2,500 – 3,000 words
Required for all papers:
1) Significant engagement with at least two primary texts covered in class.
2) Significant use of at least FIVE secondary sources: critical or historical commentary about the primary source(s)/author(s).
3) MLA format and MLA documentation, especially for secondary sources.
Topic: Choose ONE of these 4 prompts.
Prompt 1: It may be possible to sort major 19th century American writers into two groups: those who advance particular doctrines and systems of thought, and those who question or critique those doctrines or who suspect any systematic or totalizing view of the world. Write a paper that contrasts two authors who belong to these contrasting trends and examine the major differences in perspectives by bringing examples from their literary works. Examples of these two types are Emerson’s essays and Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener.”
Prompt 2: Write a paper analyzing Thoreau applied Emerson’s ideas about transcendentalism in his famous work Walden? What does Thoreau build on Emerson’s ideas? Does Thoreau depart from Emerson or does echo his same idea? Use at least one work from each author,
Prompt 3: Both Whitman and Dickinson are considered pioneers of modern American verse. The variations and departures of these two poets are to be found not only in their substance, but also in their literary forms and in their astonishing use of language. Write a paper in which you discuss the similarities and differences between these two important American poets in terms of style, themes, diction, and imagery. Discuss at least two poems from each other to consolidate your arguments.
Prompt 4: Kate Chopin and Stephen Crane are two American authors who write under the umbrella of realism. How does their realism differ? How is it similar? Write a paper defining the concept of realism in American fiction highlighting its distinctive features, then apply that concept to the works of Crane and Chopin that we studied in class.
STANDARDS FOR WRITING Essays must follow MLA Style. The following MLA Style guidelines should be adhered to: 1. Typed 2. Double Spaced 3. One-Inch Margins 4. Complete Heading in the Upper Left Corner: (Your Name, Class Name and Section #, My Name, Date—in that order) 5. Your Last Name and Page Number (without a comma) in the upper right-hand corner of all pages. Use header/footer for this. Do not simply type it in. 6. Original Title Top, Center (should be related to the thesis)—No cover pages. That is not MLA. 7. Works Cited Page.
NOTE: Your paper should be free from errors: grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, syntax, etc. If you know that you might have trouble with this, please seek help from the writing center.
Definitely Don’t Do This! Do not cite Wikipedia, Spark Notes, eNotes, Cliff’s Notes, Shmoop, Book Rags, or any other study aids in your essays. Also, do not use any material from “essay mills.” Your essays will be checked for plagiarism.
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