Analytical Essays



You will complete a three to five page essay.  In this essay, you will write about a historical person or event in African American history that is portrayed in a Hollywood film (no documentaries please). Students should use primary (at least two) and secondary sources (at least three) to determine the accuracy of the film. For example, the film Harriet was released in 2019. You will view the film and do your own research on Harriet Tubman. In your essay, you should provide a clear and concise history of the life of Harriet Tubman based on primary and secondary sources. Then, you will critique the film pointing out any inaccuracy between the film and the historical record. To garner the highest possible score on this essay, you must draft a clear thesis statement in the introduction, and you must substantiate that thesis by referencing and analyzing specific information and ideas from primary and secondary sources. In other words, it will not be enough to simply type, “I think that….” You will have to denote specific details from your sources and explicitly cite the book pages, speeches, documentaries, and/or other sources you will be using to argue why your thesis is correct.  (See additional writing tips below) 

Citation Guidelines for Analytical Essays

When researching and writing the Analytical Essay for this class you are required to use and to specifically cite at least 5 sources.  Moreover, at least 2 of these sources must be primary sources (see definitions below). 

Include a bibliography or a works cited page (but that page does not count toward your 4-5, or 5-6 page requirement);

Use the MLA style for your paper.

Primary Sources

are immediate, first-hand accounts of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it. Primary sources can include:

Texts of laws and other original documents.

Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did.

Speeches, diaries, letters and interviews – what the people involved said or wrote.

Original research.

Datasets, survey data, such as census or economic statistics

Secondary Sources

are one step removed from primary sources, though they often quote or otherwise use primary sources. They can cover the same topic, but add a layer of interpretation and analysis. 

Secondary sources can include:

Most books about a topic.

Analysis or interpretation of data.

Scholarly or other articles about a topic, especially by people not directly involved.

Documentaries (though they often include photos or video portions that can be considered primary sources).