I was talking on Facebook today about this assignment, one I use across courses, but especially at the start of courses where we as a class are trying to define contested terms. The term “Chicana/o,” for example, has been defined a number of ways without having any one definitive meaning.
Here’s an example of it in action. Last Spring, when I taught a course on the Chicana/o Gothic, I asked my students to crowdsource definitions of Chicana/o and gothic the first week of classes. To do this, the students can search any sources, on or offline, to come up with the definition, citing their source. The catch is that each source can appear only once. If a previous student has used a source, they have to find another one. When we meet in class, these definitions become the basis for discussion and understanding how these terms are contested and what definitions would be most useful for us individually and collectively.
Image Credit: David Ludwig