Immigration/transcendentalism (social reform)/Politics and the American dream

English 231, American Literature I


Select one or two works written by one or two authors in either Volume A or B of your textbook.  Design your own original persuasive thesis based on your interpretation of the work(s) you’ve chosen.  In your essay, please be sure to include direct quotations from both primary and secondary sources for support, and maintain a formal and academic tone throughout.

Purposes: 1) to guide your audience to a place of deeper understanding of your literary work(s) as a whole; 2) to show why the work(s) still matter and have relevance in the 21st century and beyond

Audience: Students (peers) who have read your literary work(s) but need help with interpretation, context, and understanding contemporary relevance

Requirements for final essay: 6-8 MLA formatted content pages plus Works Cited page with 1-2 primary source(s) and 4 secondary sources, at least 3 of which must be scholarly/ professional (note that the sources need not all be directly supportive of your thesis; you may opt to refute them or take a “review of scholarship” approach)

Feel free to email a draft to your instructor prior to final submission. When you are ready to submit the final version, please do so in Moodle (see link in “Assignments”). 

(Annotated Bibliography and Capstone Presentation components: see separate assignments)

   Brainstorming ideas:

1) Trace a thread through the various periods of early American Literature (identity, independence, nature, land, religion, cultural conflict, war, immigration, heroes and outsiders, the role of women, American Dream, etc.). Discuss ways in which several different authors handled the threads similarly and/or differently. Incorporate critical voices (secondary sources) as well for support.


2) Place your work of literature in the context of a particular “–ism.” Explain how the work features tenets of that “-ism” and why it is especially representative and significant. Incorporate critical voices (secondary sources) as well for support. Example: Transcendentalism

3) Compare a work of American Romanticism with one of its British counterparts (British Romantic writers: William Blake, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, etc.). Explain which work or style, in your mind, is more effective, engaging, and/or far-reaching and why. Incorporate secondary sources for support.

4) Examine the Native American literary voice/ perspective in a specific context. Compare and connect these voices. Incorporate secondary sources for support.

5) Design a thesis that is inspired by one or two of the Critical Approaches. See Moodle for a list of approaches and definitions. Examples: Formalism, Gender Studies, Marxist/ Economic Determinism, Psychological, Cultural Studies, etc.




Suggestion:  Submit your work to the Writing Center soon!  Those who work there, mostly A-B Tech English instructors and student peer tutors, are available to help you during any stage of this process from thesis creation/ brainstorming to drafting to making final revisions.

English 231, American Literature I

Capstone Presentation Assignment

You will present your Writing Project 3 (Researched Literary Analysis essay) to the class at semester’s end.  See syllabus/ course outline for the submission deadline.

In the Discussion Forum at the bottom of Moodle, you will compose and submit an attachment in which you:

1) present the thesis and main points of your paper;

2) synthesize a few of your secondary sources by comparing and contrasting them.

Your presentation must also include some sort ofvisual component.

Please view your classmates’ presentations and post 1-2 responses to their work in the Forum.

Suggestion: Design your presentation in Prezi or PowerPoint so as to include visuals, then upload the slides in the Discussion Forum.  About 7-8 slides would be ideal.

READ ALSO :   What words or phrases appeal to you or seem especially significant in The Road Not Taken?