Negotiating Cultural Differences in America

 

For this assignment, choose two of the “Historical Documents” authors we have read so far this term. Choose authors you have found interesting, engaging, or problematic in how they articulate the nature of cultural, racial, or gender differences in America.

In a well-documented and well-structured essay, compare your chosen texts in terms of how they argue for or against the negotiation of difference in America—in other words, how they argue for or against accommodating, rejecting, or compromising with the wide variety of differences (cultural, racial, ethnic, class, and so on) in America. Specifically, in your essay you should respond to the following questions:

  • How do the authors define what it means to be American?
  • Compare between each of the authors what it means to be civilized or savage, superior or inferior?
  • Assess how the texts argue for the inclusion or exclusion of certain groups. How do they justify inclusion?
  • Differentiate how the authors define or create a sense of different social roles for different groups. Examine how they are defined—by race, by ethnicity, by nation of origin, by gender, or something different. Why do the authors insist on maintaining these differences? How do the authors suggest these differences should be maintained and enforced?
  • Analyze how different voices in the readings challenge or reject these differences. Justify why they reject them. What are the benefits of inclusion and diversity?
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