Common Themes Among American Literature

Write an essay of about 1000 words (3 ½ pages) that develops your own argument about a specific theme in one or more assigned texts from the first eight weeks of the semester (listed below). Articulate this argument as your thesis statement—which is your own interpretation of the representation and significance of your selected theme in your selected text(s). Your essay may build on one or more of your first three Biweekly Writings.

This assignment asks you to develop your own ideas about primary source material without conducting research of secondary sources. As you write, you will realize there are questions that you cannot fully answer based on the primary source material alone: save those questions to guide you on the next essay assignment, which will ask you to expand and revise this essay based on research.

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When incorporating source material into your essay, use a signal phrase to attribute evidence to its author; describe the evidence and identify its context for readers unfamiliar with the source; and be sure to represent the source accurately. When you quote a poem, substitute line breaks with /, and include the line number(s) in parentheses at the end of your sentence before the period. For example: Langston Hughes writes, ″I am the darker brother./They send me to eat in the kitchen/When company comes,″ (lines 2-4). When you quote a paginated work of prose, include the page number of the passage in parentheses at the end of your sentence before the period. Avoid block quotations of sources (i.e., quotations of more than four lines of prose); instead, incorporate brief quotations into your own sentences, placing quotation marks around any exact language lifted from the source. Use the OWL at Purdue’s MLA Guide to help you to format in-text citations and quotations. You should not only quote but also paraphrase or summarize examples.

Your essay should have:
– an introductory paragraph that engages your audience, identifies the literary text(s) and theme, and states your thesis;
– body paragraphs that each focus on one dimension of your argument;
– develop a topic sentence for each body paragraph;
– support the topic sentence by analyzing details in the text(s) in each body paragraph;
– use signal phrases and/or in-text citations in MLA style;
logical transitions between paragraphs, ideas, and evidence;
– a concluding paragraph that rephrases your thesis;
– a separate Works Cited page with hanging, 1/2-inch indented citations according to the MLA Guide, 8th edition (make the Works Cited page the final page of your essay’s document).

Assigned texts to choose from:
-“The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet

-“On Being Brought from Africa to America,” by Phyllis Wheatley

-“To S. M. A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works,” by Phyllis Wheatly

-“To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth,” by Phyllis Wheatley

– ″Great Speeches by Native Americans″

– Wieland; or, the Transformation (novel by Charles Brockden Brown)

-″The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe

-″Talma Gordon″ by Pauline Hopkins

-“The Slave Auction″ by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

-“Publication – is the Auction (788)” by Emily Dickinson

-“Now I knew I lost her – (1274)” by Emily Dickinson

-“I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman

-″I, Too″ by Langston Hughes

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