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PWR 2AH: Ethnic Narratives and the Rhetoric of American Identity

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In this class we will explore how race and ethnicity in America have become subjects of personal negotiations and public perception. The readings will address various topics such as biracial and bicultural identity, acculturation, stereotyping and self-image. For example, we will study a variety of narratives from contemporary American ethnic writers who explore the private and public aspects of their ethnic identity.

In addition, we will approach each of the writings in this class as an opportunity to practice in-class rhetorical analysis and oral presentation skills and to practice discovering specific research questions. For example, how do biracial and bicultural people define their ethnicity?  How does popular culture influence the perception of ethnic identities?

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5 min live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) After surveying a variety of topics and themes through the class readings, the proposal will help you focus on a particular issue of your choice that you can develop into a larger research essay and presentation. In previous classes students have written research based arguments on issues as diverse as how Chicanos and Asians are represented in Hollywood films and how young mixed race students seek recognition and acceptance from their peers.

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) For this assignment, you will write an academic essay based on the scholarship surrounding your topic and other related sources, texts, and narratives. Although you can focus on the issues that concern one particular author or ethnic community, your project can also be comparative, covering several ethnicities. For example, you can explore how advertisers use various ethnic images to sell products or what family issues may surface in inter-ethnic dating.

Delivery of Research

(10 minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support) This assignment asks you to deliver an oral presentation of your research argument using various supporting media, such as PowerPoint, film, sound clips, etc. Students will also present a short, 3-5 minute "practice" or "work-in-progress" report before the main presentation.

Genre/Mode Assignment

(3-5 minute presentation, 2-3 pages) This assignment will be delivered in two genres—as a written personal narrative and as an extemporaneous speech. You will reflect on your personal challenges and the lessons you've learned in integrating research and presentation strategies and in translating your ideas from a written to an oral form.

Notes: No multimedia will be needed for the midterm presentation, but it will be necessary for the final presentation to illustrate your research ideas. The amount and type of multimedia needed for your presentations will depend on the nature of your project. There will be no Canvas website for this class, but there will be a required class reader available at the Stanford Bookstore.