Amst 301

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  • Topic: Anna Deavere Smith, Anthology, The Passage
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AMERICAN STUDIES 301 MIDTERM

Please include a title for the midterm, TA name, and staple

Description of assignment: Compose an anthology of thirteen quotations drawn from the materials assigned for the first three sections of this course (Parts I, II and III). The anthology will consist of a preface, short commentaries on each quotation, and a conclusion. The anthology should be governed by a theme (or a set of two topics aligned to the concerns of the first four sections of the syllabus) that offer a way to unite together the diverse materials for this course. The best anthologies (those that will receive an A or A- grade) will be ones where the theme enables the student to inquire into the complexities of American culture and where both the structure and content of the midterm manifest democratic thinking (i.e., examining an issue by looking at it from multiple points of view) and integrative thinking (i.e, finding similarities or making syntheses between separate, diverse voices).

Texts for the assignment: Draw one quotation from each of the following texts or set of texts. Present the quotation and cite the text and page number of the quote (if the page number is available). Then provide your analysis of the quotation.

Note: You should feel free and encouraged to arrange the quotes and commentaries in whatever order you find most appropriate and compelling. It’s best not to arrange the quotes in the order presented in the list of texts that follows. Compose an arrangement that allows you to create the most interesting and revealing conversation—or dialogue and debate--among the texts.

1. Carroll, ed., Letters from a Nation

2. Katz, ed., Why Freedom Matters

3. Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

4. Cumings, Dominion from Sea to Sea, chapters 2, 10 or 11

5. O'Hearn, ed., Half + Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural

6. Essays on Los Angeles by Christopher Isherwood, Sonora McKeller, Wanda Coleman, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lynell George, or Bill Bradley.

7. Political oratory or writings by John Winthrop, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson or Frederick Douglass

8. Herman Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” or Nathaniel Hawthorne, “A Gray Champion”

9. Black, Our Constitution: The Myth That Binds Us

10. Political oratory by Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Mario Cuomo, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, or Bernie Sanders.

11. Essays or Speeches by Tony Kushner, James Baldwin, Stanley Crouch or Cornell West

12. Poetry by Pat Mora, Gloria Anzaldua, Ariana Waynes, Beau Sia, Steve Connell, Langston Hughes, or lines from comedy skits and writings by Culture Clash

13. John Leland, Hip: The History, David Brooks, On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense, or any quotation of your own selection drawn from American music, film, literature, history, politics, including lines from movies or lyrics from a song.

Analysis of the texts: Write a commentary on each quotation that is between 3-5 sentences in length. The commentary should be more than a paraphrase of the passage: it should seek to illuminate the significance of the passage and connect the passage to other passages through comparisons and contrasts. The commentary should develop the theme or governing idea of the anthology as a whole. It is vital in these commentaries to explicate the passage first and foremost from the point of view of its author rather than to offer your personal opinion of it. Consider the commentary an act of empathic listening and of comparative or contextual analysis. Seek to understand the passage in its own context rather than just declaring its personal significance to you. Comment on the language and specific details of the passage and make both comparisons and contrasts to other texts in the anthology.

Preface : Write a 1-2 page Preface to this anthology in which you...
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