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Short Essay Exercises

1.
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Identify some key ways that Ernest J. Gaines unifies southern African America as the single town, Bayonne, Louisiana. What elements of his close scrutiny of this hamlet work to provide an analysis of African America at large?
2.
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Analyze the influences of the vernacular tradition on Maya Angelou's poetry.
3.
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To what extent and what effect does Harryette Mullen mix traditional quatrains in her poetry with postmodern tropes?
4.
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Examine the setting of Sam Delany's Atlantis: Model 1924 for rhetorical elements generally exclusive to science fiction. What are the key elements that separate science fiction from other genres?
5.
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Examine the white character in August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone. What is Selig's chief function in the play?
6.
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At the end of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Loomis denounces his Christian faith. What is the role of religion and superstition in this play? What is the significance of Bynum's "voodoo" rituals?
7.
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What tropes and stylistic devices distinguish Rita Dove's poetry from that of her Black Arts era compeers?
8.
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Why is Sula feared (even hated) by the people who live in the Bottom? What problems does she present, and what problems do people ignore by directing their hatred toward her?
9.
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In Parks's Topdog/Underdog, Lincoln tells Booth to remember "what is" and "what aint." Review "what is" and "what aint" in the play and consider Parks's play as a statement about the impossibility of distinguishing illusion from reality.
10.
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In Natasha Trethewey's poems, what aspects of home can the speaker not reclaim? Does this in ability to return home or reconnect with one's past jibe with other contemporary African American writings?

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