Essay Topics: Select One
1. Explain, with reference to one or more of their poems, how Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson exemplifies the Romantic movement in American literature. Feel free to consider poems outside of our textbook.
2. Examine an image or symbol in a single Dickinson or Whitman poem, explaining how it functions in contributing to the poem’s overall meaning.
3. In “How to Tell a Story,” Twain distinguishes between a humorous story and a comic story. In your opinion, does he practice what he preaches in the excerpt from Roughing It? Explain.
4. Discuss how Sarah Orne Jewett or Charles Chesnutt contributed to the local color fiction of the nineteenth century with stories of their respective regions (Jewett writing of New England and Chesnutt the South).
5. Consider “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a feminist text. What does the work say about women and American culture at the turn of the century? How does the wife defeat the patriarchal culture represented in the attitude of her husband?
6. Compare the themes (and pivotal moments) in “The Open Boat” and “To Build a Fire,” demonstrating how both stories fit into the Naturalistic movement in American literature.
7. Explain why Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, or Edna St. Vincent Millay is considered a Modernist writer. Use at least two poems to support your points.
8. Examine Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” which is both his most popular poem and his most commonly misinterpreted poem. (Poem can be found online.) Explain the irony in the last stanza, providing supporting evidence from the poem to prove it is not about taking a “less traveled by” road in life but rather choosing a road and living with the decision.
Your essays should be in MLA Style and approximately 3-4 pages, not including the Work(s) Cited page. 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).
In the upper left-hand corner of the paper, place your name, the professor’s name, the course name, and the due date for the assignment on consecutive lines. Double space your information from your name onward, and don’t forget a title. All papers should be in Times New Roman font with 12-point type with one-inch margins all the way around your paper. All paragraph indentations should be indented five spaces (use the tab key) from the left margin. All work is to be left justified. When quoting lines in literature, please research the proper way to cite short stories, plays, or poems.
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