Change
Primary text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Sub-topics: Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues, “The Politics of Homophobia in the Black Church,” “Race, Media and Black Womanhood in the Early 20th Century,” A Pasion for Justice, “African American Women and the 19th Amendment”
Leading Questions: Who were Harriet Jacobs’ allies and how did they assist her in gaining her freedom and that of her children? What were the four virtues of the the cult of true womanhood (Links to an external site.) and how could enslaved women be held to its standards? How did “blues women” transcend respectability politics (late 19th-early 20th century)? Why doesn’t the black church embrace the LGBTQ+ community? How did race and media inform the controlling images and developing psychology of black women during the early 20th century?
Identity and Stereotypes (Links to an external site.)
Primary text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Sub-topics: Ethnic Notions, “I Talk Black,” The Jim Crow Museum, miscegenation
Leading questions: How was the Jezebel stereotype used by white women to demonize enslaved women such as Harriet Jacobs? What controlling images (e.g. Uncle Tom, Jezebel, Sambo, Mammy, Picaninny) were used to stereotype African people during and after slavery? How is black vernacular language (e.g. black speak) used to evaluate intelligence? What is code-switching and how is it used by black people to communicate thoughts and ideas? How did Harriet Jacobs use language and feigned illiteracy to avoid the sexual advances of Dr. Norcom? Why was miscegenation or race mixing against the law during (and beyond) slavery?
Make sure that you include evidence from the primary text (Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl) to contextualize your essay. What that means is you will use the primary text to frame your essay and compare and contrast it with sub-topics in the learning module.
The style of the essay can be expository (explaining how something happened or how it is connected) or a more dynamic mult-genre essay (see tutorial) where you employ a variety of resources to explain your thematic statement. Pre-writing: before you start to compose, narrow your theme in order to focus your essay,
Identify a topic within the theme that you want to explore
Focus your essay (e.g. identify the person or time period) and discuss the psychological impact the events have upon black women
Consult your notes (annotations) concerning materials, such as documentaries, web sites, articles and other resources of interest that can help develop and support your thematic statement
Locate external resources and information that support your thematic statement or main point that you plan to discuss
After identifying a theme, sub-topic and focus area, you can free write, or review your journal to jumpstart your writing process. After fleshing out your thoughts,
Create a mind map (Links to an external site.)which is a visual representation of your ideas. Mind maps help writers organize ideas, and helps keep your writing on track
Use Grammarly (Links to an external site.) to edit any errors in grammar, punctuation and syntax.
This writing exercise will enable you to further explore and develop ideas and revise your essay making the thematic statement and supporting evidence clear, concise, and connected.
Composition: Submit a developed publish of your essay to the peer review writing workshop. Your peers will review your publish and make suggestions and recommendations to improve your writing. The rubric attached to the essay assignment gives details about how your essay will be evaluated. You have two attempts to submit this assignment. If you receive a grade lower than expected, you must discuss revision strategies with me and see a tutor at your campus writing center before submitting the second revised attempt.
Composition Styles:
Expository Essay: The Purdue OWL states, “The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.” Expository essays include a clear and concise thesis or thematic statement that defines the topic and maps the essay’s direction. It includes logical transitions between the introduction, body paragraphs, and the essay’s conclusion making it clear and comprehensible. In addition, Expository essays provide evidence to support claims and assertions made in the introduction/thesis statement and throughout the body paragraphs. The essay should end on a strong note with a concluding paragraph that doesn’t simply restate the thesis, but rather, readdresses it based on the evidence provided. The conclusion is the “final word” reminding readers why the writer’s analytical point of view of the literature, art, artist or historic period is a valid one to consider. If you’re not used to writing essays (or it’s been a while since you’ve written one) this composition style provides a basic framework in which to express your thoughts and ideas.
Multigenre Essay: If you’re confident of your basic composition skills, consider writing a Multi-genre essay, This compositional style goes beyond the expository and tasks writers to convince readers to accept their point of view of the thematic statement or recommendation about the literature’s content; in short, you are building a case using not only facts and logic but a variety of examples (i.e. pictures, lyrics, maps, videos, advertisements, film or a combination of other media) that support and explain the thematic statement, culminating in sound reasoning. Make sure to provide context (explaining the significance of the visual and media inserts) and that you text wrap the item, (so it doesn’t appear to pad your essay to avoid writing). If you insert film or video, make sure to embed it (rather than simply inserting a hyperlinked url) and explain to your readers how it signifies or supports the point you are trying to make.
Whatever composition style you choose make sure that the essay follows the MLA (Modern Language Association) format and includes the following:
Identifying information must appear at the top of the page, including a word count
Page #s must be inserted in the essay (i.e. at the top or bottom right, left or center) for easy navigation
The minimum page length is 3-4 pages (this means at least 3 full pages!) with a separate work cited page for references
The essay must have a clear introduction, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion that provides closure
Include a thematic statement (aka thesis) that clearly defines the main point you plan to explore and discuss
Organization: each paragraph must have a distinct topic sentence, followed by sub-topic sentences that connect ideas and illustrate the dimensions of your thematic statement
Use Grammarly to check the essay for errors, including grammar, syntax (sentence structure), clarity and punctuation. Unedited papers are annoying and slow down the reader’s comprehension of the ideas put forth. There is simply nothing worse than muddy prose because the writer fails to check for composition errors.
Include a minimum of 2 external resources or references that support or explain your thesis. Cite sources, or paraphrased material including media, video, etc. that you use to compose your essay; sources must be cited in the body of the essay as well as on a work cited or reference page (i.e. a separate page at the end of your essay)
Rubric
BLAS 150 Essay Rubric
BLAS 150 Essay Rubric
Criteria Ratings Pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeContent
The primary text is used to frame the essay and is supported by sub-topic resources that contextualize the thematic statement. The essay has an introduction that includes a hook which commands the reader’s attention. There is a clear thesis or thematic statement that explains or presents an argument or exposition about a topic. The essay has well developed paragraphs with topic sentences that discuss the fine points of the thesis and sub-topics. Transitions are included between each paragraph creating a seamless movement between thoughts, ideas or sub-topics. The conclusion provides a clear sense of closure by restating the thesis or thematic statement in different words, reminding the reader of the purpose of the composition. The essay ends on a strong note and includes a statement, quotation or suggestions for further study.
50 pts
Full Marks
20 pts
No Marks
The essay lacks an introduction or it doesn’t include a hook which commands the reader’s attention. The thesis or thematic statement is unclear and needs to be edited so that it explains or presents an argument about a topic. The paragraphs are underdeveloped, and lack topic sentences that discuss the fine points of the thesis and sub-topics. Transitions are not included between each paragraph making it difficult to move between thoughts, ideas or sub-topics. The conclusion doesn’t provide a clear sense of closure; it doesn’t restate the thesis in different words, nor does it remind the reader of the purpose of the composition. The essay ends on a weak note and doesn’t include a statement, quotation or suggestions for further study.
50 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganization
Identifying information appears at the top of the page with a word count. A title that signifies the thesis or thematic statement and page numbers in the correct format are included. The essay is well organized and follows a developed outline; the narrowed topic is easy to identify and is evident in the thesis or thematic statement. Transitions are included between paragraphs. Sub-topic sentences explain the fine points of the thesis, and support the paragraph’s overall content.
10 to >0.0 pts
Full Marks
0 pts
No Marks
Identifying information does not appear at the top of the page with a word count. A title that signifies the thesis or thematic statement and page numbers in the correct format isn’t included. The essay is disorganized and doesn’t follow a developed outline; the narrowed topic is difficult to identify and isn’t evident in the thesis or thematic statement. Transitions aren’t included between paragraphs. Sub-topic sentences do not explain the fine points of the thesis, or support the paragraph’s overall content.
10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeGrammar, Punctuation, Syntax
The writer has edited the essay and polished the content; the prose is free of grammar, punctuation, syntax, mechanical or formatting errors that distract from the essay’s readability.
25 pts
Full Marks
10 pts
No Marks
The essay is not edited or polished; their are grammar, punctuation, syntax, mechanical or formatting errors that distract from the essay’s readability.
25 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeResources / MLA format
Resources or references that support or explain the thesis or thematic statement are included within the essay. In-text citations in the correct MLA format are evident throughout the essay. There are footnotes or end notes included that explain ancillary material. The essay has a work cited or resource page located on a separate page and the entries are in the correct MLA format. Hyperlinks are included which give readers easy access to the resource material.
15 pts
Full Marks
10 pts
No Marks
Resources or references that support or explain the thesis or thematic statement may or may not be included within the essay. In-text citations aren’t in the correct MLA format. Footnotes or end notes aren’t included that explain ancillary material. The essay may or may not have a work cited or resource page located on a separate page and the entries are not in the correct MLA format. Hyperlinks aren’t included which give readers easy access to the resource material.
15 pts
Total Points: 100

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