Hoose one the following topics that are included in the order instructions. It should say topic 1 through topic 5

The goal of this assignment is for you show your ability to analyze multiple works of literature and make an argument that connects them. You will write a 750a 1000 word essay that includes at least 3 authors and at least 3 different time periods/philosophical movements, using 1 of the 5 options listed below. Your essay should demonstrate your best writing ability:
a?a clear thesis that makes an argument;
a?a well-developed argument that offers specific details and quotes from some of the authors we have read.
a?a fully developed essay with an introduction, conclusion, and multiple body paragraphs; and,
a?correct grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

A thesis for your essay is due on Friday, November 22; there is a journal assignment for that purpose. This serves two purposes: 1) it forces you to get started on the assignment, and it allows me to give you feedback on your thesis before you write the essay.

What do I expect in this essay?
a?an argument: itas not enough to present information (Emerson writes _____; Paine says ________); you must draw conclusions from that information.
a?specific details and quotes: the way you make your argument is by providing specific details and quotes from authors we have read. An essay focused on generalities (Bradstreet, Paine, Bryant, and Emerson all write about Nature, therefore Nature is an important ideal in American literature.) will fail.
a?explanation: Youave got a thesis, youave got details and quotes; now you have to connect them and explain how they fit together. Itas not enough to quote Emerson saying a?Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own minda? and Paine saying a?My own mind is my own churcha?; you have to explain the connection you see between the two authors and their statements.
a?deep thinking: C-level (average or adequate) work will make a basic, functional argument about one of the topics and back that up with details and quotes. Aa and B-level work will dig deeper, noting similarities and differences among the authors, connecting in their philosophies, etc.
a?big-idea thinking: itas easy with an assignment to get caught up in obvious, literal details as this student did:


Both Paine and Emerson talk about their a?own mind.a? Thinking is important to both men. So is thinking for themselves. Thatas why Paine writes a?my own minda? and Emerson also emphasizes those words. Even though these two writers are separated by many years and different philosophies, both men want to think their own thoughts.

Instead of thinking a?a?own minda here, a?own minda therea Iave got a match!a? consider the ideas behind the words: What is Paine writing about when he makes this statement? Why is that statement important for him? What is Emerson discussing when he makes his statement? Is it the same thing as Paine? Even though they use the same words, do they have same idea in mind?

For help with quoting and documenting, see a?Basics of Using Source Materialsa?.

Topic 1: Religion and Slavery

Many of the abolitionist authors make use of religion and/or the Bible to support their arguments against slavery.

Topic 2: Nature as a window to the world

In all 4 worldviews, nature is used a tool to make sense of the world.

Topic 3: Nonconformity

Emerson is the American author associated with nonconformity, but this idea can be found in writing from across the semester.

Topic 4: the Divine

The divinea whether itas God, Nature, the Almighty Lecturer, or a Powera is a consistent presence in the literature we have studied.

Topic 5: Acquiring knowledge

Each of the a isms we have read about, and virtually all the authors, have touched on how human beings know things. Is it by revelation, discovery, guidance, reason?

helpful hints for developing a thesis

Whichever topic you choose, you must develop an argument that can be presented in a thesis. But how do you get to an argument? Here are some questions to ask yourself about your topic:
a?How is the topic discussed by each author?
a?Why is it valued or important to each one?
a?What purpose does this topic serve in the works you want to write about or in the lives of their authors?
a?What changes as a topic is presented to different audiences and different worldviews?
a?Many authors use the same words, but they donat always mean the same thing. Both Winthrop and Franklin attribute success to providence. Emerson says he wants a?a religion by revelation,a? Paine discusses revelation, and so do the Puritans: do they all have the same idea in mind when they use that word? Consider how vocabulary and meaning change as we move through time.