Final Writing Assignment

Here is your final writing assignment. Your task is to compose an essay examining some idea/thread/theme found within the progression of American literature from the early explorers to the Civil War era, roughly 1860. The expectation is that the idea/thread/theme and how it evolved, for better or worse as you see it. For each of the points examined, work in some discussion of a different course learning outcome (provided below), showing how some understanding of the point under discussion enabled you to engage that outcome. Be sure to illustrate each point with examples from the reading. Any essays using the 5-paragraph format will receive no better than a 2.0 for it's final grade. I suggest spending about two hours on this, but you can spend as much time as you like. Essays should submitted by midnight, Friday, June 20. Submit via email as an attached word processing file to bradleyDOTbleckATspokanefallsDOT edu.

Possible points to address:

  • race
  • religion
  • gender
  • economics/class
  • whatever you see that makes sense

Official Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate skill in analyzing elements of literature such as plot, character, setting, tone, point of view, symbol, irony and theme.
  2. Use the language and techniques of literary criticism when discussing American literature.
  3. Recognize and respect the diversity of individual and cultural values depicted in literature
  4. Develop an appreciation for the skill and creativity of individual authors of American literature
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the history and development of American literature to 1865.
  6. Recognize the historical, social, and cultural contexts of American literature to 1865.

Journal Five: The Sublime

Before discussing Emerson, I provided an overview of the sublime (the link to which you can click on for a refresher, or you can check further by looking at the Wikipedia entry, particularly Mendelssohn, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Hegel's views). Considering each of this week's writers and their texts, what do these texts and writers DO, what to they express, demonstrate, indicate or whatever verb might work for you, in relation to the sublime? In answering that question, respond as you would with a reaction chart, touching on three of the four following questions: What do I notice? What do I value? What do I question? What questions do I have? Illustrate each answer with a passage from our reading that works to make concrete the general idea you are working with. That means there should be at least three different passages, one for each of the questions.

When you have posted your journal, by midnight Monday (note the change here), be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal by Wednesday.

Journal Four: Jefferson, Equiano, and Poe

Although our reading has been limited over the last two weeks, each of the three writers shares a little something. In short, each of what we have read can readily be described as persuasive, maybe even to the point of propaganda (political for Jefferson, social and political for Equiano and personal for Poe). Reaching each of the writers and their texts with this in mind, what do these texts DO? do they give us a sense of an emerging nation, one coming to a stage of adolescence perhaps? Do they show a broad range of national thought? What? In answering that question, respond as you would with a reaction chart, touching on three of the four following questions: What do I notice? What do I value? What do I question? What questions do I have? Illustrate each answer with a passage from our reading that works to make concrete the general idea you are working with. That means there should be three different passages, one for each of the questions.

When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal by Wednesday.

Sample Response Paragraph

While much has been written about the reliability of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Ida Corley's application of Claudia Tate's ideas of conscious and unconscious discourse in her essay "The Subject of Abolitionist Rhetoric: Freedom and Trauma in the Life of Olaudah Equiano" provides two separate lenses in which to better understand Equiano's narrative and to determine whether the veracity of his origins ought to be of concern to the reader.

When it comes to the use of "conscious discourse," Corley quotes Tate's definition, that such discourse will "describe 'the explicit social content' of a novel 'recorded, for example in the plot, incidents, characterization and dialogue'" (141). One instance of this conscious discourse is where Equiano "describes numerous heinous acts of torture committed by slavers against their slaves [and the white crew as well] as evidence of the dehumanizing goals of the institution [of slavery and slave trading" (Corley 146). Equiano himself writes how the brutal inhumanity was not just directed at the slaves, but that "one white man in particular I saw, when we were permitted to be on deck, flogged so unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast, that he died in consequence of it" (Equiano 1278). Many might argue that whether this is the recollection of a a particular incident, a collage of memories, or something fabricated entirely, is of no consequence when it comes to the abolition movement. This incident, among the many placed in Africa, capture the essence of the dehumanization of the slave trade, and that truth is greater than any historical incident that may or may not have occurred as a result of the slave trade.

Journal Three: Religion and Reason

With this weeks' readings we encounter something of a bridge between Puritan and Revolutionary America. Based on what we've read, what would this week's writers think of today's America? would they appreciate the nation and people we have become? Be disappointed? have some mixed emotions? In answering that question, respond as you would with a reaction chart, touching on three of the four following questions: What do I notice? What do I value? What do I question? What questions do I have? Illustrate each answer with a passage from our reading that works to make concrete the general idea you are working with. That means there should be three different passages, one for each of the questions.

Post your journals by midnight Sunday. As always, respond to at least two journals and to at least one response to your journals by Wednesday.

Literature Review Assignment

The primary thrust of this assignment is to propel you to engage in effective research, to understand the scholarship taking place with regard to what you are reading and writing about, and your demonstrating that you can effectively engage not just the assigned readings, but the scholarship as well. To this end, the writing assignments consist of a one source literature review.

The piece of scholarship you work with should be taken from the SFCC Library database JSTOR. The essay must be a minimum of 10 pages. If you want to combine two sources to meet the 10 page threshold, that's fine.

  1. Find a piece of scholarship to work with and print it out
  2. Annotate the scholarly source with an eye toward summarizing it
  3. Weave the annotations together to form the summary. At the beginning and halfway through each summary paragraph, acknowledge the scholar with something such as "Scholar writes . . . " but use the person's name.
  4. Once done with the summary, decide which elements of it to address, what light it shed on the original. Develop response paragraphs accordingly, along with an appropriate introduction and conclusion

Click on the "read more" link to see all of the assignment.

Journal Two: Early Puritans

<-Remember, click "create content" to the left of this message, then "blog entry."

If you go to the glossary of terms (right there to the left of this message), and click on Puritanism (or just click on this link I inserted for you) you can review the characteristics of Puritanism that were briefly introduced in class earlier this week, and some that weren't such as the "Orderly Society" material at the bottom of the page.

Given these various components of Puritanism, and you can dig up some more if you like, maybe from Wikipedia or what you have, if you like, what do the readings we encountered this week DO? do they give us a better sense of the early settlers? Provide some understanding or insight to their racist views? What? In answering that question, respond as you would with a reaction chart, touching on three of the four following questions: What do I notice? What do I value? What do I question? What questions do I have? Illustrate each answer with a passage from our reading that works to make concrete the general idea you are working with. That means there should be three different passages, one for each of the questions.

When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal by Wednesday.

Journal One: Early Explorers

The early explorers of America can be seen as either imperialists or colonialists. One definition of imperialism is "the policy and practice of a power in extending control over weaker peoples or areas" and for colonialism it's "the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people or the system or policy by which a nation maintains or advocates such control or influence."

Given these two definitions, and you can find another if you like, what do the readings we encountered this week DO? In answering that question, respond as you would with a reaction chart, touching on three of the four following questions: What do I notice? What do I value? What do I question? What questions do I have? Illustrate each answer with a passage from our reading that works to make concrete the general idea you are working with. That means there should be three different passages, one for each of the questions.

When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal by Wednesday.

Close Reading Powerpoints

Each is attached!

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