1. the essay has to be at least seven pages, not counting bibliography. 
2. you are expected to cite sources in your essays (at least three total) and have a bibliography where you list those sources. You are expected to cite sources correctly and follow whatever convention is used in your discipline: MLA, Chicago, PLMAamong others. Make sure you let me know which convention you are using when you hand in your essay so I can see if you are citing properly.
3. I suggest you choose a class topic that you are passionate about. Be aware that when you choose a topic, any of the books or essays we have written have bibliographical references related to the topic; this is one of the many ways to come up with relevant materials. Keep in mind that it is not recommended to take references only from book bibliographies because your essay is going to be original. In other words, you don’t want to reproduce the exact same bibliographical train as another researcher just because he or she laid it out for you. A bibliography reflects an author’s specific necessities.
4. When you write an essay, you have to have an argument or some point of contentionand that argument must be drawn out—very clear in the introduction right after you introduce the topic to be discussed. Explain things clearly as if the reader could be anyone and therefore can have no prior knowledge of the topic. It can be in the form of: I will argue in this essay that X seems to be more valid that the hypothesis Y, or it can be in the form of 1-3 interrelated questions that you like to explore—you will state those questions. Remember that the reader of your essay wants to understand why you are writing what you are writing about and what your position is. An essay isn’t a summary but an exposition of what your particular reading is as you present materials. You want to show your thinking in relation to a topic. Keep your topic focused because seven pages is very short. Here’s an example of an argument for a paper. Some people think Pel did not address the problems of Afro-Brazilians and anti-black racism adequately. Instead, he often celebrated Brazilian national identity. However, once could also argue that he served as a role model for blacks around the world in other ways. What would those ways be? You want to present ideas that are debatable. Your essay isn’t a summary where you just present facts about something. If you want to explore music, a good way to do that could be of a videoclip or of a song or two by an artist. You might look into the significance of the album, the general themes, if they relate to a specific contemporary political issue. You might want to develop an argument from one of the readings on religion and relate it to something in another culturesay, another deity that is worshipped and that presents parallels be they racial or otherwise, etc (for example in Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Mexico and so on). 

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