Module Essay: Breaking Free from Single Stories

Overview: In Chimamanda Adichie’s TEDTalk, she discusses the dangers of stereotypes and what she calls “single stories” that are perpetuated about groups of people. Mariam Thalos discusses the connection between identity and freedom and claims that freedom is the result of self-conceptual acts that often defy social norms and oppressive systems. Nicolas Geeraert points out that the origins of psychology focus primarily on Western culture, and calls for a cross-cultural approach that examines the effects of culture on the shaping of our mental processes. Annie Paul writes about unconscious bias and explains why people create stereotypes. Claude Steele discusses the term “stereotype threat” which affects individuals who are members of stereotyped groups and cultures.


  1. Compose a thesis in response to the essential questions:Narrow your topic, and then reflect on the following questions:
  • What is the impact of an individual’s culture and identity on their position in society?
  • Does freedom exist for all cultures and identities, or is it limited for some?
  • Consider the cultural factors that affect a group’s freedom (race, gender, socio-economic class, religion, sexuality, ability, age, etc.) Which cultures/groups are free, and which are inhibited?
  • How do “single stories”, stereotypes, and stereotype threat affect our freedom?
  • How does unconscious bias affect our perceptions of groups that are different from us?
  • What single stories have been told about you? What single stories have you told about others? What are the lasting effects of the single stories?
  • What can we do to actively overcome “single stories” and stereotype threat in ourselves, and others?
  1. Support your argument in the body paragraphs.
  • Summarize and cite key definitions (single stories, stereotype threat, unconscious bias, etc.)
  • Incorporate at least three sources from the module to support your argument
  • Incorporate at least two additional sources from your independent research (CCBC Library Database or other credible site)
  • Include at least one example of a “single story” that was told about you, or that you told/heard about another individual or group.

Audience: Write for an audience that is not in this class. That means you’ll need to spend some time summarizing key ideas, defining any terms that might be unfamiliar, choosing short quotes from the reading selections to help your reader get a sense of the authors’ arguments.

Length: 3-4 pages (750-1000) words


  • Include an original title (not “Module Two Essay” or “Identity Essay”)
  • Use MLA Style to format your essay
  • Compose a thesis statement that highlights your stance on the essential questions
  • Organize the essay so that each body paragraph is providing support for your thesis
  • Source requirements:Cite all sources using MLA style in-text citations
    • Integrate at least three sources
    • Research and integrate at least two additional sources (CCBC Library Database or other credible source)
    • Include at least one example of a “single story” that was told about you, or that you told/heard about another individual or group.
  • Include an MLA style Works Cited page at the end of the essay (not included in 3-4 pages of text)


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