CSUS Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin Question

Analytical Essay (100 points)

Dueat 11:59pm or earlier via Canvas Dropboxon the specified date for each text (see syllabus)

For this assignment, choose ONLY ONE of the following documents: 

-Black Elk Speaks by Nicholas Black Elk and John Neihardt

-Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

-George Washington Gomez by Americo Paredes

In this analytical essay, you will analyze 1). the article’s content, 2). historical context, 3).the credentials of the author, 4). its symbolism in American culture and, finally, offer 5). a personal reflection on its broader themes. These 5 sections, together, will create an analytical essay in which you have presented properly contextualized understanding of the document and its production, along with a personal reflection upon it.

1). Book content: Provide a summary of the content of the text. Basically, this is your chance to show me that you understood the reading and can put it in your own words. For this part, citations/quotations should NOT be used, and instead, paraphrasing and rewording should be employed to show your depth of knowledge. Obviously, this should be very brief and can’t possibly encompass everything. The most salient point should be privileged. 

2). Historical context: Provide enough historical background to appropriately understand the production of the document. You should show that you understand where and when it was written and under what political circumstances it was written and what it sought to accomplish. Other factors you may choose to explore include socioeconomic, racial, colonial, economic and cultural factors. Your motivating question should be: how does this document help us understand the time in which it was written or the time in which the story took place?

3). Credentials of the Author: Provide an overview of the author and consider their potential strengths and weaknesses. Some questions to engage include asking: who wrote it, and why was he/she an authority on the subject? Did they have special/insider knowledge? What was their personal background including perhaps education, political ties, etc? Was this a firsthand account based on personal experiences? Are they a reliable source? 

4). Symbolism in American Culture: Provide an explanation of how this piece of writing helps us understand American (or colonial) culture at the time of it’sproduction. Does this document, in some way, tell us something about what the US was like? Does it provide special insight? What does it reflect about who we are as a people/as a nation? 

5). Personal reflection: Provide an explanation of your personal thoughts/feelings/opinions on the author or the writing or both. Did you like it? Did you find it helpful or persuasive? Did it make you think or feel differently about American culture? Did it challenge your view of history? Did you like or not like it and why? You don’t have to engage ALL of these, but these may help you start to arrive at some conclusions.

Essay Organization: Each of these requirements should be treated as their own separate paragraph(s) in your paper, and you can use language from this prompt to create headers for each section if you’d like. Either way, this paper should not merely engage in bullet points, but instead should be written academically, in paragraph form using proper academic language and citation when needed. You do not NEED to follow these headers if you prefer to simply employ organizational techniques that will work for you. But if you’d like to, that’s fine too. I understand that it is likely that some sections will be much longer, and some much shorter. I expect this, so don’t worry about devoting equal time to each of them.


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