Capstone Essay: Topic and Guidelines

Capstone Essay: Topic and Guidelines 

Based on The Injustice Never Leaves You by Monica Muñoz Martinez, answer the following questions in a three-page typed essay:

In your opinion, from the first three chapters what was the most heartbreaking story (Rodri­guez lynching, Bazán and Longoria murders, or Porvenir Massacre)? Focus on explaining why. From Chapter 6 discuss the challenges Monica Muñoz Martinez and other historians faced in launching the temporary exhibit "Life and Death on the Border 1910–1920" at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Finally, as a public historian what strategy and methods would you use to tell the public an accurate history of the violence Mexicans and Mexican Americans faced during the early twentieth century in Texas? Explain your answer.

To see more of what the "Life and Death on the Border 1910–1920" exhibit from 2016 consisted of go to https://www.thestoryoftexas.com/visit/exhibits/life-and-death-on-the-border-1910-1920. On this page scroll to the bottom to see photos from the exhibit.

No other sources are to be used other than Martinez' book and the exhibit web page. Essay is due April 18.

Essay Guidelines 

1. You have done your reading, so now organize your notes and make an outline. Do not feel obligated to use all of your notes. Eliminate extraneous material from your essay. If you are organized with your notes, then the paper itself will be organized.

2. Essay should contain three parts.

Introduction: This is the first paragraph where you give a short overview of your essay and questions (ones above) you will address.
Body: These are the paragraphs in the middle of the essay and where you develop your analysis.
Conclusion: At the end of the essay, you briefly sum up your analysis.

3. Footnotes are not necessary, but if you directly quote from The Injustice Never Leaves You, you need to give proper attribution. Even if you only use part of the author's sentence, you still need proper attribution. In other words, use quote marks and give the author' name and page number in parenthesis. Examples:

  • "Without conducting interviews, the Rangers proceeded to execute their fifteen prisoners, who ranged in age from sixteen to sixty-four years old" (Martinez 12).
  •  The Porvenir massacre resulted in the Rangers killing fifteen people, "who ranged in age from sixteen to sixty-four years old" (Martinez 122).

Notice that the period only goes after the second parenthesis for a cited quote.

4. Avoid lengthy quotes and keep your use of quotes to a minimum. Try not to use more than five. So, it is best to paraphrase (put the essay into your own words). When you are paraphrasing, you do not need to attribute (list a page number). For paraphrasing make sure you are putting the content into your own words. If you do not properly cite or if you use material from non-assigned sources including the Internet, it will be plagiarism and result in a 0 for the assignment and "F" for the semester. Only the assigned readings are to be used as sources. See the syllabus section on "Academic Integrity" for more details. 

5. When writing, use the active voice rather than passive voice. Examples:
Passive – The website was created by Hernán Contreras.
Active – Hernán Contreras created the website.
In active voice, the subject is doing the action and does not need a form of the verb to be (is, was, are, were). Active voice is stronger and more concise writing. You want to use strong and forceful verbs.

Limit prepositional phrases, adverbs, and adjectives. With your writing, strive for clarity and conciseness. You may use the first person for this essay but avoid using the second person (you) for a formal essay. Use the past tense since you are writing about history, events in the past.

6. Some common mistakes: When referring to a decade or century, it does not take an apostrophe. For example it is 1900s and 1910s not 1900’s and 1910’s. It is the twentieth century not 20th century. The past tense of the verb “lead” is led not lead. Their and its show possession not there and it’s.

7. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy. If your computer has spell and grammar checks, use them. But be careful with the computer checks because they often miss obvious errors.

8. Students will be graded not only on their answers, but also how their essay is written, presented and organized. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization will be part of the grade, too.

9. The minimum length of each paper is a full three pages with one-inch margins and double-spacing. The font should be no bigger than 12 point, legible and in black ink. Please avoid fancy script fonts because they are difficult to read.

10. Book titles are italicized. If you do not mention, the author and book title in your paper, then you must list it at the end as your source. 

11. Paragraphs are indented and do not skip extra lines between paragraphs.

12. Write several drafts of your essay. Don't be afraid to have someone else edit it. Your professor will read early drafts and make comments up to four days before it is due.

13. The file should be either Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or saved as an RTF or PDF. (Do not send .wps, .gdoc and pages files.) Put your name as the file name. For example, if your name was Jane Nguyen, you would do the following: Janenguyenessay.doc. Also make sure your name is on the first page of the essay. If you do not follow directions with any of these items in number 12, points will be deducted. Submit your essay as an attachment through the Capstone Essay Dropbox in the Instructions for Coursework module by the end of the day on April 18. The Dropbox is also under Course Activities > Assignments.

14. No late papers will be accepted.