Topical Text Assignment


This assignment requires students to find a short text (ie, magazine article, photo, letter, poem, play, picture book) in the Rose Library collections that relates to the central subject of study in the course theme. Students then write an argument about the significance of their selected text to the course theme, developing that argument through close readings of their text as well as reference to a touchstone secondary source. Students will need to visit the reading room to complete this assignment.

    After completing this assignment, students will be able to

    • conduct independent archival research
    • read library catalogue and finding aid information
    • practice appropriate care and handling of archival materials
    • use critical thinking and reading skills to make connections between what they discover in the archive and what they study in class
    • write a thesis driven argument

    In order to make the most of your time during your Rose Library Session, please be sure to prepare your students in advance.

    • Instructor should provide a clear goal of what students should expect to accomplish during the session
    • Instructor should help students understand how the work they do during the session relates to the assignment
    • Students should have a clear sense of what they need to know about an object to complete the assignment successfully
    • Instructor should communicate to students whether they will be allowed to write their assignment based on the materials used during the session.

    Here’s what you can expect during your class session

    • Recommended: a class visit by Rose Library staff to teach students how to locate and request appropriate materials in our collections through an interactive workshop session. We recommend scheduling this prior to the Rose Library session.
    • Rose Library session will be a group work session

    Students will produce a 6-7 page analytical research essay.

    Relevant collections will vary with course topics. Please consult with Rose Library staff to determine how our materials can best serve your course goals.

    To cite this page:

    Suhr-Sytsma, Mandy. "Topical Text Assignment," Rose Library Teaching with Archives Portal, [date of access],

    Please cite this portal and give credit to the creator when using this assignment.


    Dr Mandy Suhr-Sytsma
    Lecturer in the Deparment of English at Emory
    Director of the Emory Writing Center

    Used In
    ENG 389: The Figure of the Child in Multiethnic American Literature and Activism
    This writing-intensive course examines how writers use the child as a figure for promoting and challenging values and beliefs about race and citizenship.


    • most suitable for upper-level literature classes
    • could be adapted for history classes

    Highlighted Materials

    Course Materials
    Printable Assignment Sheet