Final American Literature research paper

Discuss which author most successfully defines his or her culture. Hawthorne, Paine, Emerson, Dickinson, and Franklin.

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Due: July 30 via Canvas before 11:59 p.m.
Must contain quotes, in-text cites and Works Cited page showing use of primary (one of the readings from the
textbook) and secondary sources. Works Cited does not count in page total. Do not use Wikipedia, 123 HelpMe,
Quote databases or SparkNotes, or any such sources in any essay for this class. If you are in doubt always ask
your instructor. All essays for English 251 must be written in third person.
*Early American writers were not only trying to produce good writing, but many were trying to create literature
that was distinctly “American.” In essence, many of the works we have had this semester set out to define a
culture, but how does one accomplish that? For the research essay for this class, write a 4-6 page essay (minimum
1500 words) that discusses which author most successfully defines his or her culture (it can be any of the works in
the two anthologies, but I recommend one that we have gone over in class). You will want to consider several
literary elements of the pieces such as imagery, character, tone, plot, metaphor or simile in your discussion. In
addition, you may want to contrast it with other works that we have had this semester in order to demonstrate how
your work is the most successful.
As you look at the piece you have chosen, consider the critical elements of society and culture presented in the
work and how that work defines that culture. One of the things you may want to consider is the manner in which
the work is presented to the reader. Does the historical period affect the way the author presents his or her culture?
What is important to this author? Religion? Finding oneself? Something else? Is the picture of the culture that
the author presents realistic? Unrealistic? Does the work define a culture unintentionally? Intentionally? What
literary elements (extended metaphor, satire, hyperbole, etc.) does the author use in their work and how does that
affect the way we see the culture that the author is trying to define? This does not have to be a large culture, but it
could be:

A micro-culture like the seamen on a ship
A small community
A religious culture
A culture of commerce
A culture of manhood / womanhood
Don’t just answer these questions and call it an essay, but carefully read the work and discover for yourself the
elements of each that affect the presentation of the culture in the work. In addition to your own analysis of the
work (written in third person), you must use at least four (4) secondary sources that you incorporate into
your argument. The primary source does not count in this number, but you must use it in the essay andcite
it on your works cited page (in other words, you will have at least 5 entries on your works cited). Please use
MLA style for your in-text citations and works cited page. If you need to brush up on this material, either
purchase or check out a reference guide to MLA style. Also, there is a good MLA guide at These sources must be viable, legitimate academic sources that analyze the work.
In other words, for a source to count it needs to analyze and/or discuss the work. Dictionary definitions, quote
databases should not be used, and they will not be counted toward your four secondary sources.
Begin with an interesting and informative title
Make a clear and concise claim (have a focused thesis that is underlined)
Examines the culture presented in one of the works from the anthologies
Offer a variety of reasons to support your claim and relate the texts to each other
Use evidence from the texts of the work to support your claim.
Use 4 secondary sources
Be carefully argued and clearly written
Use diction and style appropriate to a formal essay
Be free of grammatical and mechanical errors, including staple, default margins, and page #s
Be double spaced and in Times New Roman, 12-pt. Font (no bold print), 1” margins
Be written in the third person (I will not grade an essay that isn’t)
Be at least 4 pages (minimum of 1500 words)
Follow MLA requirements including Works Cited, in text citations, page format, etc.

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