Born a Crime

This semester, we are reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, his memoir of growing up mixed-race (a literal crime) in South Africa during apartheid and its aftermath. The book itself is a cultural artifact—it exemplifies much of his and our cultural values, which is why he so often references popular culture (in both South Africa and the United States). His humor, especially, is tied to cultural and language references.

Your task is to choose a cultural artifact (a book you’ve already read, a TV show or movie you watch/have watched, a work of art you admire, etc…choose something that has real significance to you and that truly engages you). The main themes in Noah’s book relate to race, gender, and class. Select ONE of these themes and apply it to the cultural artifact you have selected. Examine this artifact through the lens of that theme, like Noah does. Like Noah, explore the ways in which racism, sexism, OR classism (only one, not all three!) are revealed/explored/critiqued in your artifact. Include specific, concrete examples from that source.

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You may want to seek outside support for this assignment, as dates of events, important names, and statistical data may be necessary. Remember that in this class, for all formal writing, you must follow proper MLA citation guidelines. You’ll need to use proper quoting, paraphrasing, and in-text citation, in addition to a properly-formatted Works Cited page at the end of the essay (more MLA details will be coming soon, so do your best with the information you have). Also keep in mind that no more than 20% of your text should come from outside information, so be careful not to lose your voice in all the information/evidence.



You will decide how many body paragraphs you need to support your claims, but each body should have a clear topic sentence and detailed support (remember your FRIENDs). Be as specific as possible and consider the significance of the language you use, especially. I’m looking for a clear thesis in your introduction, as well as a conclusion that leaves your reader thinking (that “So what?”). Even better would be a creative title that echoes your main ideas. After you submit this essay once for a grade (not a “shitty first draft” but a second or third), you will have the opportunity to consider my feedback and re-submit for an adjusted score.

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