Paper #1


For this paper, you are to read the book Locking up our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Foreman Jr., and, using your sociological imagination, critically analyze its themes in a 4-5 page paper. More specifically, you are to use the combination of biography, society, and history to deconstruct the war on drugs and mass incarceration in the United States. Also, using the book as your guide, you are to discuss the ways in which, both, the Ahistorical Fallacy and the Individualistic Fallacy complicate our collective understanding of race, crime, and punishment in the contemporary United States. Your paper should consist of a summary of the book, as well as a sociological analysis of the various themes presented throughout. Extra points will be rewarded to those who can successfully connect Locking up our Own to the film on White Boy Rick in a substantive manner. Explicit thematic examples are required in order to receive extra points. Papers must be double-spaced with 12-pt Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins.


Assignment Objectives:

  • Demonstrate reading comprehension and writing proficiency at the university level.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of, and be able to apply, the sociological imagination.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of, and be able to apply, the ahistorical and individualistic fallacies.
  • Demonstrate your ability to extract and think critically about sociological concepts in the real world.
  • Demonstrate your ability to understand, summarize, and analyze a piece of academic literature.

Assignment Grading Rubric

  1. Introduction
    1. Your introduction should introduce your reader to the topic of your paper. In your introduction, you should include the title and author of the book you are analyzing, as well as a thesis statement which clearly articulates the main points of your critical analysis.
    2. HINT: Many people find it easier to write the introduction last – after they have written the rest of the paper.
  2. Critical Analysis
    1. You should pull at least 2-3 points/themes from your book that you can relate to class material and/or class discussion. This is when you address the specific requirements listed above.
      1. If you were summarizing this book to someone who has never read it, what would you say? These are your themes.
    2. You should do more than simply state the themes that you recognized from the book – you have to analyze them using the sociological imagination, and directly connect them to the ahistorical fallacy and the individualistic fallacy.
  • Conclusion
    1. Your conclusion should re-state the main points of your paper, and include your final thoughts about the topic(s) discussed. I want to hear your voice.
  1. Works Cited
    1. You need to include references for any thoughts/ideas that are not your own. This includes citations for the book you read, any other reading materials you use in your writing, and even the class lectures themselves. It includes both internal citations and a Works Cited page.
      1. Any time you use a direct quotation, you need to include an internal citation with the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number. It looks like this: “This is a direct quotation” (Bell, 2018: 35).
      2. Any time you paraphrase, you need to include an internal citation with the author’s name and year of publication. A citation for a paraphrase would look like this (Bell, 2018). Works cited page should adhere to APA format.
  1. Failure to properly cite can result in a failing grade on this assignment. PLEASE feel free to come and see me before the paper is due if you have any questions about citations.




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