American Literature
Essay I
Fall 2014


Choose one of the topics below for a 500-750-word essay. Your essay should follow MLA (Modern Language Association ) Guidelines in all ways.  For example, your margins should be 1" all around the page.  You should use continuous pagination throughout.  Your essay should be double-spaced.  You should have a header on each page that includes your last name and the page number.  You must include in-text citations for all quoted, paraphrased, and summarized work.  You must create a Works Cited page that is continuously paginated with your essay and that contains a list of all sources that were actually used in the essay.  This list will include both primary and secondary sources.

You must use at least one outside source in your essay.  Your essay should contain a minimum of four quotations from primary/secondary works, as well as at least two paraphrases/summaries.  In-text citations should contain author's last name and page number inside parenthesis. 

Example: (Jones 24).

Works Cited entries are alphabetized by author's last name and contain the following when available: Author's last name, author's first name, article (or poem or short story) title, book or periodical title, pubication city, publication date, electronic information (if it is an electronic source), date posted, and date accessed.

1.  The short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” reflects the Gothic movement in American literature.  What characteristics of the story could be considered Gothic?  Include several of these elements in your response and explain how each illustrates Gothicism.  Please use specific details from the story to support your response.  


2.  Much early American literature includes depictions of Native Americans.  Some of these are the result of actual interaction/encounters that settlers in the New World experienced.  Other accounts are within works of fiction, either Native stories passed down via oral tradition and eventually recorded in texts or celebrated works of American writers of European descent.   Describe the multi-faceted American Native as he is depicted within these works.  What conclusions can be drawn about his/her character?  What rumors can be dispelled to some extent.  Please include specific examples from the works we have discussed to support your response.  


3.  Mid-nineteenth century New England gave birth to the Transcendentalist movement in literature.  Explain some of the attitudes/values associated with the Transcendentalists.  Identify at least one author associated with the movement, and discuss that author’s contribution to American literature.

4.  "Civil Disobedience" sprang out of the Transcendentalist, Abolitionist, and Women's Suffragist movements in the United States.  What details within the essay support these movements?  What details could actually weaken the respective causes?  Within your essay, discuss Thoreau's primary claim.  Does this claim help support these movements?