Chicano Studies – final exam (What is Acuña’s Thesis?)

What is Acuña’s thesis? (15 points each)


For your final exam, you will discuss and analyze the history, identity, and experience of Mexicans/Chican@s of the United States based on Occupied America, by Historian Dr. R. Acuña. You will achieve/answer this by selecting 8-10 quotes from Occupied America. You will write an essay where you will use these quotes as evidence to present your analysis of Acuña’s history of Mexican Americans.

Your final essay exam will be graded on two dimensions: Structure and Elements. I have gone ahead and clearly outlined each below. The Structure describes the technical requirements for your final exam and is worth a total of 150 points. The Elements dimension expresses your understanding and ability to academically apply course curriculum effectively in writing.

This is an academic course which means all responses are graded based on academic integrity and structure. Please remember to cite and substantiate your claims/argument with book/page or lecture references. Your final exam is due in 7 days.



STRUCTURE (150 points)


Paragraph 1 (25 points)

Introduction / Thesis

Set the stage in one paragraph. Introduce your reason(s) for selecting the quotes you will present and analyze. Based on your selected quotes, what is Acuña’s argument about the history, identity, and experience of Mexicans/Chican@s of the United States? Your thesis statement should answer “What is Dr. Acuña’s central argument in Occupied America?”

Paragraphs 2-10 (100 points)

Quote Analysis. For each of the 8-10 quotes, write a paragraph using the following steps:

Introduce and frame the quote.
Write the Quote with citation.
Paraphrase the quote.
Analyze the quote.
Evaluate the quote.
Paragraph 10-11 (25 points)

Closing Remark. Discuss the historical implications behind Acuña’s thesis.

The concluding paragraph doesn’t just repeat the argument. The last paragraph, sometimes two final paragraphs, reintroduce the argument in order to shed more light on the significance and implications behind such an argument. Your closing remarks should explore the implications behind Acuña’s argument and end on a powerful note.





The elements below represent the second dimension I will be grading as part of your Final Exam. Your academic paper will be evaluated on your ability to achieve each element effectively. Your final submission should offer high quality writing that is both clear and substantive. Each of the elements is worth 25 points.

Definitive Quotes (20 points)

The quotes you select should support your thesis statement (“What is Acuña’s argument?”). Never let quotes stand on their own—explain them. There is one skill for picking out relevant quotes from a text, and another skill involved in understanding what it says. For each you will present and analyze it. Be sure to pick quotes throughout the book, with a focus on the 20th century (1900s). See this short guide to quote analysis
(Links to an external site.)
by UC Berkeley.

Historical Dates (20 points)

Considering Dr. Acuña’s argument is a historical one, based on primary and secondary sources, dates and events are crucial. While the quotes you use will likely not have dates in them, it will be up to you to incorporate important dates and events into paragraphs to provide a sense of time and place in Mexican American history.

Thesis Statement (20 points)

Your essay’s thesis statement is a sentence that answers the question, “What is Acuña’s argument in Occupied America?” Your thesis needs to be stated upfront, usually at the end of the introduction. Your introduction should fit the body of your essay. The thesis ought to tell your reader exactly what you will be arguing in your paper. In addition, it ought to give the reader some hint about why you’re going to argue that way.

Academic Coherence (20 points)

The organization of the essay is clear and academically cited. The essay is organized according to the narrative behind Acuña’s argument. Throughout the body, the essay introduces and discusses analytic points that best support the thesis. Each paragraph is unified around a clear main point. Paragraphs each highlight a point in your argument and avoid unrelated topics. Quotations are punctuated correctly and integrated well into the essay to narratively support your thesis.

Course Concepts (20 points)

This course has introduced you to a new way to think that includes how to makes sense of issues around American identity and experience based on historical evidence in order to improve your objective understanding of U.S. history. Analysis is different than opinion or commentary. Opinion is strictly what you think. Evidence or education is not required. Commentary is an elaborated form of informed opinion. Depends if it is an expert or layperson, a commentary may imply accepted known facts in its general argument. Unlike the opinions or commentaries, analysis considers the evidence at hand and draws meaning from it using theoretical concepts and frameworks. In your final exam, your writing needs to demonstrate your ability to apply course concepts in your quote analysis. In other words, use concepts discussed in class to analyze quotes and create a strong argument.





I’d like to take a moment right now to describe in general terms the way I will read and interpret your final exam. I’ve laid out my remarks concerning letter grades below in order to give you a better sense of the impression and quality behind an academic essay.


You wrote an “A” Paper when …

Paper offers a high quality of writing, organization, and precision. The mechanics are perfect in grammar, spelling and punctuation, reflecting time and thought put into the work, so that it is a seamless reading experience. Clearly justified and very easy to follow, so that the reader is left in no doubt as to why the structure proceeds as it does.
Ambitious, perceptive, and offer interesting, even complex ideas. The discussion or presentation enhances, rather than just repeats, the reader’s and writer’s knowledge. The paper does not just rehash the readings, there is a context for all the ideas; someone from outside the class would be enriched, not confused, by reading the paper. The discussion or presentation enhances, rather than just repeats, the reader’s and writer’s knowledge. The paper does not just rehash the readings, there is a context for all the ideas; someone from outside the class would be enriched, not confused, by reading the paper.

You wrote a “B” Paper when …

Writing does not achieve the complexity or precision of an A essay but thoroughly achieves its aims. Ideas are solid and their organization is understandable, even if some patches require more analysis and/or synthesis. The language is generally clear and precise but occasionally not, with a mechanical error or two on every page. There may be too little structure or explanation of where the author is coming from. The context for the evidence may not be sufficiently explored, so that I have to make some of the connections that the writer should have made clear for me. This is a solid work whose presentation, execution and ideas may be well done but at times falls back on vaguer statement, or doesn’t follow lines of thought as far as possible.

You wrote a “C” Paper when …

The paper doesn’t move forward but rather repeats its main points, or it may touch upon many (not well related) ideas without exploring any of them in sufficient depth.
Punctuation, spelling, grammar, paragraphing, and transitions may be a problem, with errors on every page that get in the way of reading the content. The paper that is largely summary of the course material, or reiterates the text, but is written without major citations or in-depth analysis. The paper is chiefly a personal reaction to something which is poorly referred to or explained in such a way that it’s difficult to identify what the personal reaction is regarding. Well-written, but not as much intellectual content as needed—more opinion which is unconnected to the class. You gave some thought to but the paper has problems in one of these areas: conception (there’s at least one main idea but main ideas require more clarity); context (confusing); use of evidence (low or often absent—the connections among the ideas and the evidence are not made and/or are presented without sufficient reference to material from the course, or material proving empirical claims of fact, or add up to platitudes or generalizations): language (the sentences are often awkward, dependent on unexplained abstractions, sometimes contradict each other).

You wrote a “D” Paper or worse when …

Your efforts in this paper fall short of grappling more seriously with key ideas. The paper is extremely problematic in many of the areas: aims, structure, use of evidence, language, etc. The paper does not come close enough to addressing the expectations of the assignment, weekly assignments were not connected and the readings were not interrelated to major points. The paper is shorter than they ought to be to grapple seriously with ideas. The paper is extremely problematic in many of the areas mentioned above: aims, structure, use of evidence, language, etc. The paper doesn’t come close to addressing the expectations of the assignment, and really seems to reveal that the weekly assignments were not connected and the readings were never read.

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