AFS 211: Black Earth First Essay Assignment James McCorkle
Our first essay assignment focuses on Charles Ball’s slave narrative. Please note that it is due Friday February 23, 2018, later than as stated on the syllabus.
Discuss how Charles Ball’s Slavery in the United States. A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, a Black Man establishes a specific approach to the American vision of nature, the landscape, and the environment. In what ways might we think of Ball and his narrative as quintessentially “American” and as an early example of “environmental” and “nature” writing. In addressing this topic, you must substantially consider how his awareness of his “blackness” defines, interrogates, and radicalizes his approach to and understanding of “nature.”
To help frame, support, or elaborate upon your argument, please cite from at least two of the following essays/chapters that we have read: “African Food and the Atlantic Crossing,” “The Africanization of Plantation Food Systems,” “Guinea’s Plants and European Empire” ( these are from Rosamoff and Carney’s In the Shadow of Slavery); “Slavery and the Origins of African American Environmentalism” (by Mart Stewart); “Strange Rendings of Nature” or “Race Natures” (by Kimberly Smith). They are all on our Canvas site.
Nuts and Bolts
The double-spaced, typed essay must be approximately 1200 words total—please provide a word count at the very end of the essay. Make sure you provide a title that indicates the focus of the essay. Your essay must follow the most current MLA format for in-text, parenthetical citations and in so doing, must include a “Works Cited” page at the end of the essay. (The Colleges’ Library’s homepage has links to useful reference and citation formatting style-sheets.)
Your essay, above all, must be original, concise, and cogently expressive! Your essay should be thoughtfully organized—thus revise, move paragraphs around, think of the best arrangement of your ideas and indeed how to arrange those ideas. Plagiarism will result in an automatic failure for the essay—so be cognizant of citing your sources. Revise multiple times, copyedit, and proofread—no college-level essay should contain multiple mechanical errors.
There are many resources if you have questions—starting with your professor, and including writing colleagues at CTL (second floor of the Library), and frequently scheduled writing table at the IC.
The essay is due—no electronic submissions—on Friday February 23, 2018 at class time.
A General Rubric for Evaluation of Essays
A paper in the “A” range has no mechanical errors (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.); will be well-organized, with a clear and original argument. The main points of the essay are well-supported with cogently selected examples; the documentation conforms to the MLA format. The essay has to be engaging—it flows, it is concise but packed with insight.
In a paper in the “B” range the various points may not flow as well as they might, the examples used may be less clear, the paper may go off on tangents (possibly interesting ones, but not immediately relevant to the argument). A couple of mechanical errors pop up on each page, but nothing more troubling such as sentence fragments or awkward phrases. Your conclusion may sound too much like your introduction!
A paper in the “C” range does not have a clear thesis—you either are not sure of what you are seeking to propose, investigate, or argue for or your thesis is far too general. The problem with the thesis carries over to the main points of the essay—they may not fit together very well or you might be repeating yourself, for example. Best honest—did you give yourself enough time? Did you have to rush to finish the essay? Lots of mechanical errors indicates you weren’t attentive in the very mechanical process of proofreading! Did you title your essay? Remember to provide a “Works Cited” section?
In a paper in the “D” range punctuation and spelling errors abound; sentence fragments and awkward or confusing phrasing are present. There is little effort to put forward an original argument . . . My guess is that you did not give yourself much time to write much more than a single draft of the essay.
A paper not turned in or in an unacceptable form receives 0 points—unless you meet with me prior to the due date of the paper. Neither late essays nor electronically submitted essays are accepted.