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EXAMINING AND SYNTHESIZING MEANING
Length (final draft): 5-6 pages
“I Stand Here Writing,” 212-221
“Learning to Read,” 106-115.
Excerpt from Bootstraps: An American Academic of Color, 116-129.
At various points in “I Stand Here Writing,” Nancy Sommers draws upon the idea, introduced first by Ralph Waldo Emerson, that “Life is our dictionary.” With this idea in mind, you’ll use all three texts from the list above and write an essay addressing the following prompt:
What does Sommers mean by this, that “Life is our dictionary”? In what ways do the other texts by Malcolm X and Victor Villanueva work to support, refute, and/or complicate this idea?
To answer this question, you’ll need to thoroughly analyze all of your texts and have a solid understanding of the
main claims being made by each. Present your answer as an argument, using specific evidence from each text to support your ideas.
As always, be careful not to focus too much on the obvious or surficial similarities/ differences between the texts, as such connections typically do not call for substantial analysis. Instead, try to explore the deeper meaning to be found “between the lines,” as a means to understand the assumptions (warrants) on which each text is based.
Your essay should be well-argued and well-organized. Be sure to state a thesis and consistently support your ideas with relevant textual evidence and thoughtful analysis. You should follow MLA format for all in-text citations and format your paper according to the MLA guidelines presented in your textbook. Remember to include a title that captures your argument. Make use of the Writing Center, and see me with any questions.