(This webpage is the assignment for our course's
first midterm. This page will be
updated and refined up to 30 September.)
Two parts to Midterm1:
Essay comparing and contrasting immigrant and minority
narratives and cultures. (At least 7 paragraphs.)
Research proposal (for Research Report on Final Exam) (with
update on Midterm 2) (At least 2 paragraphs.)
Format: in-class or email
No regular class meeting on 7
October but classroom available for students who want to write exam in-class;
instructor keeps office hours 7-10.
Email exams due to
firstname.lastname@example.org by 9pm Tuesday,
8 October. "Submission window" is 31 September-8 October.
Confer with instructor or Writing Center any time regarding
either part of your midterm: Office: Bayou 2529-7; Phone: 281 283 3380;
Part 1. Essay
(90-120 minutes, 7+ paragraphs) describing the
immigrant narrative in
comparison and contrast with the
Using examples from readings, presentations, and discussions, compare and
minority narratives as
How do immigrants' and minorities' stories respond differently to their
peoples' histories relative to the USA? Where do the two narratives and cultures converge and diverge?
Refer to Objectives 1-3 (at
bottom of syllabus / homepage).
Try also to discuss and cite examples of
"Model Minority" immigrants and the
Dominant culture. For instance, how do Immigrant and Minority cultures relate
differently to the dominant culture? Where do "Model Minority" immigrants
fit relative to immigrants, minorities, and dominant cultures?
Compare the immigrant and minority narratives also as
stories that interest, confirm, or challenge their audience. What different
aesthetic appeals do the
two kinds of narratives make? What different purposes do readers find in
them? How do readers—regardless of
their particular ethnic identity—identify with these stories
Special requirements / options:
Required: Somewhere in your essay, make a reference to one or more previous
midterms from this course's Model Assignments.
to course objectives 1-3 including terms, plus or minus other objectives.
Optional: personal references:
Not required, but you may refer to your own backgrounds,
previous knowledge, and interpretations of the materials. Relate all such
materials to the assignment or objectives.
Textual requirements: Refer to 6+
texts from course readings—either daily assigned readings, poems presented, or
Crevecoeur) on course webpage.
- Of the 6 required texts, 2-3 should
exemplify the immigrant narrative and 2-3 should exemplify the minority
- Of the 6 texts, at least four
should be prose pieces from Imagining America, fiction or nonfiction handouts
or webpage texts. Two texts may be poems presented, or use all prose texts
- Welcome to refer to quotes or ideas
from earlier midterms on the Model Assignments, but the Web Review part of
our midterm makes this optional.
available for essay
Immigrant texts (select at least 2)
Minority texts (select at least 2)
Part 2. Write a
proposal for your
Research Report topic (to
be developed in Midterm2 and completed as part of final exam).
Assignment: Write 3-5 sentences
identifying your probable topic for a research report. Why did you choose this
What do you want to learn? How? Indicate what you already know.
If you're stuck between 2-3 subjects, describe
situation--instructor will help guide.
Remember you can change your subject, or your subject
can evolve as you do research. If your subject changes completely,
clear with instructor. If your subject evolves but stays more or less the same,
no need to clear with instructor--but you could write about how your subject
changed as part of your research report. (That is, how your subject changes can
be part of the learning experience you describe.)
Range of subjects: You have
considerable freedom to choose, but anyone reading your proposal should immediately
recognize its relevance to a class on immigrant literature and
Warning: The only recurrent
mistakes made last time were that some students proposed
pure Minority topics
that didn’t have anything to do with immigration or the immigrant narrative.
This course doesn’t exclude Minority Literature, but such a topic is more
appropriate for our
American Minority Literature
course. You can involve Minority
identities and narratives, but they must relate to Immigrant literature or
identity in some direct and obvious way.
Possibilities for topics:
- Literature of an immigrant group—e.
g. Chinese-American, Mexican-American, Turkish-American.
- History of a particular immigrant
group and / or some literary or cultural movements associated with them.
- An immigrant or ethnic group that
mixes immigrant and minority traditions, e. g. Haitians, Jamaicans, or other
Afro-Caribbeans; Dominicans; Mexican Americans?
- Literature associated with a
particular immigrant writer, e. g. Gish Jen, Frank McCourt, Henry Roth,
Anzia Yezierska. (Career review + bibliography of major
immigrant-literature-related topic, perhaps of a more formal literary nature
focusing on narrative, language issues, publishing challenges, etc.
- The main thing is for you to choose a
topic you care about and want to learn about and share.
- To get a sense of this report’s
possibilities is to look at previous models on
Response to Research Proposal
- When email submitting your midterm is
received, instructor will directly read your proposal and offer a response.
- Student does not receive an
announced letter grade for the proposal, only a “yes” or instructions for
receiving a yes, plus . Students don't lose credit for problems reaching a
topic as long as they are working on it.
- The only way to get in trouble over proposal is if you simply don’t offer much
to work with, especially after prompts from instructor. A bad
proposal is one sentence starting, “I’m thinking about . . . ” and
ending “ . . . something to do with immigration and gender.” Then, “What do you think?” In these cases, a bad grade isn’t
recorded, but notes regarding the paper proposal may appear on the Final
- In other words, a few students obviously don't think
about this topic until the last minute when the midterm is due. Instructor
can't act like that's cool.
Instructor welcomes inquiries on possible topics before Midterm 1. Email, phone,
confer in person.
Midterm 2: 4-5 paragraphs describing your research and learning
so far on your topic and how it relates to American Immigrant Literature.
Final Exam: 8-10 paragraph report summarizing your research and
learning on your topic and how it relates to our course.
instructions on format / submission:
in Word or Rich Text Format
file; attach and paste into email message
email@example.com (or reply to my email)
You may take breaks and write the midterm's 3 parts
in installments plus review and revision.
Complete your Research Report
Proposal ahead of time and submit it with the rest of your midterm
compose it while writing your exam.
After finishing but before submitting your exam:
Take a break, review objectives; edit essay and report, add
examples and use course terms.
Guides for anticipating grading and comments:
Surface competence / readability:
An occasional careless error won't kill your grade, given time
pressures, but repeated or chronic errors are remarked and factored. If you have trouble with spelling, word endings, punctuation, etc.,
get help from a mentor or tutor (ask them to explain help).
Content: Use, explain, and apply course terms;
refer frequently to objectives and texts.
Thematic organization: emphasize central
themes of your essay. Connect parts of
essay to form a unified whole. Use transitions. Organize paragraphs
with topic sentences. (Helpful websites:
unity, continuity, and transition;
Thesis, topic sentences,
The best exams use terms, themes,
and objectives recognizable from class meetings, demonstrate understanding of
terms and objectives with quick working definitions and application to examples
from texts, while also extending and refreshing common
materials with the student's own language, examples, and analyses of shared
Lesser exams talk about the texts but ignore terms and
objectives. Students write what they would have said before starting the course.
Instructor replies, "You could have written this without taking the course."
Don't make me write this!
revise for more on origins of two groups