Response Paper


This assignment is designed to help you focus on a topic from the literature we have read in Units 2 and 3 and develop an argument about that topic based upon one of the questions provided for you below. You only have to choose one of the questions for this assignment, but you will want to read through all of them to determine which question fits your understanding and knowledge the best, as well as your personal interest in the material. These questions are designed to help you identify in writing the major objectives of Units 2 and 3 and the Content Knowledge associated with the Course Objectives.

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This assignment will help you master several important skills necessary to performing writing tasks in college and engaging with ideas and values that are foundational to a well-rounded university education.

Identify and apply a variety of critical approaches to literature
Identify the important literary periods and themes of American Literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present
Demonstrate knowledge of a diversity of American cultures through the study of literature
Apply various reading strategies to text in order to summarize, synthesize, analyze, interpret, and evaluate the literature
Using MLA style and a variety of sources, write a paper on American literature that shows original thought, research, and an ability to assimilate and synthesize the ideas of others
Enhance technological skills


• Choose one of the questions below to answer for this assignment. Please remember to copy/paste the question with your response and analysis. You should choose a question that you find interesting and believe you can answer in an engaging manner. You will want to support your response not only with good logic and explanations on your part but also with pertinent passages (short quotations are best) from the texts that pertain to the question you have chosen.

• Your response should be in the form of a typical essay (probably four to six paragraphs), with a short introduction, thesis statement, and supporting paragraphs with a conclusion.

• Your essay should total at least 500 words.

• This assignment is worth 100 points and will count 10% of your total grade for the course.


Select one poem by Dickinson or Whitman (you may use only section of “Song of Myself” to discuss the Romantic movement. In other words, explain what makes your selected poem Romantic. How does this text illustrate the characteristics of Romanticism? Be specific.
How do Dickinson’s poems support or challenge what we think we know about gender roles in the nineteenth century?
Explain Howells’ definition of Realism using “Editha”. For example, explain how and why George and his mother present a realistic point of view while Editha presents a more Romantic concept of life.
In Chesnutt’s “The Passing of Grandison,” the title character is a trickster figure. Explain how he functions as a trickster figure and for what purpose. Include the definition of the trickster in your answer. You may also discuss any other tricksters in the story. For example, does Chesnutt as author function as a trickster with his audience.
Choose one of the female characters in the readings for Units 2 and 3 and discuss how that character has been shaped by the concepts in the Cult of True Womanhood.
In The Awakening, women play a prominent role. Women of this period are often described as essentially powerless in the wake of a patriarchal society, confined to the home and dominated by the Cult of Domesticity. Do you see powerlessness at work or displays of power in the women characters in this work? Or possibly a combination of both?
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” what does the yellow wallpaper represent, both to the narrator and to the reader? Include in your answer the significance of the “woman trapped behind the wallpaper” – why does the narrator want to free her? What does the trapped woman signify and is she “free” at the end?
Explain how and why “The Open Boat” is a Naturalistic story. For example, fully explain the importance of nature’s indifference in the story. To answer this question, you may discuss the repetitive lines in the story – how do they change and why? How do these lines illustrate nature’s indifference?

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