Theory Essay: Contrasting Tatum, Lee, and Armstrong/Hamilton

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Theory becomes more valuable when it allows us to see reality in ways that were previously hidden from our normal view. In this essay assignment, your goal is to:

A) Write an insightful thesis statement that compares and contrasts three different theories (racial identity development, racial formation, and social class & organizational analysis). For example, what does one theory emphasize that another does not? In the body of your essay, accurately summarize each theory and support your claims with direct evidence from at least three of these sources:

  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations about Race, revised edition (New York: Basic Books, 2003).
  • Stacey Lee, Unraveling the “Model Minority” Stereotype: Listening to Asian American Youth, second edition (New York: Teachers College Press, 2009).
  • Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s, Second Edition (New York: Routledge, 1986).
  • Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).

B) Illustrate how each theory can inform us about a hidden aspect of everyday college life, and call our attention to important processes that we might otherwise overlook. Support your claims with direct evidence from at least two of these sources:

See idea sheet, which anyone may File > Make a Copy or Download.

Your essay may not exceed 2000 words (excluding references) and will be evaluated by your peers and the instructors on these criteria:

1) Does the author present a clear and focused argument or thesis statement in the introduction?  Does it respond to the assignment?

2) Is the author’s reasoning persuasive and well developed?  Are the claims supported with appropriate evidence?  Are counter-arguments fully considered? (Reminder: Use templates in They Say/I Say to enhance your writing)

3) Is the essay well organized with smooth transitions between focused paragraphs? Does it include sufficient background for audiences unfamiliar with the topic?

4) Does the author choose precise and meaningful wording, with fluent syntax and correct grammar and spelling?

5) Does the author cite sources in a standard academic format (Chicago-style full notes, or MLA/APA in-line citations with bibliography) so that readers may easily locate them?

6) Does the essay inspire the reader to think about the topic in a new way?

See deadlines in the syllabus.

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