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AFAM 401: Narratives of Race

Assignment #1

Define race using these guiding questions.

  • What is the concept?
  • What is its etymology?
  • Origins?
  • Usage?
  • Signal figures?
  • Texts?
  • Contexts?
  • Academic Disciplines Involved?

Definitions must account for scope and content

  • Explore the issue of scope; how wide a net does this definition cast?
  • Explore the issue of content; what does this definition include/exclude?


  • Six to seven pages double-spaced.
  • Titled reference page.
  • First page must present identification information.
  • A minimum of five sources.  At least two must be from our course readings. 
  • For citation and references use MLA, Chicago, or APA style–use one consistently.
  • Basic essay format introduction, thesis, body, conclusion.

Oxford African American Studies Center

Search Oxford AASC

Type keywords in the search box to find information in the Oxford African American Studies Center. This source incluldes the full text of the following reference works: Africana, Encyclopedia of African American History, Black Women in America, African American National Biography, and other key works.

Limited to three simultaneous users.

For off campus access, click here

Subject Encyclopedias

Use these sources as background material for your definition essay about race. They can be helpful starting points for context, concepts, signal figures, origins, and academic disciplines invovled. Titles with call numbers are found in the reference stacks on the main floor, near the Learning Commons.

Sage Reference Online Tip: For best results, do an "advanced search." Change the search field from "full text" to "title."
Gale Virtual Reference Library Tip: For best results, do an advanced search. Change the search field to title.

Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from those of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find these in the OED, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to films scripts and cookery books.

Oxford Reference Online

Search the Catalog

Use Primo to find resources on your topic at Collins Library and beyond. Request books held by Summit libraries for delivery to Collins Library in about 5 days. Books can also be requested from non-Summit libraries -- via Interlibrary loan -- if needed, for delivery in about 12 days.


  • When you find an item that seems relevant, look at its subject terms to find similar items. To do this, simply click on one of the subject headings listed in the record for the book; the next screen will list all the books that share this subject term.
  • To find the library location of a book's call number, check the location chart.