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HIST222 African American History

The Novel Homegoing covers an astounding sweep of one family’s multi-generational journey and delves into numerous themes/topics/ideas relevant to this class. Yet, in many ways it can feel more like a collection of short stories than a traditional novel. This will be amplified by the pace of reading only one chapter at a time. Accordingly, students must record a brief journal entry for each chapter in preparation for writing an essay about a theme within the novel.
The journal entries need not be long or formal, but should serve as a helpful resource when writing the essay. Record a brief outline of the chapter’s character and events. Note any themes that you may want to select for your essay and start connecting themes across chapters as you hone in on the one theme you want to focus on. These journal entries need only be long enough to be useful to write your essay, but need to be substantial enough to show you read each chapter.
The three to four page (double spaced) essay should select a theme/idea/topic in the novel and show how the novel speaks to that across multiple generations. Do not regurgitate everything that happened and instead focus on delving into the selected theme. Themes/ideas/topics can be far reaching and students are encouraged to be creative, but themes need to be substantial enough to produce a successful essay.
Essays should make an argument about what the novel says about the theme, show how multiple characters speak to the theme, and explicitly tie in with course materials that compliment or complicate the theme. In other words, the essay should not be a rephrasing of your journal entries but use them as a point of departure to develop a meaningful essay along the lines of Ava Landry’s piece “Black is Black is Black?: African Immigrant Acculturation,” which will be read on October 26th and should serve as an example essay.
As this course requires you to have taken English 102, 105, 108 or an equivalent, I expect a high quality paper written in a narrative style with clear prose following grammar conventions for formal writing. All papers must have introductory paragraphs with your thesis statement, substantial body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. When relevant, course material needs to be properly cited (instructions below). Take advantage of the free services available at the ASU Writing Center and have a friend read the paper. Both content and style will be factors in your grade. Review the common errors and grammar guidance at the end of this assignment.
The ideas in this paper should be entirely your own. When ideas are not a student’s own, it is painfully obvious and could constitute plagiarism. Please refer to ASU’s Academic Integrity policies , use common sense, and ask me for clarification if necessary. Please do not plagiarize as it is wrong, will hurt yourself, and makes me sad. A bad paper might get a D, but a plagiarized paper will get a zero and further penalties from the Office of Academic Integrity.
General Instructions:
(a) Write as if your reader has no knowledge of the topic or source. Define terms when necessary, introduce people, summarize the source, and explain the context sufficiently for understanding. (Write like I haven’t read the book.)

(b) Use 12 point and Times New Roman font only.

(c) Submit only as a Word file (doc or docx). do not submit as a PDF. Microsoft Office is free for all ASU students.

(d) Align the text to the left, not center justified. 

(e) Use 1-inch margins and double-space. Do not expand the spacing or play with margins. I will notice and will be annoyed. Pro-tip: do not annoy the person grading you.

(f) Use footnotes to cite sources. Use Chicago style as outlined on the next page, but do not stress about this—just make sure you always make it clear where you got what from.

(g) Include a cover page with your name, title of the paper, course number, and instructor’s name. Do not begin your essay on the cover page and do not include any of the information on the cover page in the rest of the paper.

(h) The cover page will not count toward the page requirements (a total of three to four pages plus the cover page). Learning to write concise and focused papers is a vital skill to develop so do not exceed the page limitations. Likewise, not reaching the page requirements should signal you that you have not delved sufficiently into your subject. Ask yourself what more can be explored or explained? Where could you better support your argument by unpacking a particularly instructive quotation or drawing out an example? Do not add “fluff,” but challenge yourself to dig deeper if you find yourself short of the required length.

(i) Quote your source, but do so carefully. All quotes must be introduced appropriately—DO NOT simply make them sentences onto themselves.

(j) Do not over quote. Quotes should only be used when a source says something in a particularly unique or concise way. Use them sporadically and only when it serves a purpose. Papers that are over 20% quotations will receive no higher than a D. Block quotes (which are required for quotes longer than 40 words) are not appropriate in a paper this short. Instead, paraphrase and use only the most relevant portions.

(k) Take advantage of the free services available at the Writing Center, as both content and style will be factors in your grade. If you do not use the Writing Center, have a friend read your paper. A second set of eyes can do wonders!

(l) Do not use any other sources besides assigned course materials.

(m) Copying material from the internet or any other source will be detected and reported as plagiarism to the appropriate authorities as required by university rules. Contact me if you need any assistance determining what constitutes plagiarism, but please don’t plagiarize. It genuinely makes me sad and plagiarized papers are never good anyways.
Chicago Style Citations:
1. Always cite direct quotations.

2. Always cite a paraphrase of another’s thoughts or ideas.

3. Always cite facts, information, or data if that information is found exclusively in a particular source or is very specific. For example, you do not need to cite a textbook if you state that the Civil War ended in 1865. But, if you note that 179,893 black men served in the U.S. Colored Troops, you need to cite your source for this information.

4. In Microsoft Word, footnotes are created by going to “Insert” and then “Footnote.” In some versions of word its “References,” instead of “Insert.” Footnotes are traditionally written in 10-point font, but annoyingly this must be changed manually. They should also be single-spaced, never double.

5. Footnotes should be placed at the end of a sentence after the punctuation and after the quotation mark. For example: Frederick Douglass declared, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”  Do not put a footnote in the middle of a sentence, before the quotation mark, or before the punctuation (i.e. don’t do this: Douglass declared, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress1.”).

6. Despite the name, footnotes do not go in a paper’s “Footer.” If you follow the directions in #4 for inserting footnotes, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation trying to manual insert footnote into the Footer.
7. If you are using an e-book, download the PDF version so you can provide page numbers and cite accordingly. If your e-book still does not have page numbers, cite as well as you can using chapters (i.e. middle of chapter 3).

8. No works cited page is necessary as you are only using assigned course material.
Common Grammar Errors and Writing Guidance:
1. Do not use passive voice. Passive voice is when you make the object of an action into the subject of a sentence. Meaning, whoever or whatever is performing the action is not the grammatical subject of the sentence. Passive voice skirts responsibility and has therefore been used far too often to say things such as: The slaves were abused. Make clear who did the abuse! Enslavers abused enslaved people.

a. Example: The law was passed. versus Congress passed the law. The first sentence is passive. It does not make clear who or what is doing the action.

b. Silly example to remember: Why was the road crossed by the chicken?

2. As a general rule, use past tense in historical writing. The people you usually write about in history are dead. They are not doing or saying anything anymore. Therefore, use past tense when referring to what historical subjects did or said.
3. When available, use a person’s full name the first time you use the name. After using the full name, subsequent references should only use the person’s last name. Never refer to a historical subject or author simply by their first name unless a last name is unknown. If only a first name is known, obviously you can only use a first name.
4. Capitalize proper nouns. Proper nouns, unlike common nouns, should be capitalized as you are referring to something specific. 
When referring to the South—as in the former states of the Confederacy—it should be capitalized. Describing something as “south of here,” however, is using the word as a common noun. Likewise, describing someone as a “southerner” is a general term and should be lowercase. Think about how terms are used to determine their case.

5. Avoid using adjectives and adverbs. These modifiers tend to be unnecessary and your prose will be stronger without them. If you feel the need to use an adverb, especially one that ends in “ly,” try using a stronger verb instead.

a. Example: Something cannot be “really historic.” Just say “historic.”
b. Example: He quickly ran home. versus He sped home.

6. Do not use personal pronouns such as “I” or “you.” Personal pronouns are not appropriate in most historical writing. Especially avoid using phrasing such as “I believe” or “I feel.” The point in historical writing is not to convey your feelings or your beliefs but to convey an argument. Write accordingly.

7. Do not use contractions in formal writing. To break yourself of the habit, try adjusting the “Grammar Settings” in Word so you remember not to use them.

8. Paragraphs must be at least three sentences long and have transitions from one paragraph to the next.

9. Cut unnecessary words. Strive to use as few words as possible to convey your meaning. 
a. Example: He successfully completed the speech. versus He completed the speech. (“Successfully” is implied.)
10. Use the “correct” word. Bigger is not necessarily better. Use the most appropriate word for your meaning. Get into the habit of looking up the meaning of words that you already know, just to verify that it is the precise word you want and does not have any connotations you do not want. Do not use a word you found in a thesaurus without also looking the word up in a dictionary.

11. Use respectful terminology. “African American” and “black” or “Black” are all acceptable words to refer to people of African descent in the U.S. Strive, however, to use “Black” more as a modifier than as a noun. For example, “Black people” instead of “blacks.” Other terms for African Americans are only acceptable when quoting or as proper nouns (i.e. U.S. Colored Troops, New Negro, Negro Problem). Never use older terms to refer to African Americans outside of quotes or proper nouns. In some rare instances, “people of color” is acceptable, but never “colored.” Also, there is no such thing as the African American race. Simply say African Americans or Black people. Don’t say “African American people” and do not put a “the” in front of a racial group.

12. The trend currently is to capitalize “Black” but not “white.” These rules are not set in stone yet, but I capitalize Black and think this will soon be widely accepted as the proper method. Capitalized or not, be consistent and capitalize it every time or don’t.

13. Watch out for possessives. A possessive noun shows that someone (or something) owns an item. Make sure you are not indicating possession when you are simply making something a plural. Singular possessives are made by adding an apostrophe and the letter “s” to the noun. If a singular possessive ends in an “s” already, you must still add the apostrophe and the “s.” Plural possessives, however, can be more complicated. Most of the time, you simply add an apostrophe but no extra “s” if the word, to become a plural, already ends in an “s.” If the plural possessive does not end in an “s,” then you must add an apostrophe and an “s.”

a. Normal singular possessive: John Rock’s speech…

b. Singular possessive that ends in an “s”: Frederick Douglass’s newspaper…

c. Normal plural possessive: African Americans’ views on the subject varied.

d. Plural possessive that does not end in an “s”: Black men’s work…

e. Common error: African American’s versus African Americans’ The first refers to only one person who has possession over what follows. The second refers to all African Americans who have possession over what follows (you’ll rarely use the former).

14. Edit your writing! We know what we meant to write, but we are not that good at reading what we actually wrote. Therefore, try to finish drafting your paper a few days before it is due and then come back a day later to edit with fresh eyes so you can see what you actually wrote. Read your paper aloud to slow yourself down so you can really take in what you wrote and because your ear will often catch a mistake that your eyes do not. Even though you are submitting the paper digitally, still print out a draft and edit a hard copy at least once—you read better on paper.

15. Peer edit. Ask a friend to read your paper for you. This can be painful to do, but the feedback will be invaluable. Even if your reader does not know anything about the subject, he or she can still catch grammar mistakes and point out areas that are confusing. Remember that you should always write like your reader does not know anything about the subject—meaning that a reader who does not actually know anything about the subject is a perfect test audience! Have your reader explain your thesis and your point back to you after reading your paper. If your reader cannot do this well, then you need to explain more in your paper and/or work on your clarity.

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