Essay 2: Age of Reason/Revolutionary Period Instructions
Choose ONE of the following topics and write a polished essay of about 750 words (3-4 double spaced typed pages). The essay requires not less than 2 secondary sources in addition to your primary sources (the literature you are analyzing). Before writing your essay, reread your notes and assigned textbook reading(s) just to refresh your memory. Also, it might be useful to reread a composition textbook to remind yourself of the guidelines on how to write a clearly-defined thesis statement, well-developed paragraph(s), and an essay using the MLA or APA or Turabian parenthetical method of documentation for your quotations and any secondary sources you cite. To let your instructor know which style of documentation you are using, write MLA, APA, or Turabian in the title of your essay as follows: Title – Citation style (e.g., “Christians and the Study of American Literature – APA”).
Your 2 secondary sources should be academic, peer-reviewed sources, such as articles from scholarly journals and books. Websites, such as Lit Charts, Spark Notes, Shmoop, and so on are not academic sources. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other professors’ notes are likely accurate, but they are not academic research. You can cite our textbook in your paper, but it will not count toward your 2 secondary sources. If you have trouble finding scholarly secondary sources, you can access the library’s English Research Guide here.
Develop a clear thesis that is grounded in the literature and specifies the titles of the literary works. Remember that while it is acceptable to include some biographical and historical information for context, your focus should be on analyzing the literature.
NOTE: To receive an excellent grade, a student must demonstrate a reasonable competence in organizing an essay on a set topic; developing ideas logically and systematically; supporting these ideas with the necessary evidence, quotations or examples; organizing a paragraph; documenting essays (using MLA, APA, or Turabian) style; spelling the commoner words of the English language correctly; punctuating correctly; and writing grammatical sentences, avoiding such common mistakes as comma splices, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, faulty agreements, faulty references, shifts in person, number, or tense.
1. Choose any ONE of the works/authors of the Age of Reason/Revolutionary period studied in this course and write a literary analysis of the chosen work. The focus of the essay should be three-fold: to discuss the theme of the author/work, the major characteristics of the period that are evident in the work, and major narrative devices the author uses to communicate his or her message. Your essay must have a clearly-defined thesis statement, well-developed paragraph(s), and fitting conclusion. In your thesis, assert how the author uses narrative devices to convey the theme of the work and how the theme or narrative devices demonstrate major characteristics of the period. Include direct quotes from the primary sources for analysis and support.
2. The Puritan intellectual and spiritual energies were so decisive in laying down the patterns of American intellectual and spiritual (Christian) life. Though Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin make clear their belief in God, discuss how their writing, ideas, and beliefs depart from the firmly established Puritan/Christian beliefs? Include direct quotes from the primary sources for analysis and support.
3. Contemporary poet June Jordan calls Wheatley “Phillis Miracle.” You can access Jordan’s “The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry in America” here. Why is Wheatley’s achievement(s) considered a “miracle”? How did this “miracle” affect the thinking and assumptions at the time and even contributed to the abolition of slavery? Include direct quotes from the Wheatley’s poetry for analysis and support. You do not have to include direct quotes from Jordan’s work, but it would help to further develop your argument; however, Jordan’s work would be a primary source (and not count toward your two secondary sources).
4. Compare and/or contrast the works of Phillis Wheatley and Anne Bradstreet. Both of these authors lived in a time when women did not have a strong voice. Additionally, slaves rarely received an education, let alone had the opportunity to speak by composing and publishing poetry. How do these authors shed light on the perspectives of women and slaves (in the case of Wheatley) in their literary periods? Include direct quotes from Wheatley’s poetry and Bradstreet’s poetry for analysis and support.