American philosophy and art influence
Choose one of the essay topics below and write a three to five-page essay on it. You will need to quote and closely analyze the texts we have read this term in order to successfully complete this paper. Be sure to follow proper MLA format for quoting and citing texts.
1) Discuss Whitman’s language. What kind of images and symbols does he use? What form does his poetry take? Why does he choose them? What is he trying to achieve?
2) This course in American Literature began with a woman writer, Mary Rowlandson, and will end with a woman poet, Emily Dickinson. They are each concerned with God, death, and spiritual experience. Discuss how these women treat one or more of these issues. Each writes of basic, very human life events and experiences, yet each uses these events and experiences to consider religious issues, and to perhaps achieve a religious ecstasy. Hint: You’ll need to read a few more poems than have been assigned.
3) Both Thoreau and Franklin write autobiographies of a sort. What is each trying to prove about how to best live life? How is their message similar? How is it different?
4) Emerson can be said to be the father of 19th century American Literature. His concern to create distinctly American philosophy and art influenced many American thinkers, including Thoreau and Whitman. Discuss how Thoreau’s and/or Whitman’s writing embodies and perhaps modifies Emerson’s ideas. Be sure to consider the role of nature as you answer this essay.
5) Consider how Poe’s writing could be considered a critique of the Enlightenment’s belief in the inherent rationality of the human mind and in the inevitable progress of society that would occur because of that rationality.
6) Part of Jacobs and Douglass’s desire in publishing their narratives is to aid the abolitionist cause. As part of their strategy, they each show that the slave system is not only dehumanizing to the African Americans who suffer under it, but also that it corrupts the white people who benefit from it. Discuss how they portray the effects of slavery on whites.
7) What does literacy mean to Douglass and Jacobs?