Saturday, May 7, 2011

Extra Credit Assignment

Below are the instructions for the extra credit assignment. Take note that this assignment is optional--you are not required to submit this paper.


As we have seen in the past few weeks, many writers of the American Renaissance engaged with a central epistemological question: To what degree can we understand the nature of the universe and the meaning of our very existence? Edgar Allan Poe connects with this very question in his short story “The Masque of the Red Death.” Write an essay in which you analyze Poe’s use of horror and terror in that story. How does Poe use these elements to comment on the capability of human understanding?

This essay will require a close reading of the short story. Do not incorporate any outside sources into your paper.


The purpose of this paper is for students to closely explore a canonical text in connection with larger themes in American literature. This paper will also give students an opportunity to gain experience in analyzing and interpreting a work of literature while formulating a thesis-driven and well-supported essay.


This paper should be approximately 3-5 pages in length.


The format for this paper is MLA.


This paper is worth up to the equivalent of two quiz A’s.


Email me your paper by 9pm on Wednesday 5/11.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Walt Whitman

Works Discussed:
* Whitman, From "1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass" (2195-2200); From "Song of Myself" (2210-2229)

Topics Discussed:
* Democratic Vision: Diversity, Equality
* Relation Between the Self and the Collective (Society)
* Transcendentalist Influence on Philosophical Outlook
* Conception of American Poet's Role
* View of Poetry/Art
* Deviations From Traditional Poetic Conventions
* Views of Death, Sex, Human Body and Soul, The Past and Present, The Modern World

Monday, May 2, 2011

Frederick Douglass

Works Discussed:
* Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
* Fitzhugh, From Sociology for the South, 1854 (Handout)

Topics Discussed:

* Historical Context, Abolitionism
* Characteristics of Slave Narrative
* Influence of Romanticism
* Role of Autobiography: Dual Voices
* American Self-hood: Douglass as Type
* Effects of Slavery: Slaves, Whites, Women
* View of American Ideology and Reality
* Attitude Toward Christianity
* Nature of Laws, History
* Effects of Capitalism