Cultural Identity Assignment #2: Family History Case Study

Family histories are often connected to larger historical events or social movements in unexpected ways. For example, the writer Malcolm Gladwell’s great-great grandparents participated in the Australian gold rush while the poet Peter Balakian’s grandmother escaped persecution in Turkey. Your task in this assignment is to explain how a significant historical event or social movement affected the course of your family’s history and to connect your new knowledge about the event or movement to your sense of your own cultural identity.

Your work on the assignment will proceed in stages: first, you will survey your memories, your knowledge of your family’s history, and information gathered from other family members to identify a relevant historical event or social movement; next, you will formulate a research question related to a specific event or movement; then you will use library resources to inform your understanding; and finally you will draft a 3-5 page essay summarizing your findings and reflecting on how they alter your sense of your own cultural identity. You will present your final draft to the class.

Audience: Family members and members of the class

Format: 1200 words (4-5 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best case studies will provide a clear summary (supported by library research ) of the cultural event connected to your family’s history and include detailed reflection on how what you’ve learned about your family’s cultural context affects your sense of your own identity.


Type: Develop an argument to analyze the tension between two sources

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to introduce the research process, including posing research questions, gathering information from direct and indirect sources, accessing library resources, incorporating evidence from outside sources using in-text citation, and creating a Works Cited page.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Posing research questions and narrowing research focus
  2. Developing interview questions and practicing active listening and note-taking
  3. Identifying and accessing library research sources (in a library session and in class)
  4. Annotating sources: paraphrase and summary of sources, paraphrase and summary of own writing
  5. Practicing in-text citations and formatting entries for a Works Cited page
  6. Reporting on progress to class

CulturalIdentity_Assignment2 (doc)

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