List of Possible Prompts:
You may select one of these prompts for Essay 2. The sections covered for Essay 2 are The New American-ness, Romanticism, American Transcendentalism, and Slavery and the Civil War. A good starting point would be rereading “1820 to 1865” on pages 489-507 in the anthology.
1) Is “Thanatopsis” a mystical breakthrough in understanding death or is it an attempt to situate an American viewpoint among the “romantic ghosts” of a larger tradition?
2) Explain how any work of this time period is an example of an American Renaissance work.
3) Explain how a poem’s mood reinforces its theme.
4) Analyze how a literary work or works of this period attempted to chart a special relationship between the American character and the natural landscape inhabited.
5) A common theme of literature of this time period was to reject the status quo and use literature to argue for change. Which work is the greatest representation of this?
6) Many works of this time period experimented with form. Select a poem and discuss the change in form and the way the change reflected or influenced meaning.
7) Examine the use of paradox for any work of this time period.
8) Discuss the importance of imagery for a selected poem.
Essay 2 – An American Renaissance
Purpose of the assignment:
Please prepare an essay in response to one of the following questions. In developing your answer, please use a minimum of one primary text and two or three secondary texts written by different authors to support your argument. The key to the successful completion of this essay is to have a compelling thesis that unites your analysis of your chosen texts and provides insight into the complexity of the American Renaissance era. The American Renaissance covers Slavery and the Civil War, Romanticism, American Transcendentalism, and American Gothic. You are not limited to using the works discussed in class if you find something else in the anthology that you think is more appropriate.
Purpose of the paper:
Purpose: To produce a literary analysis of a significant text in American Literature
Audience: a community of academic scholars
Focus: Each paper must include substantial treatment of one of the texts we read as a class.
Evidence: minimum of one primary text and two or three secondary texts
Incorporate a thesis statement; your paper should have an identifiable thesis and be thesis-driven.
Title: All essays must have a TITLE. The title should reflect your thesis. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is not an appropriate title for a paper—it’s been taken! “The Function of the Narrator in ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’” is an appropriate title.
The introduction should mention the title of the work you are analyzing and the author’s name.
Minimum five paragraphs and 750-1000 words
A Works Cited page (does not contribute to the length requirement)
Final draft should be submitted in MLA Format with an original title; TNR or Arial, size 12, 1-inch margins, etc.
Additional Primary Sources: Each paper can make reference to 1 or 2 additional primary sources from the selections read in class.
Secondary Sources: Each paper must make reference to a minimum of two secondary sources you find on your own (use GALILEO). The sources should discuss some aspect(s) of any of the primary sources you use.
Source material should comprise no more than 10-15% of the essay.
Drafts: I’m delighted to work with you at any stage of the paper development before the paper is due; no conferences on the day the essay is due.
Specific Quotations and Close Readings: these should be at the center of every paragraph you write.
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