Placement is open through Saturday, July 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Please contact dsherman [at] haverford.edu (Debora Sherman), Director of College Writing if you have any questions.
When writing the essay, please observe the following guidelines. Submit the essay, along with your seminar preferences, using the online form.
- Limit the length to approximately 750-1000 words.
- Be sure to include an essay title and your name in the text boxes provided for these in the online form. This will ensure that when your essay is printed out, it will be identified as yours; otherwise, the essay will appear to have no author or title.
- Compose the essay without any assistance, either from other people or from outside sources. You cannot use the internet or the library for research, nor can you use Chatbox or any other AI program to complete the essay. The use of these programs--with some exceptions depending upon a particular assignment and at a professor's discretion--can be seen as plagiarism and thus a violation of the Honor Code at Haverford. You are, however, permitted to use a dictionary (online or paper) for words which are unfamiliar to you. And you can use reference tools (online or otherwise) to identify names which you don’t recognize. Your best interests will be served only if the Writing Program can make an honest appraisal of how you write on your own. This will be your first opportunity to put Haverford’s Honor Code into practice.
Later this summer, you will receive a copy of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s How We Get Free; Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collection (2017) as part of Haverford’s Common Read 2023. There will be several discussions of this book after you arrive on campus, and the editor and author of the introduction, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Leon Forrest Professor of African Studies, Northwestern University, will speak to the larger college community on Oct. 3, 2023. For the placement essay, we are asking you to read the “Introduction” and the “Combahee River Collective Statement” and, drawing upon the evidence from these two first parts of the book, write a clear and well-organized essay of 750-1000 words responding to one of the following prompts:
- The Combahee River Statement identifies and advocates for “identity politics”, arguing against a more traditional political liberalism which assumes broadly-held common beliefs and practices as the basis for political engagement. Why is this an important issue? Do you agree or disagree with the argument for “identity politics”? Why or why not?
- The Combahee River Collective practiced what would later be characterized as “intersectionality” or how race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and nationality are not isolated but mutually reinforcing categories. Thus, they argue for a politics that is antiracist, antisexist, anticapitalist, anticolonialist, Marxist and socialist. Why is any one of these categories—from the first or second list—important? How does it shape political arguments? How does it engage any of the other categories? How do you see this kind of “intersectionality” informing our own current political practice?
You will need a footnote to the first reference to the text; for the second and subsequent references to the text, you can cite parenthetically by page number. OR: you can add a Works Cited at the end of your essay, and cite parenthetically by page number throughout your essay.
Accessing the Articles:
Dowload the “Introduction” and “Combahee River Collective Statement” (pdf)
When evaluating your essay, Writing Program faculty will draw upon the following criteria:
- Engagement and reasoning: How well do you demonstrate an understanding of the argument while still establishing and supporting your own position?
- Structure and style: Does the organization help or hinder readers? Is there enough control of particular sentences to allow us to follow your reasoning?
Any questions, please contact Prof. dsherman [at] haverford.edu (Debora Sherman), Director of College Writing.