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Length: 2 full pages (1” margins, 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced)


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Length: 2 full pages (1” margins, 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced)
Format: Letter (to one or more middle-school students)
Source: Pratt
Mary Louise Pratt’s speech presents some of her thoughts on writing and literacy. In that exploration, she introduces and defines three key terms—each of which will play a major role in our semester together: contact zones, autoethnography, and transculturation. She defines each term and then provides some detailed examples for each. Here, for example, is her initial definition of a “contact zone”:
I use this term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in con texts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today. (34)
Pratt then goes on to explore how Guaman Poma’s text grew out of his having lived in a contact zone, how language and literacy are rooted in contact zones, and how educational experiences can be fruitfully structured in contact zones. In other words, Pratt expands her scope beyond a 17th-century letter and finds ways to make her ideas relevant to her current time.
To continue that movement towards relevance, your assignment is twofold: first, to locate and understand Pratt’s central claims about each of these three terms, and, second, to make those ideas both understandable and useful for one or more middle school students. You will ultimately write a letter to your specific chosen audience, summarizing Pratt’s argument(s), concepts, and contents for them so that they could use the three terms on their own. In order to do this well, you will need to not only summarize Pratt’s article in your own words—extensive quotations will not be helpful for this project because of the reading capabilities of your letter’s audience—but also appeal to your readers’ sense of logic and/or emotion—to make them care about the project in the first place.


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