24.912 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies


At each class meeting one or more students (depending on class size) will be responsible for preparing a brief (10-minute maximum) presentation on the readings, consisting of a background that will frame our discussion with one or more (one question per student) about how the readings assigned for that particular day approach the main questions at the core of our class. The students’ questions will be e-mailed in advance to the instructors by 8PM the evening before the corresponding class. At the end of each class and time permitting, the same student(s) who did the opening presentation will give a very short (two minute) synopsis/synthesis of the class discussion, highlighting whether and how it addressed the questions raised at the beginning of that day’s session. You will be given guidance on how to prepare these presentations.

You will be required to write 3 essays this semester and 1 revision essay, which will be equivalent to a fourth essay. All essays will necessitate close reading of texts — with, in some cases, special attention to language related issues.

Essay 1 Guidelines (PDF)

Essay 2 Guidelines (PDF)

Essay 3 Guidelines (PDF)


ActivitIES percentage
Oral Presentations 15%
Essay 1 (Due session 8) 15%
Essay 2 (Due session 13) 20%
Essay 3 (Due session 20) 20%
Essay Revision (Due session 24) 20%
Attendance and participation 10%

Lateness policy: Essays submitted late will incur a 5-point penalty per day late.

Rubric for grading essays

componentS points


Does the essay have a clear central thesis with a clear introduction providing a road map to the reader?



Does the essay have a clear overall structure? Are arguments and evidence logically sequenced and organized hierarchically? Is each paragraph in the body of the essay organized around a main idea? Are connections drawn among the key points?


Content & use of evidence:

Does the introduction provide adequate background about the topic and teh related controversies? Are your arguments well developed, with evidence from all the source materials, including class readings and discussions, personal observations and experience? Are counterarguments considered? Does the conclusion draw the essay to a close, highlighting the central points in your argument? Are sources properly cited?



Are ideas and information articulated in clear, fluent prose?



Is the essay free of grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors?

Total: 100
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Presentation Assignments with Examples
Lecture Videos
Instructor Insights