essay about language and identity

timer Asked: May 4th, 2013

Question description

8-10 pages

Essay on a theme/issue common among hyphenated Americans using comparative analysis of two works of fiction about different groups. The works could be short stories, books, or films; at least one must be a work that was not discussed in class, and you may not use a work you used for a previous assignment. The essay should compare and contrast how the two works deal with a theme/issue surrounding identity, including inter-group relationships, stereotypes and discrimination, living in borderlands, teens discovering who they want to be, people passing as something they are not, and people progressing into a new community.
  You should support your arguments using examples from the two works of fiction, and you are expected to incorporate some of the concepts discussed in class. The main focus should be on identity, and you are expected to include some discussion of language. If you say that a character speaks AAVE or another language variety, you are expected to give examples of distinctive linguistic features used. Direct quotes from the works of fiction are encouraged.

  In the past, the best papers have been about two movies, books, or stories that have a lot in common, such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Fools Rush In; Save the Last Dance and Step Up; Akeelah and the Bee and Stand and Deliver; Mulan and She’s the Man; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Guess Who; Finding Forrester and Good Will Hunting.

Options 1: In the films, Our Family Wedding and Jumping the Broom, dialogue is used to separate the bride and groom’s families through what they culturally, socially, and economically identify as and stereotype others based on preconceived notions.

Potential Problem for Option 1: Our Family Wedding focuses on the union of an African American family and a Mexican American family, while Jumping the Broom is the union of two African American families that is separated socio-economically. The movies have two ethnic groups, but both movies have a large African Americans ethnic identity.

Option 2: In the films, Stand and Deliver and The Great Debaters, characteristics in language are used to emphasize the respective group’s associated ethnic identity and their struggle to break the stereotypical racial divide between whites and those of color.

You may want to consider some of these questions when formulating your arguments:

How do the characters deal with being hyphenated Americans?

How do the authors use language – in narration and dialogue – to portray the characters as belonging to multiple communities?

Do the works deal with issues that are universal or specific to a particular ethnic group?

Please submit a sentence or two about the theme/issue you plan to write about, as well as the titles of the two works of fiction you plan to analyze. If I have questions or concerns, I'll contact you by Tuesday. If you don't hear from me by then, it means your proposal is fine.

You will submit your proposed topic via Blackboard, and the instructor will send you comments. You will submit a first draft, and there will be a peer review process before you submit the final draft.


1.  Title

2.  Introduction – states main argument in an enticing way

3.  Body of the essay (could be organized film by film or sub-point by sub-point) – should include:

a.  brief summaries of the two works of fiction (assume that your audience is not familiar with them, but only give enough info for the reader to understand the rest of the paper)

b.  support for your argument using analysis of the two works, focusing on at least three sub-points

4.  Conclusion – summarizes analysis in an interesting way

Your paper will be graded using the following rubric (don’t forget about the writing tips posted on Blackboard):

(40 points) Examines identity and language, shows deep understanding of class concepts

(20 points) Analysis, arguments, evidence from the texts

(20 points) Structure, including unifying thesis, logical organization, and appropriate transitions

(10 points) Writing style: clarity, conciseness, word choice, no repetition or unnecessary words

(10 points) Mechanics: grammar, tense, punctuation, spelling, title, name, page numbers

When selecting works to analyze, you should choose works you like and are excited about. Your level of interest in the topic is likely to shine through in your writing, and any professor prefers to read an interesting paper.

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