Midterm 1 assignment

Official date: 26 February 2018
Email deadline:
1 March 2018, 11:59pm


(This webpage is the assignment for our course's first midterm, to be updated until 19 February, when paper copies will be distributed.)


Format: Email. Open-book, open-notebook. No class meeting on 26 Februay but classroom available for students; instructor keeps office hours 4-7.


Email exams due to whiteC@uhcl.edu by 11:59pm Thursday 1 March. "Submission window" is 20 February-1 March.

If your exam will be late, no automatic discredit if you communicate.


Email your midterm1 submission to whiteC@uhcl.edu. (Most common mistake: students send to “white” rather than “whiteC)

Attach appropriate file(s) to an email for whiteC@uhcl.edu. (Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format works,)

and / or

Copy and paste contents of your essays into an email message to whiteC@uhcl.edu


Acknowledgement of receipt: Instructor usually replies that he's received your submission within a few hours (unless you send at an odd time). If you don't see an email confirmation within 24 hours, check if you emailed the right address: WhiteC@uhcl.edu.


Email problems? A problem or two with email (or computers generally) is normal in a class this size. Don't panic—communicate & we'll work things out.

Spacing: Single-spacing preferred. No need to double-space, but OK if you do. All submissions are converted to single-space for reading onscreen.  

Return of grades: App. 1-2 weeks after submission.

Contents:  3 essays (Essay 1 & Research Report to continue in midterm2 & final exam, plus Web Highlights on American Indian literature)


Three parts to Midterm1:

Part 1. Essay defining minority identity with references to American Indian literature & history. (At least 7 paragraphs; references to all major texts.)


Part 2. Web Highlights reviewing at least three Model Assignments from previous semesters incl. at least one previous final exam essay discussing American Indian literature & one research report from other courses' Model Assignments) (5+ paragraphs)


Part 3. Research Report Topic proposal on minority literature, culture, or history (for Research Report to start in Midterm2 and finish in Final Exam) (2 paragraphs.)


Special requirement: All three essays must have titles.

Advice: Draft Web Highlights first to acquaint yourself with standards, reinforce learning, and provide models for organization.


Special notes: Section contents may overlap or repeat materials, but be efficient; cross-reference to economize.

Confer with instructor any time regarding any part of your midterm: Office: Bayou 2529-7; Phone: 281 283 3380; Email: whitec@uhcl.edu



Part 1. Essay defining minority identity with references to American Indian literature & history. (At least 7 paragraphs; references to major texts.)


Use terms and themes from Course Objectives, definitions from term-webpages, historical backgrounds (American Indians as minority), and literary devices or purposes to introduce and develop examples from readings and presentations of American Indian Literature as minority (with possible relations to immigrant and / or dominant-culture). (Primary Objectives 1 & 2)


Optional approach: Describe your learning process. What did you arrive knowing or thinking about minorities generally and American Indians as a minority identity? What have you learned about Indians' identity as a minority culture from reading our American Indians' texts and surveying their history? How have literature and its various devices helped or enabled this learning process? Provide text-examples of minority identity, narrative, and literary devices. (Examples may serve more than one purpose.)


Develop the minority definition by contrasting immigrant or dominant-culture identity.


Refer to Course Objectives, esp. Primary Objectives 1 & 2 and Detailed Objective 3b. "Loss & Survival"


Required textual references to all assigned texts: American Indian Origin Stories: "Iroquois Creation Story"; "How the White Race came to America"; selections from Zitkala-Sa, American Indian Stories:  IMPRESSIONS OF AN INDIAN CHILDHOOD; THE SCHOOL DAYS OF AN INDIAN GIRL;  Louise Erdrich, The Round House; (extensive discussion)


Welcome to refer to poems from class: Chrystos, "I Have Not Signed a Treaty"; Simon J. Ortiz, "A New Story"; Louise Erdrich, “Indian Boarding School: The Runaways”; Louise Erdrich, "Family Reunion"


Don't ignore deep-historical backgrounds of minority group's origins and development, esp. in American Indians as minority.


FYI: Essay 1 will be revised and extended to a longer essay including Mexican American literature in Midterm2 and an even-longer essay including African American literature in the Final Exam.


Part 2.
Web Highlights
reviewing at least three Model Assignments from previous semesters reviewing at least three Model Assignments from previous semesters incl. at least one previous final exam essay discussing American Indian literature & one research report (from other courses' Model Assignments) (5+ paragraphs)

Examples: See LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature Model Assignments, LITR 4368 Literature of the Future Model Assignments, LITR 4370 Tragedy Model Assignments.

Purpose of assignment:
To acquaint students with performance standards*, minority definition, American Indian themes, and research report assignment. (*All Model Assignments are good work, though a few are more interesting than exemplary.)

Describe your learning experience from reviewing previous students' descriptions of American Indian literature and other courses' research reports (as well as anything else you learn).

Write Web Highlights as an essay with introduction and conclusion, not just a list of 3 items. Unify your learning experience. Connect the three assignments you review, either thematically or by what you learned.

Review at least one Essay  concerning American Indian literature from 2013 final exams or from earlier semesters in American Minority Literature Model Assignments. (Most of the essays discussing American Indian literature also discuss Mexican American literature, which we will cover for Midterm2.)


Review at least one research report on any topic from another course: LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature Model Assignments, LITR 4368 Literature of the Future Model Assignments, LITR 4370 Tragedy Model Assignments.


  Your third item may be any Model Assignments from LITR 4338 American Minority Literature, including earlier research assignments (which are not research reports).


  “Review”: Describe what interested you, why you chose it, and what you learned. You may criticize what you found, but not required. What did you learn from reviewing model assignments that you didn't learn from in-class instruction?


To identify passages, copy and paste brief selections into your web review or refer to them using names, locations, paraphrases, summaries, and brief quotes. (Both options in models.) Either way, highlight and discuss language used in the passages as part of your commentary.  


Requirement: Web Highlights essay must have a title.


Also remember to write it as an essay, not just a list of 3 items.


Note on organization and grading: Some students fulfill assignment by going through 3 assignments individually, one at a time until finished, with few or no connections between the separate models.


Better submissions unify the three reviews into a whole, purposeful essay in which the learning experience of one review connects to the learning experience of another, and your entire learning experience is previewed and summarized in the essay's introduction and conclusion.


Successful Web Highlights sometimes start by identifying a subject of special interest, then choosing models that meet this interest.




Part 3. Research Report Topic proposal (for Research Report to be begun in Midterm2 and concluded in Final Exam) (2 paragraphs.)


Examples of Research Proposals: from American Immigrant Literature of Research Proposals for 2016 Midterm1 and Research Proposals for 2013 Midterm1


Examples of Research Reports: LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature Model Assignments, LITR 4368 Literature of the Future Model Assignments, LITR 4370 Tragedy Model Assignments.


Assignment: Write 2 paragraphs of 3-5 sentences each identifying your probable topic for a research report. Why did you choose this topic? What do you want to learn? How? What do you already know?


End your proposal with a question for the instructor.


If you're stuck between 2-3 subjects, describe situation—instructor will help.


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, not required to clear with instructor. As part of your research report, you can write about how your subject changed. (That is, how your subject or interests evolved 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 minority literature as multicultural identity.

Look across the whole semester for possibilities—you're not limited to what we've covered so far.


Warning: The only recurrent mistake is topics that didn’t have anything to do with racial or ethnic minorities (i.e., American Indians, Mexican Americans, African Americans). You may discuss other minority classifications like gender or class, but these topics must connect to our course's concentration of racial or ethnic minorities


Nature of assignment: Your research report is not a typical literary essay in which you analyze the language, form, or meaning of individual texts. Instead, your topic must concern a factual figure, phenomenon, or movement in literary or cultural history about which you will learn.


Put another way, your report will find research about a literary or cultural topic and summarize what you learned about your subject of interest. 


Research requirements: Mention at least one research source relevant to your topic that you may use; even better if you report what you've learned from that source so far.


Possibilities for topics (plenty of others—these are just to help you start thinking):


a literary movement or style in a minority group—e. g. The Harlem Renaissance, early Mexican American writers, Slave Narratives, the American Indian Movement


History of a particular minority group and / or some literary or cultural movements or achievements associated with them. (see above)


An immigrant or ethnic group that mixes immigrant and minority traditions, e. g. New-World Immigrants like Haitian-Americans, Jamaicans, or other Afro-Caribbeans; Dominicans; Mexican Americans or other Central Americans? (This report can be partly about culture and history, partly about literature.)


A particular minority writer, e. g. any of our course's authors, or figures like Sherman Alexie; Sandra Cisneros; Richard Rodriguez; Toni Morrison; Langston Hughes. (Career review + bibliography of major writings—which you don't need to read but only read about.)


A minority-literature-related topic of a more formal literary nature focusing on narrative, language issues, publishing challenges, etc.


An artistic movement related to a minority group, e.g. hip-hop, Tejano music, soul music, American Indian powwows; ethnic foods.


The main thing is to choose a topic you care about and want to learn about and share.


To get a sense of this report’s possibilities, look at previous models on Model Assignments. No problem if you repeat an assignment—in fact, you may use previous research reports as sources for your own research requirements. LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature Model Assignments, LITR 4368 Literature of the Future Model Assignments, LITR 4370 Tragedy Model Assignments.


Response to Research Proposal

When your midterm-submission email is received, instructor will directly read your proposal and email a response.


Student does not receive a letter grade for the proposal, only a “yes” or instructions for receiving a yes. Students don't lose credit for problems reaching a topic as long as they keep working on it.


  The only way to get in trouble over proposal is by not doing enough, i.e., 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 minorities 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 Grade Report.

In other words, a few students obviously don't think about this topic until the last minute when the exam is due. Instructor can't act like that's acceptable, but you can recover.

Instructor welcomes inquiries on possible topics before Midterm1. Email, phone, confer in person.


Future developments:

Midterm2: 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.



Evaluation standards: Readability, competence levels, content coverage and development, and thematic unity.


Readability & surface competence: Your reader must be able to process what you're explaining. Given the pressures of a timed writing exercise, some rough edges are acceptable, but chronic errors or elementary style can hurt.


Content coverage & development: Comprehension of subject, demonstration of learning, use of course resources including instructional webpages + interest & significance: Reproduce course materials accurately but refresh with your own insights, examples, and experiences.


Thematic Unity and Organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish. Consult sites on Unity / Continuity / Transition & Transitions.