We will spend several class periods in October discussing “The Case for Reparations,” a groundbreaking piece of journalism and historical research by Ta-Nehisi Coates that was published in The Atlantic in May 2014. This piece of writing continues to have an impact on its readers and advances our understanding of issues such as racial and economic justice in the United States. As you begin your academic writing careers, it will be a helpful piece for you to have read because Coates demonstrates a true talent with sourcing, incorporating quotations, posing difficult questions in an accessible style and vocabulary, as well as making multiple argumentative moves to support a sophisticated thesis.
This article allows you to explore the many complex sub-topics of the course theme. This project asks students to step out of the classroom and experience the course topic first-hand. Students will gain experience during the semester and use this experience to respond to “The Case for Reparations.” In this essay, you will compare your own personal experiences or those of your community to the portraits depicted by Coates. You will use your own observations about life in your communities to those Coates describes in Chicago and substantiates through considerable research. Students use their experience to agree or disagree with the main points of “The Case for Reparations” or they may use their first-hand experience to add to the discussion in the article.
You should incorporate Coates’s writing into your essay in some capacity, but this paper is not a rhetorical or critical analysis essay. This essay gives you the opportunity to practice writing personal narrative and to conduct field research in support of your ideas. You may interview family members, peers, friends, and/or church members. You will follow journalistic procedures for gathering and transcribing interview materials. Or you may observe public spaces where you might gather critical data to support your response to the article.
Outcomes for EN 101 Response to a reading essay
• Develop flexible strategies, including peer review, for working through the stages of the writing process: generating, revising, editing, and proofreading
• Develop ideas and reasoning in support of a theme or thesis
• Demonstrate basic essay structure: controlling theme or thesis, effective organizational pattern, transitions, successful introduction & conclusion
• Support assertions/ideas with evidence that includes concrete detail while excluding irrelevant (off topic) evidence
• Write clear, grammatically correct English while making effective use of stylistic elements such as active verbs, emphasis, parallelism, etc