Module overview

By the end of this module, you will:
– become familiar with Michelle Alexander’s arguments about the “New Jim Crow”.
– have a basic working knowledge of fundamental political concepts, such as: race, state, power, ideology, and how they intersect in everyday life
– Identify key ideas across several readings and assigned materials
– have practiced text annotation of the assigned reading
– critically analyze assigned text and video material


Assignments will always be due on the Sunday following the week they were assigned, (unless otherwise specified) at 11:59pm. Discussion Board posts are always be due by Thursday, 11:59pm for each given week, unless otherwise noted. Read the description, then click on the title of the assignment to open it. You can navigate back to this page by using the navigation buttons at the top of the page, or by clicking the back button on your web browser.

Lesson 2.1: Close Reading and Annotation

Close reading is a SLOW, thoughtful, critical reading of a text that you want to understand well (this means, to understand some writing in all of its layers; to be able to explain to someone else what the reading was about, and to make your own judgements about it (do you agree with it, do you find problems with it, are there parts that you don’t understand, does it inspire you, or piss you off, etc.). To achieve such understanding, of the text, we have to understand the form of the text (how it is put together), its meanings, style. In other words, we have to annotate the text that we’re reading. To get you started, complete the following readings and assignments in order, from top to bottom.

WATCH – Intro video

Begin this module by watching this video I made, which will give an overview of the material in this module, as well as contain important points related to what we’re studying here:

WATCH – What is close reading?

Watch the following video, which explores what close-reading is all about. You will be asked about the strategies when completing upcoming assignments:
EST Time: 7 minutes

READ – How to do a close reading

The process of learning the material in our class will always begin by reading texts of some sort. When we close-read a text, read SLOWLY (and more than once), trying to hold on to details, specific facts and arguments made by the author(s). Later in this module you will practice close reading of your own and asked to use strategies from the linked web site. Watch this video for nice overview on some suggestion on how to do a close-reading:
EST Time: 10 minutes

WATCH – How to annotate a reading

Text annotation is a crucial part of close reading. Watch the following video, which models one way of annotating texts. Pay attention to the techniques described in the video, because in the last part of this lesson, you will be annotating your first reading in this course:
EST Time: 4 minutes

Lesson 2.2: Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”

In this lesson, we will begin our study of American politics by analyzing Michelle Alexander’s key arguments from her influential book The New Jim Crow. Again, I’d like to remind you to do the lesson by going all of the assignments in-order, chronologically, from top to bottom.

WATCH – Video Intro – Part 1

In this video, I give a general intro to the M. Alexander readings, while focusing on the first reading:

READ – Reading 2.1 – M. Alexander, “The New Jim Crow” – Part 1

COMPLETE – Self-assessment quiz #1

Let’s re-read the excerpt that you annotated in Lesson 1. This time, after you read the text, press the button below and take the self-assessment to review your understanding of M. Alexander’s basic arguments made in that excerpt:

WATCH – Video overview – part 2

READ (and don’t forget to annotation as you are reading) – Reading 2.2 – M. Alexander, “The New Jim crow” – Part 2

After reading and annotating the excerpt, take the self-assessment quiz:

COMPLETE – Self-assessment quiz #2

COMPLETE – Discussion Board 2 – on the New Jim Crow

Let’s head over to the discussion boards:

And here’s part two of Discussion Board 2:

WRITE and UPLOAD – Response Paper 2

Answer the following question in your Response Paper for Module 2:

  1. What surprised your about the arguments M. Alexander is making?

WRITE – Response Paper for Module 2

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WATCH – Module 2 summary video

In this video, I summarize some of the key points I’d like to emphasize in the material covered in Module 2. This is a very useful video to watch when preparing for the exam: