Final Book Review on Assata: An Autobiography

The final for the course is a book review, which must be approximately 5 to 7 double spaced, typewritten pages in Times New Roman 12-point font. Students will review Assata Shakur’s Assata: An Autobiography. Due to the nature and structure of the book, you will read both “forewords” by Angela Davis and Lennox Hinds, these serve as the “introduction” to the book and the “postscript” will serve as the conclusion. I’m making adjustments from the syllabus, so please adhere to these new guidelines as you write your book review. In addition to reviewing the “forewords” and the “postscript,” you will select 5 to 7 chapters to review. I highly suggest reading as much of the book as you can, as it will give you a fuller context to write your final paper.

As I mentioned in the lecture, the chapters are short. So please, pay close attention to the chapters you select as the narrative thread throughout Assata’s autobiography, which starts with her incarceration and then every other chapter engages her childhood, growing up in the south and the north during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. Assata: An Autobiography is a historical text and a primary resource, she artfully lays a out a history of the Black Panther Party, the experience of Black and Brown people in gendered regimes of incarceration in the 1970s (particularly in her account of prison/police violence and persecution in the U.S. legal system/the prison industrial complex, and she offers a critical analysis of U.S. education, schooling, and the dominant narratives of U.S. history alongside the racialized and gendered dynamics of the workplace, neighborhoods, and social institutions. Every other chapter addresses either her struggle for freedom (the chapters discussing “k”ourt trials and/or incarceration) or her struggle for critical consciousness (her coming of age and developing an understanding of the world she is living in). In a sense, Assata’s structure juxtaposes a narrative of Incarceration, focusing on the years 1973-1987, with a narrative of Education, focusing on the years 1947-1977—what we might call a “struggle for freedom” set against a “struggle for critical consciousness,” though of course the two struggles are deeply interrelated. Students may also want to reflect on the use of poetry framing or interrupting the movement of her narrative. Reflect deeply on the importance of writing and reading in Assata’s narrative, and what it enables her to do while she is incarcerated, how she is able to draw our attention to the ways in which Africana women’s thought, action, and modalities of resistance offer new paradigms for thinking past dominant racialized, gendered, classed constructions of what it means to be human.

Students must include proper citations within the text of their review using footnotes and include a bibliography. Students must use the Chicago Manual of Style for citations. Further instructions and guidance were provided in Week 13’s lecture, please return to this lecture for clarity. Also use the handout “Tips for Writing a Book Review” on how to successfully execute the review which is posted in “Course Handouts” on Canvas. The book review is due Monday November 30th by 11:59pm. All students must submit an electronic copy of their book reviews to Canvas through turnitin.

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