Choose one of the following topics:
1. Use ?close reading and explication? skills to advance an argument on any two of the works we have read.

2. Write an essay comparing and contrasting the poems of three of the following poets: Phillis Wheatley, Frances Harper, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Monroe Whitfield. Consider the following as you write your paper: How do the authors handle the same theme and what differences do you see in their treatment of the theme? What might account for these differences? Is deliverance from slavery, freedom, and/or religion central to any of the poems? Consider differences and similarities in form (rhythm/rhyme/diction/structure) and in content (imagery/images of blacks/message or story/tone/topic) in relation to the poets. If you choose this topic, do not try to cover too many poems. Look at a few and do so very closely. Focus, focus, focus!

3. Compare Solomon Northrop?s 1853 slave narrative, 12 Years a Slave (in the course eReadings), with the 2013 film adaptation of the narrative, starring Lupita Nyong?o and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Steve McQueen. Which version do you find more effective as a work of art? Why? As you ponder the effectiveness question, consider the extent to which the two versions illustrate the manner in which violence becomes normalized. Are there relevant features of the slave narrative missing from the film? Either explicitly or implicitly, how do the slaves protest their captivity?

4. Carry out a comparative discussion of at least two major authors (at least one of which we read during the course), demonstrating how, in their writings, they have been influenced by certain artistic theories, experiences, movements, or historical events, and/or how they have participated in certain political or artistic movements. Make sure that you provide a careful reading of the literature to support your thesis and that you do not merely recapitulate well-known biographical information.

If you focus on a poet, you must refer to at least four of his or her poems.

5. Use the readings in the Course eReadings (Dred Scott v. Sanford, etc.) and your own research to write an informative essay on ?Nineteenth Century Court Decisions that Affected African Americans.?

6. Visit a website on Dunbar and one on Charles W. Chesnutt. Locate one story by each writer, and compare and contrast the two stories. Your essay will likely be enriched by reading and referring to discussions and examples of the trickster figure.

Acknowledge all sources of information by citing author and page number (or author, Web address, and date) in parentheses, using the MLA standard. Also use the MLA format to indicate your Works Cited at the end of your work.

This project carries 25 points. Points will be awarded based on organization, research, content, and grammar.

In this paper, you will need to state your focused main thesis (controlling idea) clearly up front, and then use the literature you have chosen to support your argument. You will need to quote relevant passages from the literature to support your argument. Also, in order to enrich your paper, you should cite and frame three outside sources, quoting them directly, not just summarizing or paraphrasing them. Do not use general reference works like encyclopedias, Cliff’s Notes, Monarch Notes, or other such study aids.

Due Date: Sunday 4 December at 11:59 PM Eastern time.

Annotated Bibliography

For each of the three sources on your Works Cited page, write one paragraph (three to five sentences) that both describes and evaluates the content of the document. For each article, you should summarize the main argument and explain how it is or is not useful for people writing essays on your selected literary work. An annotation should indicate the thesis and focus of the article, as well as the author’s major arguments and conclusions. For more information on creating annotations, see Annotated Bibliographies ( from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Grading Criteria

Minimum number of sources are included

Sources are professional or scholarly

Works Cited list uses correct MLA style throughout the document, both in formatting (spacing, justification, etc.) and in type and order of information provided

Each annotation has most or all of the following characteristics:

–summarizes and evaluates the content

–identifies the main argument, points, and/or purpose of the work

–considers the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work, both in terms of the topic discussed in the article and your own research project

–identifies a particular point of view, perspective, or bias from which the work was written

–possibly draws comparisons between sources in the reference list; annotations can establish connections to other aspects of the same argument or opposing views

Sample Annotated Entries

Crisman, William. “‘Now Misery Has Come’: Sibling Rivalry in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Studies in Romanticism. 36 (1997): 27-41. WilsonSelectPlus. UMUC’s Information and Library Services. 23 Sept. 2005.

This article stresses an aspect of Victor’s family that has been overlooked by other critics: sibling rivalry. He explains that the IMPORTANCE of sibling rivalry should not be overlooked, because Shelley, in younger years, faced sibling rivalry, and the murder of siblings or sibling-like characters plays a huge role in the story plot. This article would be useful for someone writing a paper on Frankenstein as long as her focus was on sibling rivalry; otherwise, it wouldn’t be of any use. Since this is a rare topic of discussion as it pertains to the novel Frankenstein, it may be difficult to find more corroborating evidence.