I’m trying to study for my English course and I need some help to understand this question.
The writers we’ve read so far this semester have all struggled in different ways with feeling like an outsider in the United States, regardless of their citizenship status. In a 4-5 page, thesis-driven essay that analyzes these writers’ experiences, and possibly your own, answer the following question:
In your own words, and going beyond the technical or legal definition, what does it mean to be a citizen? You should come up with a few criteria or main ideas to explore.
Brent Staples, “Black Men and Public Space”
Claudia Rankine, “You are in the car, in the dark”
Gloria Anzaldúa, “How To Tame A Wild Tongue”
Amy Tan, “Mother Tongue”
Jose Antonio Vargas, Dear America: Notes From An Undocumented Citizen
How important is legal documentation to citizenship?
Are there any personal qualities that citizens have? Why or how are they important?
How should citizens contribute to their country? What are their responsibilities? What should they be able to expect from their country in return? (privileges and rights)
How do you think these writers would define citizenship? Does your definition differ from theirs? Why or why not?
What complicating factors influence these writers’ experience of citizenship? (whether legal, racial, linguistic, social, familial, etc.)
In what ways can a citizen fall short of their responsibilities? In other words, are there un-citizen-like behaviors, beliefs or attitudes?
PLEASE MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS
Are these writers treated like citizens? Why or why not?
In the case of Vargas, should he be granted legal US citizenship? Why or why not?
- In your INTRODUCTION, introduce your topic. Your job here is to provide context and get readers interested in reading more. You might briefly introduce the texts you’ll be using as support (writers’ names, titles, publication dates, jobs, awards, etc.). You might briefly summarize or quote from one or more of them. At the end of the introduction, state your thesis. Your thesis should be the last sentence of the first paragraph and should present your definition of citizenship. It should one sentence only and should not be a question. Your thesis is your central idea and should reflect your interpretation of citizenship. It need not list the essay’s main points.
- I’d like you to incorporate one current event or situation that relates to this topic in the introduction of your essay. The goal is to create context from the world we are all living in and relate it to the topic of your essay in order to show how this topic is relevant. You might, for instance, look at current immigration debate and policies if you’re writing about Jose Antonio Vargas, Gloria Anzaldúa or Amy Tan. You could look police violence or racial profiling if you are writing about Brent Staples or Claudia Rankine. You could look at the representation of your writer’s identity in television, film or in the news and relate that to your discussion of their experience. You could bring in this being a presidential election year and the political climate.
- In two or three BODY PARAGRAPHS, explain what you think defines citizenship. You should have 2-3 main ideas with one paragraph for each. For instance, if you think citizens are people who contribute to society, you could explain what that means in your opinion and then provide examples from the texts we’ve read. As always, develop your ideas with examples, explanations, quotes, compare and contrast, and other methods of development. You can analyze important experiences these writers have had by showing how the person does or does not experience true citizenship in the United States, according to your own definition. You should also introduce some complexity to your analysis by exploring what you don’t see as requirements for citizenship, or bringing in examples of legal citizens who are not treated as such. You might explore unexamined ideas of citizenship, meaning those automatic ideas people carry around in their heads that actually aren’t true upon further consideration, or unconscious bias (for instance, the stigma against accents). Please note: Each paragraph should contain only ONE main idea and its first sentence (topic sentence) should indicate what the paragraph will be about. Every sentence should clearly support, elaborate on, and connect to that topic sentence.
- In your CONCLUSION, briefly summarize your main points in the essay (1-2 sentences). Then explain why your ideas are important for American life today. What are the implications of citizenship, identity, and discrimination? How are these issues important to American culture, politics, or daily life? In other words, why should anyone care about these topics?
- Use MLA style, including in-text citations, margins, spacing, font and Works Cited page, which will not count towards the page length requirement. You must properly introduce any quotes, paraphrase or summary from your sources.
- You need at least one quote from the assigned texts in each paragraph of your essay, but you do not need to quote from every text in every paragraph.
- You should reference at least two of the texts in your essay.
- You must quote or summarize at least two of the assigned readings in your essay.
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