Writing Two Possible Topics

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Writing Two Possible Topics

PLEASE NOTE: These are only suggestions.  Your paper does NOT have to cover one of these topics.

  1. Several of the selections that we have read have addressed women and their roles in society. Using “Gallery: Women, Domesticity, and Publication,” Margaret Fuller’s “”The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men. Woman versus Women” and Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl compare the way the women in these selections deal with their ‘trials and tribulations.’  NOTE: you may use any two female writers of the period.
  2. Using Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Douglas’ Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, contrast the two main characters in these stories to demonstrate how each adapts to a life of slavery.
  3. Compare Poe’s “Ligeia” to Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” using a theme of appearance versus reality. Be sure to examine how both writers attempt to validate their stories.


  1. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman both address nature in their poetry. Examine two or more poems by each poet and describe how the theme of nature is addressed using form and content.
  2. Examine William Apess’ “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” and even though this writer isn’t in the period, read Sherman Alexie’s “My Indian Education” http://comosr.spps.org/alexie Compare the two and explain how things have changed for Indians between 1833 and 1995.
  3. All of the following are prominent writers we haven’t studied in this course. Choose one or more selections by one of these writers and analyze the selection using the guidelines in “Writing the Literary Analysis” (characters, plot development, themes, reflection of the age).  Herman Melville, James Fenimore Cooper, Oliver Wendell Holmes (poetry), James Russell Lowell, Henry David Thoreau.
  4. Examine some of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poetry and choose common themes that appear.
  5. The abolition of slavery continues to be an issue during this period. Examine any two writers who address the issue (see “Gallery: Slavery and Abolition”) and describe how they influenced abolition.  Consider the writers we have studied and their influence.
  6. Read more about the conditions surrounding the larger cities as they approached the Industrial Revolution and the living conditions of the workers in those cities. Use Davis’ “Life in the Iron Mills” as an example of the deplorable conditions that existed and as a forerunner of realistic writing seen after the Civil War.
  7. Examine the writings of Abraham Lincoln and explain how his writing advanced the cause of freedom.
  8. Use any writer we have studied and read additional stories, essays or poems and analyze the work, looking for common themes and impact on the period.

Please avoid the following for analysis, as they are longer works that have been thoroughly analyzed by multiple critics:  Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Scarlet Letter

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