American Literature Essay

Your essays should be in MLA Style and approximately 950-1,200 words, not including the Work(s) Cited page. Include two separate direct quotes or lines from your literary selection in order to better illustrate and support your argument, along with citations and a list of works cited. As with most academic writing, this essay should be written in third person. Please avoid both first person (I, we, our, etc.) and second person (you, your). 

For your final essay, you should choose one of the following options:

· Compare or contrast some of the poems from this week’s readings or the poet you selected for part 1 of the week 7 forum. You may compare poems from a single poet, or compare poems across poets. Have a debatable, persuasive claim and focus on specific points of comparison, using the Lesson in week 7 to guide your structure.

  • Poems include:

§ John Grisham: “Somewhere for Everyone”

§ Sharon Olds “First Thanksgiving” 

                                “Still Life in Landscape” 

                                “After Making Love in Winter”

                               “The Planned Child”

§ Linda Pastan “A Rainy Country”

                                 “I am Learning to Abandon the World”

                                 “The Obligation to Be Happy”

                                 “Why Are Your Poems so Dark?”

§  Larry Levis: “Signs” 

                               “To a Wren on Calvary” 

                              “Winter Stars” 

 
Note: Please read! When writing a comparison you are arguing that the two pieces are mostly similar, and when writing a contrast, you are arguing that they are mostly different. Be sure that you have isolated a strong and debatable thesis on which to build the essay. Simply pointing out the similarities or differences is not analysis, and essays that do this will not earn a passing grade. Instead, argue that they are mostly similar or mostly different in order to prove some bigger point. For example, you might say that both stories are good examples of Modernism, and then state the reasons why.

· View the list of American Essayists. Select an essayist who wrote after the Civil War (note, the list includes some pre-Civil War essayists. Do not select a pre-Civil War essayist). Search the internet for an essay by your selected author and read it. Compose a thesis that has a persuasive, debatable claim about the significance of the message or theme in the essay or the success/effectiveness of the essay as a whole. Summarize the essay in your intro paragraph, end the paragraph with your thesis, and be sure to include your three points of evidence in your thesis statement. Cite the essay as you would any article on the internet as you examine your points of evidence.
 

Note: Make sure your chosen work is an ESSAY, which is a short non-fiction piece arguing a particular point of view usually about a controversial topic. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech qualifies. And E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”, for example, does not qualify since this is a children’s fiction tale; neither does John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, which is fiction (both a novel and a film based on the novel). If you have any question about your choice, please email me for clarification.
 

· Discuss the literary work(s) of one author from this course that you believe had the most significant influence on American literary history. Please be sure to maintain third person  perspective and focus your discussion on the literature, including several direct quotes from the literary work you are discussing (be mindful not to write a literature review, which merely offers an overview or summary of each of the author’s works, or worse, a book report about the author’s life).

Please Note:
Should you choose to use outside references for prompt one or two, these must be scholarly, peer-reviewed sources obtained via the APUS library (select Advanced Search and check the Peer Reviewed box). Reliable open web sources may be used for prompt three. Be careful that you don’t create a “cut and paste” paper of information from your various sources. Your ideas are to be new and freshly constructed. Also, take great care not to plagiarize.

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