Interview Essay – Essaylink

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For a more detailed description of this assignment, see the pages right before this one. This is not the type of essay you can write in a marathon session; you have to plan ahead by conducting your interview two weeks before you begin writing and then transcribing your interview the week before you begin writing your essay. You’ll need to find at least 5 credible outside sources to place your interviewee’s life in a larger historical context. These sources should be related to each interview question and should be credible, historically based sources, not literature nor blogs/Wikipedia.

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This assignment involves peer review, so be prepared to participate in peer-reviewing several classmate’s essays the week before the essay is due. You will be assigned random peer review partners the morning after the peer-review assignment due date, and be sure to revise this final essay based on the peer-review feedback.


Here is a link to the interview research paper assignment promptPreview the document. Upload the final draft of your interview essay with your peer-review feedback incorporated into your essay.

Your essay should

  • be organized into 5 or 6 paragraphs, each focusing on something you learned during your interview. Since your interview questions are each about some historically relevant aspect of American life, you’ll have plenty of time to find sources before you actually begin writing your essay.
  • paraphrase your interviewee primarily; use direct quotes sparingly in your essay. For example, you might have one or two direct quotes from your interviewee. Remember that 90% or more of your essay should be your own words or paraphrases of sources.
  • incorporate at least 5 credible, outside sources to place your interviewee’s life in a larger context. Focus on credible sources that were created by experts, and find a range of sources (non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, academic journals, reputable websites, etc.). Steer clear of Wikipedia, blogs, or other sites that cannot be verified as credible. Don’t use BTWAM as one of your sources since Ta-Nehisi Coates is not an historian.
    • When you introduce outside sources, remember the three steps of citation: Introduce your citation before you cite. Tell the reader who the person is. This adds credibility to your citation. Cite. After citation, comment connecting the citation to your essay. This is an area a lot of us need to work on. Please remember to do this.
  • incorporate the larger social historical context of your interviewee’s life as part of your essay. It should flow naturally with the rest of the content. You need to make connections between your research and your interview findings. Your research can serve as background information, comparison, or support of your interview. The key is integration. What you have found through research should enhance and strengthen your essay.


  • Format your paper in MLA (12 point  font, works cited page, etc.). Here’s a link to a sample MLA formatted essay (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. available on the Purdue owl website
  • Your final draft should be approximately 3.5 – 5 full pages (800-1350 words)
  • You must have 5 credible outside sources. Use a range of sources such as non-fiction books, magazines, credible websites, journals, etc.
  • (no blogs, no Wikipedia, no literature like BTWAM nor poems – no fiction).
  • PDF  .doc or .docx files are accepted. Other file formats such as Pages are not supported by Canvas, so you won’t receive credit for submitting an essay until you resubmit your paper using one of the first three file formats.
  • GoogleDoc users: it’s possible to download and save a GoogleDoc as a MS Word document (.doc or .docx). To do this, open up the file you want to convert, go to File>Download as>Microsoft Word (.docx). You also have the option of saving your document as a PDF. Save the file to your computer (Be sure to name your document using the following format LastNameAssignment), then you can just upload it as a docx file. There is a caveat: while this works, sometimes formatting gets messed up. Be sure to fix any formatting issues prior to uploading the file.

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