Essay 4: Primary Source Analysis
Perform a primary source analysis of one of the primary sources we read this week (Senghor, Cabral, or Touré). In an analysis of 1000-1250 words, explain the importance of the author’s argument as it relates to the context in which he (or she) wrote. In your analysis, consider the following questions (which may require some research on your part beyond our course readings):
- Who wrote the document?
- What was the author’s bias, if any?
- Who is the intended audience?
- What type of document is it? (e.g., personal letter, official report, diary entry)
- What is the topic (subject) and thesis (what the author says about the subject) of the document?
- Where was the document written? Is this place the subject of the document? What importance does the setting have to understanding the document?
- When was the document written? What was the historical context for the document? (i.e., what was going on at the time which might have influenced the author’s opinions?)
- Why was the document written? The purpose may be stated in the document itself or it may have to be inferred by reading between the lines (is it, for instance, an attempt to justify/explain the author’s behavior).
- Is the document credible (believable)? Why or why not?
I do not want a summary of the document. I also don’t expect you to reiterate every single point the author wrote. You will have to weigh what is most important and make an argument based on those observations.What I do want is for you to make your own argument about the document and its writer (i.e. why you think the author wrote the article, what is at stake for the writer, what is puzzling, surprising, or contradictory about what he wrote) and why this document is important. Remember, I’ve already read the document. I want you to tell me something new and original. If you find places where the author contradicts himself, or places that seem to be in tension, these places often make great fodder for formulating your own claims about the document. When you make an assertion about the text (and you should), make sure that you back it up. Picture me asking you, “How do you know?” If you cannot answer this question from the document, consider refining your assertion. Depending on secondary literature we’ve read for this course thus far (and perhaps one or both of the other primary sources we’ve read for this week), place this work in historical context while you place yourself in the mindset of the writer. Tell me why this primary source was and/or should be considered important to the history of nationalisms and postcolonial nation-states in Africa.
Please employ the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) format for your citations, which can be found under the “Citation Management” tab from the Cornell Library’s website, also provided here: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html.
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