Final Paper Instructions

Your final assignment for this course is to choose one of your essays for Empire’s Progeny and extend it into a four to five page paper (1100 – 1400 words).

Schedule for Final Paper

ROUGH DRAFT DUE by end of the day November 25 on Canvas

Missing this deadline will hurt your grade dearly, as it will mean that you also will not be able to participate in the peer review process.  The rough draft should include at least 4 pages of writing and have a thesis sentence.

I will redistribute papers Nov 23 for peer review along with peer edit review sheet

PEER EDIT REVIEW SHEET DUE Nov 29; submit and provide to partner through Canvas

You will also receive substantive feedback on your paper from the professor


For your final paper, you are to choose one of the essays you wrote for Empire’s Progeny and create a more elaborate and sustained analysis about race in colonial Latin America with this as your anchor. I suggest that you start planning your paper around the thesis you created for Essay 1 or Essay 2; however, you should assume that your thesis will change as you collect sources and develop your ideas. Indeed, it would be strange if your thesis remained unaltered.

Once you have decided which source you’ll start with, you need to decide what other sources will help you develop the argument. Your final paper must include at least 4 other sources, at least one of which must be another student’s essay for Empire’s Progeny.  Sources may include:

  • Any source from Empire’s Progeny
  • Any readings for the course (including the podcast from the beginning of the semester)
  • Any student essay written for Empire’s Progeny and available on the map and timeline

Thus, for instance, your paper might be based on:

  1. Your original source/essay
  2. Another student’s brilliant essay on that same source
  3. Your other source/essay for Empire’s Progeny
  4. Stephanie Smallwood’s Saltwater Slavery
  5. A student’s essay about another source that you have not personally read

No additional reading is required: I neither expect nor want you to do any outside research for your paper. For this assignment, you should only read, review, and use course materials and your peers’ essays. 

IMPORTANT: It is not necessary to give each source equal space and emphasis in your paper. Your goal should be to use each only to the extent that it aids your argument. Some sources will merit a deep analysis, others might require just a brief mention.

How to choose materials:

These additional sources are to be used to develop the analysis of your primary source and your argument.  That is, they should be used to highlight factors about your source, flush out meaning through comparison, show change over time, demonstrate geographic reach of the phenomenon that you are writing about, et cetera.  Critical for your paper (and your grade) is that you wisely choose your additional sources and that you not just pick the first four that come to mind. 

The additional sources you choose to bring into your essay will depend on how you want to build your analysis. Imagine, for instance, that your main source and essay are about the spiritual practices of enslaved Africans in Havana, Cuba. We do not actually have other sources directly about slavery in Cuba, so you’ll have to be creative. First, you will probably want to draw on Stephanie Smallwood’s book that we read, because it provides a great counterpoint to your source, as Smallwood describes how slavery was aimed at the “social death” of the slave. It would be useful for showing the challenges that your spiritual practitioners faced. It is possible you might want to use the reading by Franklin Knight, as it provides some great background. Alternately, you might be able to use another student’s essay about “The Sugar Industry, Brazil,” for, even though it is not about Cuba, it is about the plantation regime, which was not all that different in the Caribbean. It might be very fruitful to contrast what your source says with the experience of Domingos Alvares that we read — that could produce very thought-provoking similarities and contrasts. It also could be very interesting to use another student’s essay about the source “Evangelizing Slaves, Cartagena,” as that source provides a perspective of what missionaries and colonists thought about the proper religiousness of slaves. That too would illustrate how your spiritual practitioners in Havana were skirting the strictures around race and religion.

Format: I will leave it up to you how to structure your paper (although I’ll also give you feedback on this). I encourage you to be both rigorous and creative. In other words, I am looking for you to use historical evidence and materials to build an analysis that speaks to the history of race and imperialism (and might also reflect on the present). How you structure this is open. A traditional five paragraph essay is acceptable: an intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. But I recognize that many ideas may not be expressible in this manner (and indeed, if we think about our lesson on literacy, the format itself could be considered oppressive). I therefore am open to alternative formats. Most important is that the assignment is intellectually stimulating and exciting for you. If you have an idea that you worry might be a bit of a stretch for a college essay, please email me and we can discuss: