Definitional Essay: What is African American Studies?
Note: Please review assignment guidelines posted on Canvas.
Definitional Essay (Five pages, not including the page or pages with the bibliographic sources
Your assignment is to use a minimum of three essays from our course readings to write a definitional essay answering the question, What is African American Studies?
A definition of African American Studies will be useful to our understanding of the discipline, as it will lay out in clear terms the elements that make up this entity. Still, developing such a definition is a challenging task.
Your essay will:
1) Make use of the essays from our course syllabus
2) Begin with a basic definition;
3) Then provide full explanation and defense of the various parts of this definition;
4) Address issues of the scope and function of African American Studies;
5) Engage the following questions as conceptualizing and organizing points:
a) What is it?
b) What is its role?
c) What is its history?
d) What is its future?
e) How does it operate?
6) Be 5 pages not including the page with the bibliography
7) Use a minimum of four sources. Please note that this is the very minimum of sources.
8) Have a bibliography
9) Cite the sources within your essay
The supplementary readings are listed at the end of each section of text. To use these sources for your short paper, you must first identify the citation. Is it a book or article? When a publisher is included, it typically means the source is a book. In the example below, the works by the first three authors are books. The work by Bailey is a journal article as it includes a volume number and pages. Use Primo to find books and journal titles.
The value of using encyclopedias in the beginning stages of the research process:
Encyclopedias come in two varieties: general and subject.
General encyclopedias are good for quickly looking up basic facts about a topic. Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book are all examples of general encyclopedias.
Subject encyclopedias are best to use when you are in the first stages of a college-level research project. Each entry is written by a scholar in the field.
The scholar aims to provide not just the basic facts on a topic, but also a sense of how these facts have been debated or interpreted over time. The sources in the bibliographies are selected specifically as next steps to consult in the research process and typically include a mix of primary and secondary sources.
Use Primo to find resources on your topic at Collins Library and beyond. Request books held by Summit libraries for delivery to Collins Library in about 5-7 days. Due to Covid-19, books are available for local Tacoma pickup only at Collins Library. You may request scans of chapters or pages from books in the Collins Library collection.
For books on the subject of African American Studies, click the following terms.
When search databases, keep these techniques in mind.
Quotation marks search for an exact phrase.
"African American Studies" finds results with that exact phrase.
Without the quotation marks, you may also get African and American and Studies
Add more words when you want to narrow your search. Use the word AND to connect different concepts.
"African American Studies" and curriculum
Use OR to find related terms.
"African American Studies" or "black studies"
Use an asterisk * to find variant word endings. Be careful not to shorten your word too much, because this can bring back results that are not relevant.
defin* retrieves define, defines, defining, definition, defintional, etc.