This is a response writing assignment, where you will analyze and reflect on one of the texts that we’ve read so far this semester and discuss how that text is truly American. Remember that this is your own interpretation of the text, and any interpretation is fine as long as it’s backed up by the text. Outside sources aren’t necessary for this essay but you may use them to help in your analysis. Below are assignment details to guide you.
Produce a clearly organized response essay that interprets and analyzes a short story or poem for its American qualities.
Generate a clear thesis statement about the text’s American qualities.
Use textual evidence from the text to back up your points.
Revise and edit to achieve a clear rhetorical purpose and to meet audience needs.
Learn the standards of MLA formatting.
Introduction: In the first paragraph you will introduce your reader to the topic and the text. First, explain what qualities you think define American literature. What makes a text truly American? What are some typical values, themes, settings, plot points, symbols, character traits, etc. that we look for in American literature? What are some important aspects of our American culture that bleed into our artforms?
Next, introduce your reader to the text which you think exemplifies these American qualities. Give them enough context to set up your analysis. You can include relevant background information about the author, when the piece was published, and a short summary, but remember to include a thesis statement that discusses how this particular text shows those American qualities.Analyzation: For the body paragraphs, you will expand on the claim put forth in your thesis and provide evidence from the text. How does the piece of literature encapsulate America or American qualities? What are those American qualities in detail? How does this text match up with your understanding of what makes America American? How does the theme, setting, characters, plot, symbols, etc. reflect our culture? Remember to stay focused, it’s best to choose one or two qualities to focus on, instead of trying to cover a ton in such a short response. Remember to use textual evidence by using quotations and paraphrases.
Purpose: Next, analyze why the author wrote this piece. Put yourself in the author’s shoes. What do you think the author’s purpose in writing this was? Was it to inform, inspire, teach? Is there a moral, philosophical, social, or political issue they are trying to tackle? Does the time-period that the author wrote the text inform the content? Have our values changed since then? You can pick more than one of these to tackle. Explain why you think this.
Conclusion: Lastly, conclude your essay by summarizing your main points and showing how they fit together to prove your thesis. Then take it a step further by answering some of the following questions: is this text relevant to Americans today? How so? What might a reader learn from it? Should this text be included in the study of American literature, why or why not?
Length: ~800 words
Formatting: This essay should be formatted as a formal essay according to MLA standards. Include a Works Cited page with a citation for the poem and any outside sources you used.
The introduction gives proper context to the text, includes a thesis statement, and forecasts the direction of the essay (10 points)
The thesis statement is clear and talks about how the text exhibits an American quality or qualities (10 points)
The author includes thorough analyzation and interpretation of the text and those qualities (20 points)
The author uses evidence from the text to support their analyzation (10 points)
The author talks about the author’s purpose (10 points)
The conclusion brings closure to the essay and takes it one step further (10 points)
The essay is coherent and well organized (10 points)
The essay shows evidence of proofreading for spelling, grammar, and syntax (10 points)
The author uses MLA formatting and includes a Works Cited page (10 points)