Write a research essay of 2500-3000 words that responds to one of the following prompts:

1. Compare and contrast A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park by focusing on a single issue: race; class; the effect race has on class; the effect class has on race; the effect both race and class have on property ownership; the effect race and/or class have on marital relationships; how racial considerations motivate the character’s actions; etc.
2. Compare and contrast the gentrification of Clybourne Park, as it is presented in the play Clybourne Park, with gentrification either in Santa Barbara, or in your hometown.  (You need to know the area well.)

3. In the 1950s, institutional racism (discrimination in housing, employment, education, government services, etc.) played a large role in denying African-Americans their civil rights.  In the 2000s, gentrification has become a new form of institutional racism that once again threatens to deny African-Americans equal opportunity.  Write an essay that focuses on the ways that gentrification in Clybourne Park represents a version of the institutional racism found in A Raisin in the Sun.

4. Compare and contrast the two acts of Clybourne Park.  How has racism changed over the past 50 years?  In what ways does it still persist?  Be specific.  Focus on particular characters, speeches, actions, props (including the set), etc.
5. Write an essay that traces all the connections between A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park.

You’ll probably want to start with characters (and their relatives) that the plays have in common, but then dig deeper into the real situation of institutionalized racism in Chicago’s Clybourne Park area and how it has changed over the years.
6. All the families in A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park seem to be seeking some version of the “American Dream.”  Develop a definition of the American Dream, then apply it to the two plays as you investigate 1) which characters are coming closest to achieving that dream, 2) which characters are failing, and 3) why one group is more successful than the other.

You must use at least 10, but no more than 15, critical/secondary sources.   Correctly document your citations using MLA style documentation and include a separate Works Cited page. Your sources will probably come from multiple academic fields, but each author must be an authority in her/his field.


Assignment Focus, Support & Development    Mechanics & Style    Research & Documentation
A: 90-100    The essay always follows the assignment, thoroughly and insightfully describing, investigating and responding to the chosen chapter’s research question.  The thesis and topic sentences are exceptionally clear, narrow and focused, and supporting evidence is plentiful and expertly selected.    The writing is easy to follow and mostly error-free. The writer demonstrates a mastery of both language and subject matter.

The essay contains 10-15 excellent secondary sources, which are correctly documented in the text of the paper and on a Works Cited page. Quotation, paraphrase and summary are expert and accurate.
B: 80-89    The essay generally follows the assignment: describing, investigating and responding to the chosen chapter’s research question.  The thesis and topic sentences are clear, and supporting evidence is more than satisfactory.    The essay contains relatively few sentence-level errors, with the writer usually choosing correct words, varying sentences effectively,

and observing the conventions of written English.    The essay contains at least 10 solid secondary sources, all of which are correctly documented. Quotation, paraphrase and summary are usually correct.
C: 70-79    The essay sometimes does not follow the assignment.  Description, investigation and response to the chosen chapter’s research question are occasionally awkward or inappropriate.

The thesis and topic sentences may be less than clear, and supporting evidence is no more than satisfactory.    While there may be some errors, the writer generally observes the conventions of written English.    The essay contains 10 sources, some of which may be inappropriate for the paper, or incorrectly documented. Quotation, paraphrase and summary are faulty.

D: 60-69    The essay often does not follow the assignment.  Description, investigation and response to the chosen chapter’s research question  are often awkward and/or inappropriate. The thesis and topic sentences are vague, and supporting evidence is insufficient.    One or more patterns of sentence-level errors are pervasive, making the essay difficult to read.

The essay contains fewer than the required 10 sources; some may be poorly chosen. Serious problems with documentation.
F: 59 and below    The essay does not follow the assignment and/or is extremely confusing and/or is significantly shorter than 2500 words. Very brief essays and/or those that do not follow the assignment will result in the student receiving an

“F” grade for the entire paper.    Mechanics and style in the research paper are so different than the writing done by the student for the online Journal entries and Discussion Forum posts that the research paper appears to be the work of another writer altogether.    The essay contains only a few or none of the required secondary sources. Documentation is missing or entirely incorrect = “F” grade for entire essay.

* * *

Here are answers to some questions you might have:

Q. Is it okay for my research paper to have an opinion?

A. Absolutely!  I don’t know how you’ll be able to write it without having an opinion.  In fact, even if your research question suggests that you ought to look at both sides of an issue, I’d like you to clearly choose one side or the other in your thesis and argue toward that point throughout your essay.


Q. Do I need to cite paraphrases as well as direct quotations?

A.  Yes.  Even summaries need to be cited.  When in doubt, cite your source.  It’s much better to err on the side of being too careful than to receive a “0” and be reported to the academic Dean for plagiarism.  And it’s usually better to use short direct quotations than paraphrases.


Q. If I’m not sure about the publisher, is it okay, just to put “N.p.”?

A. Probably not.  All semester long, I’ve been seeing, “N.p., n.d” in Works Cited pages.  Granted, Web pages sometimes do not have a publication date, but they nearly always have a publisher.  Just look at the Web address, or the header at the top of the page.

And if you can’t tell you who publisher is because you’re on a blog or a sketchy commercial site, then you probably don’t want to use the source anyway.


Q. Are you really going to check every source I use?

A. Yep.  Pretend you’re a reporter and I’m your editor.  We’re about to publish a big story, and we want to make sure every source we have is credible in case our news organization is sued.

Are you willing to stand behind every source you cite?  Are you willing to risk your job for some nitwit on a blog or a paper mill or helium or about.com?  When in doubt, strike it out, and find something better.   One-third of your grade for this assignment is allotted to “Research and Documentation.”  If you do a lousy job in this area, you’re going to get a lousy grade.


Q.  Anything else?

A.  Make sure you look carefully at the rubric before you turn in your research paper.  Does your essay always follow the assignment?  Are the thesis and topic sentences exceptionally clear, narrow and focused?  Is the supporting evidence plentiful and expertly selected?  Have you revised, edited and proofread the paper many times so that it reads smoothly and contains no careless errors?


Q. It’s a research paper, so it should mostly just be made of my sources, right?

A. Wrong.  Your sources are there to support your own ideas, not to take over the essay.


Q. It’s a research paper, so it should be boring, right?

A. Wrong!  If it’s boring to you, imagine how much more boring it will be to me.  Give us both a reason to enjoy reading the essay.


Q. I’m reading from an ebook I downloaded on my tablet.  How do I cite it?

A. The answer to your question is right here.

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