For this 6-8 page essay, you will write a paper that explores a question or theme from Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped. This assignment builds off your close reading skills that you practiced in your essay on the James Baldwin novel. But, in addition to analysis, you will be required to do research surrounding your topic. The goal of the research is to explore the ways in which your topic is currently being discussed by academics and scholars as well as learn how to insert your research into the larger academic conversation. For this assignment you will be asked to have four sources: Jesmyn Ward’s book, a biographical source, a historical source, and a comparative context source.
Men We Reaped: this will be your primary source. Your central argument will be rooted in Ward’s text. You will be expected to analyze her text in the context of the other sources.
BIOGRAPHICAL SOURCE: this secondary source will be academic in nature and should provide relevant biographical information on Jesmyn Ward. This source will help you understand where she grew up, her family life, her educational background, her influences, etc.
HISTORICAL SOURCE: this secondary source will be academic in nature and should provide relevant information surrounding the history of Ward/her work. There is overlap with biographical, but this one is different in that it provides a larger scope. For example, you might be able to explore themes like slavery, racism, education, poverty, the justice system, or any other larger historical moment that is significant to your argument.
COMPARATIVE CONTEXT SOURCE: this secondary source will be academic or popular in nature. Meaning, you are free to cite a scholarly journal, literary text, or things such as music albums, films, plays, comedy skits, or anything else that you would like to put into conversation with Jesmyn Ward’s memoir.