ENGL2570 - Survey of American Literature I

Question # 00843385 Posted By: wildcraft Updated on: 07/10/2023 11:53 PM Due on: 07/11/2023
Subject English Topic General English Tutorials:
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Critical Post

ENGL 2570: Survey of American Literature I


The critical essay should be an interpretation of literary text(s) that establishes the author’s intent by analyzing characters, imagery, and/or themes/main ideas. Each paper should contain a clear, analytical thesis statement. Develop your argument through close reading and textual analysis using the SIEL method – State, Illustrate, Explain, Link -- that you have been practicing in journal entries.


1) Journal entry 3 requires you to answer specific questions about your essay topic. To write the entry effectively, you will need to define your topic specifically and decide exactly how you plan to support your thesis. I will give you feedback and suggestions about your topic.

Length: 4 -5 pages. Points will be deducted from your grade if your paper does not meet length requirements.

Format: Typed, double-spaced, appropriately and METICULOUSLY documented. All papers must be typed in 12- point font with 1 inch margins on all sides.

Your analysis will be based on your own close reading of the texts. You are not allowed to use secondary or critical sources in developing your analysis. All essays should have a Works Cited page to cite the primary text you are analyzing. BE SURE that you understand the conventions of MLA parenthetical documentation. You will be penalized at least a letter grade for sloppy, inaccurate or incomplete documentation. Plagiarized papers will fail automatically.

Access the link below.


On the left sidebar: First click on Research and Citation. Next click on

MLA Style. Now click on MLA Formatting and Style Guide.

Don’t get frustrated! It looks a lot more complicated than it is.

For your essays, you will want to know:

1) What information to include in a parenthetical citation. Your citations will be for a work within an anthology

2) What the Works Cited page should look like.


Consider and discuss the significance of the author’s intent in ALL of these essays. At the center of any literary analysis are the core questions: Why did the author create this work? What impact does the author want the story or novel to have on his or her readers? What do you consider an important purpose of the story?

Note that the questions within each possible topic are intended as prompts. Your development of the essay will be guided by your thesis statement. In other words, this is not an exam! You do not have to answer all parts of the question!

1.) Write a thematic analysis of Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography. Clearly establish what you consider a controlling purpose or intent of his narrative. What do you see as a controlling theme of the narrative? How does he structure the narrative as a coming-of age story or Bildungsroman? What assumptions does he make about the possibilities for his life as an American? What does Franklin see as the challenges of being an American like him? Discuss specific events that support your thesis.

2.) Write an analysis of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. Clearly establish the purpose(s) of the narrative. What do you see as a controlling theme of the narrative? Discuss specific events or examples that support your thesis. The following are possible approaches to the topic: In what ways does Douglass seek to negotiate the constrictions of enslavement? Address the ways in which Douglass claims his personhood or humanity, and, specifically the ways in which he defines and claims his manhood. What events do you see as particularly critical to his eventual attainment of his freedom?

3.) Write an analysis of Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative. Clearly establish what you see as an important purpose or intent of the narrative. What do you see as a controlling theme of the narrative? Be sure to provide specific supporting events or examples from the narrative. You may want to focus on  (Prompts): Equiano’s comparison of his experience of African and American /New World slavery; his conversion to Christianity and how that informs his perspective and critique;  his depiction of the experiences of other enslaved people and of his own experiences; his depiction of the extreme brutality and deprivation to which many enslaved people are subjected; etc.

4.) Write a comparative thematic analysis of two poems by Emily Dickinson. Possible themes that you can address: spiritual and/or religious beliefs; death, especially whether or not there is life after death; on becoming a wife; what it means to be a poet,  etc. At least one of the poems must be from the class assignment.

5.) Write an analysis of Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and her “Letter from a Fugitive Slave.” What specific challenges did she face writing about her experiences as a formerly enslaved woman? Why do you think she wrote the narrative and the letter despite these challenges? What do you see as a controlling theme of the narrative? Of the letter? What is the tone of both? Who is her audience? Discuss specific events or examples that support your thesis. The following are possible approaches to the topic: Consider the ways in which Jacobs challenges the preconceptions, of her “owners” as well as of her audience. What do you think accounts for her strong sense of self despite having been enslaved all of her life? What strategies does she use to claim agency and some control over her life, even as an enslaved teenage girl? What does she value most about herself?

6 .) Melville has written a story that CANNOT be read as a simple tale of good vs. evil. What is Melville’s intent? What about the story makes it more complex than that? Within this context, write a character analysis of ONE or TWO of the three main characters: Babo, Delano, and/or Cereno. Depending on whom you choose, consider the following questions: Do you see Babo as a hero? Why or why not? How are our perceptions of him influenced by the depositions of Cereno and Delano? Why doesn’t Babo speak at his trial? Do you see Captain Delano as a hero? Why or why not? Do we ever see him from someone else’s perspective? What does he ultimately think of his own actions on the San Dominick? Considering where the mutiny takes place, do we see Cereno as a victim? Why or why not?



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