Book Response


Due date: Monday, March 1 (11:59 p.m.) if writing on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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                 Monday, April 12 (11:59 p.m.) if writing on Looking Like the Enemy

Please submit your book response to Canvas. Click on “Assignments,” then click on “Book Response.” Once there, click the button, “Submit Assignment.”

Objective: You will choose one of the memoirs we are reading this semester, either Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl or Mary Matsuda Gruenewald’s Looking Like the Enemy, and write a response to it. In this assignment you will briefly summarize the text (1-2 paragraphs), situate it within its proper historical context (3-4 paragraphs), and analyze it as a primary source (3-4 paragraphs).

Assignment parameters: Responses should be 3 pages in length, double-spaced, 12-point font, with standard, one-inch margins. Any words you use other than your own, including those from the book, must be placed within quotation marks and must be cited (either in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes). Failure to quote words not your own is plagiarism.

You should consider the following questions:

A. Summarize the text (1-2 paragraphs).

  1. What is the general subject matter of the book?
  2. Who is the author?
  3. Describe the author’s tone. How do they feel?
  4. What was the author’s purpose in writing a memoir?

B. Situate the text within the proper historical context (3-4 paragraphs).

  1. Describe the world surrounding the author’s memories. What is happening around them that influenced their life? Does the author discuss any particular event, law/s, political debates, or societal shifts that impacted their life?
  2. How does the book provide insights into this period?

C. Analyze it as a primary source (3-4 paragraphs).

  1. Why was this source produced? Who is the audience?
  2. Is the source believable? Why or why not? Be specific.
  3. As a piece of historical evidence, how useful is this source? What does it help us understand about the period it describes?

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