Enslavement & American Identity in Pre-Colonial Times Compared to Today’s Issues


The essay is supposed to touch on a subject/moral we’ve talked about in class and compare it to today and I chose to talk about enslavement and American Identity.

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Our first discussion board asked what you believed were a few of the most prominent moral conflicts and/or prevailing values of our time and what connections you saw between these values and conflicts and what you thought we were going to study this semester. Now that you’ve seen what has been said for a few hundred years, you should be able to offer an argument instead of making a prediction.

For this 5-7 page essay, put forth an argument discussing how a value and/or moral dilemma we’ve studied and seen reflected in the assigned literature is reflected in our current social context. You’ll need to integrate at least six academic sources, three of which must have been written in the last twenty years. These scholarly sources can include any of the primary materials you will discuss from the Norton Anthology; however, sources that are more than 20 years old should not be used to simply show how something used to be. Every source needs to help illustrate that value and/or moral conflict today.

Important Tips

Unify your essay with a well-developed thesis state­ment. The thesis makes a point that not everyone will agree with. It is not a statement of fact. To reiterate, your paper should be set up to argue a point––one that is stated explicitly in or near your introduction.

If the essay is primarily a summary, it will not earn a passing grade. Each paragraph should give a reason why your argument is valid; specifics should be used to support these ideas. To reiterate, make sure each paragraph has a specific point to make––keep an eye on that first sentence to be sure it “forecasts” the ideas the paragraph will develop. Also, your reader should be able to identify how each paragraph is connected to your thesis.

Remember that your conclusion is what will ring in your reader’s ear. Don’t rush through it as it might undermine all your hard efforts.

One of the purposes of a survey course is to expose students to a wide array of perspectives, texts, and authors within a defined period. Often, this period spans hundreds if not thousands of years, so, by its nature, it’s impossible to cover all aspects of the literature in depth. However, this format does afford us the opportunity to be exposed to numerous thresholds wherein we might explore and discover what particular time periods, people, cultures, and texts intrigue us. This assignment invites you to select a threshold that is appealing to you, and to step-in, so to speak, so that you can wander and explore for a bit. In doing so, you can can gain deeper insight into each historical period in order to effectively discuss and analyze each piece of literature. As we keep reading and discussing both history and literature, I hope you find areas that interest you more than others – areas where you wish we spent more time.


This activity is designed to support the following Learning Objectives:

Examine American authors from a variety of ethnic and cultural groups in an historical context.
Analyze and compare different authors’ perspectives and interpretations of situations and events in light of the ethnic, literary, geographical, religious, ideological, social, and political environments within which they wrote.
Demonstrate through both in-class discussions and written assignments an ability to read literature closely and to interpret primary literary texts analytically and critically and with an awareness of cultural differences and variant interpretations of events.
Produce a critical analysis that depends on a strong thesis as a focal point, a convincing argument, and evidence from primary texts and perhaps secondary sources for support through examples, quotations, summaries, paraphrases of passages, and an explication of the language of the primary texts, using MLA documentation guidelines appropriately.
Produce clear and effective discourse that is appropriate to an academic reading audience, which is neither overly simplistic nor overly inflated and adheres to the conventions of critical literary analysis

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