Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

PWR 1AH: The Rhetoric of the American Multicultural Experience

Main content start

Writing about her experience as an immigrant from Ghana, Meri Nana-Ama Danqua states that the one place she "found acceptance was in the company of other immigrants." Other contemporary writers such as Kenji Yosino and Henry Louis Gates refer to the challenges of being accepted when commenting on what it means to live in our ethnically diverse society. And through a more theoretical discourse, sociologist Stephan Thernstrom explains cultural assimilation while historian David Hollinger contemplates a post-ethnic America. In this class, while focusing on the central theme of social acceptance, we will also explore how individuals from various ethnicities can negotiate the clash between old and new values to forge a new sense of identity, family, and community.

We may also cover other topics such as language and identity, ethnic labeling, growing up biracial and bicultural, and how ethnicity is represented in film, popular culture and the media. The critical thinking skills practiced in this class will guide students towards a research-based argument and a final research presentation.

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1200-1500 words or 4-5 pages): For the first short assignment, students will write an analysis of the rhetorical strategies based on a reading covered in class. For this assignment, the required class reader will provide students with a variety readings to consider.

Texts in Conversation

(1800-2400 words or 6-8 pages): Students will write a short analytical essay, interrelating and comparing writers and researchers from different fields to see how their arguments can address a particular central issue, one that can lead to a research based argument.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words or 12-15 pages): The skills learned through the first two essays will provide a solid foundation for students to write a longer research argument. Students might choose to write on interracial marriage, or on what it means to be bilingual, bicultural and of mixed race. In past classes, students have also written on how immigrants assimilate to American culture and on a variety of other issues concerning multiculturalism in education.

Other Notes: Students will give a final presentation based on their long research essay. In addition, the last writing assignment will be a self-reflective essay (2-3 pages) in which students will be able to reflect on the writing and critical thinking skills they have learned throughout the quarter. There will also be many in-class activities such as regular oral reports and peer review workshops. All students will be required to bring rough drafts to class on selected days for peer review workshops and to explore revision possibilities. The syllabus may be downloaded from the Canvas website on the first day of class. However, the readings for this class will be included in the required class reader, which will be available only through the Stanford Bookstore.