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Short Essay Exercises

1.
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To what extent do the historical allusions in Malcolm X's autobiography support his assertions about the education system of the United States?
2.
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How do you interpret Etheridge Knight's assertion that "life and art cannot be separated"? Identify passages in the anthology selections of his poetry that illustrate this contention.
3.
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To what extent does Knight's poetry deploy conventions of black vernacular orality?
4.
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What implicit definition of Black Nationalism emerges in Dutchman by Amiri Baraka?
5.
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What rhetorical devices does Toni Cade Bambara use to expose sociopolitical hypocrisies in U.S. systems constructed or endorsed by white supremacy and capitalism?
6.
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What does James Alan McPherson's "Problems of Art" reveal about white attitudes toward blacks? About black attitudes toward whites? What techniques does McPherson use to force the reader to confront his/her own attitudes?
7.
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Examine work by Baraka, Cleaver, Bullins and Neal and consider the role prescribed for females by these writers. Now, read texts by Jordan, Sanchez, Bambara, and Lorde and look for areas of agreement and disagreement.
8.
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Consider violence in Black Arts-era writing (you might think about Baraka's Slave Ship, Bullins's Clara's Ole Man, and Henderson's "Keep on Pushing"). Is violence a tool for liberation? A trap into which black characters fall again and again?
9.
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Using the manifestoes by James Stewart, Larry Neal, and Haki Madhubuti, draft a short statement of the guiding principles of the Black Arts movement and name one work that seems to embody those principles in terms of both form and content.
10.
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According to Cortez, what is the role of the artist in the black community?
11.
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What images or phrases in Nikki Giovanni's poetry can be argued as expressing a militant disposition?

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