Close Reading: Critical Analysis Essay
What: Write an essay based on research into primary sources on the life of one of the following enslaved/indentured/emancipated African or Indo-Caribbean Muslims in the Americas in the 15-19th centuries. For an example, please look at Omar ibn Sayyid’s autobiography and the essay by Alyres, but do not write your essay on him. Study available primary sources using print sources, library websites, archives, databases, digitized resources, manuscript facsimiles, artwork, artifacts. Also consult secondary scholarship to help you make sense of the material. (15% of your overall grade.)
How: The paper will be 4 pages, double-spaced, typed in size 12 Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. Please include an additional references/bibliography page. A title page is not necessary. Give it a worthy title, rather than “ES 395 Essay.” Use any citation format (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) but be consistent. While an essay, please do not use the “I” voice.
Why: Why an essay? Because it is what you discovered, your interpretation of the evidence, and why it’s important. At the end of the semester you will write a longer research paper. Often in conducting research the person you are learning about becomes objectified. However, they were human beings that experienced extreme hardships that we can barely imagine, and felt deeply about what they witnessed and went through. The more you look into their lives the more you become acquainted with them and can imagine what they felt and thought. This empathy for your subject as an interlocutor can help you to think through and write the paper. If you could ask them a set of questions, what would it be?
Where: Upload to Canvas.
Who: Biographies of the following individuals:
Estavanico (Mustafa al-Zamori)
Job ben Solomon (Ayyuba Sulaiman Diallo)
Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima Sori
Bilali Muhammad (Ben Ali)
Muhammad Jonas Bath
Salih Bilali of Massina
Rufino Jose Maria (Abuncare)
Nicholas (Mohammed Ali ben) Said
Abu Bakr as-Siddiq of Timbuktu
Muhammad Kaba Saghanughu
Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua
Lamine Kebe (Old Paul)
Luis Solano and Lope de la Pena
Open-ended questions to consider
What sources are available? What do the sources tell us? What do the sources omit?
What biases are evident in the framing or representation of the figure?
What evidence of Islamic faith is present in the sources?
What role does reading and writing play in the life of Muslims?
What does the biography/source tell us about Muslims in the Americas?
How do their accounts change current narratives?
What does the individual story contribute to the bigger picture?
How did the subject of your essay feel?
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