We’ve read several writers who use autobiography, history, and the non-fiction essay to present what are in effect models of identity. DuBois’s use of metaphor (the veil and the song); Washington’s assertion that economic and political life can be separated from social and cultural forces; Zitkala-Sa’s reversal of theories of American exceptionalism; Roosevelt, and Turner, Kallen and Chesnutt or Addams: each of these writers has articulated a theory for thinking about ethnic or racial or “American” identity.
Choose one, or two if you want to compare. You could analyze the author’s implied model for thinking about ethnic or racial identity. You could talk about how the author understands terms like equality or opportunity or difference or America. You could look at the rhetorical strategies the author uses to get his or her point across. You could discuss the genre of the autobiography and how the author uses that to write the story of the nation’s life as well as his or her own.