Choose one of the following paper topics to discuss in a two to four page paper

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  • Identify key ideas, representative authors and works, significant historical or cultural events, and characteristic perspectives or attitudes expressed in the literature of different periods or regions. (SLO 1)
  • Analyze literary works as expressions of individual or communal values within the social, political, cultural, or religious contexts of different literary periods. (SLO 2)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the development of characteristic forms or styles of expression during different historical periods or in different regions. (SLO 3)
  • Articulate the aesthetic principles that guide the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities. (SLO 4)
  • Write research-based critical papers about the assigned readings in clear and grammatically correct prose, using various critical approaches to literature. (SLO 5)

An opinion paper, by definition, is a paper that expresses your opinion alone; that is, it does not incorporate any outside sources or secondary material. It uses your opinion and the primary text(s) to support your argument. With that said, using your opinion does not mean you ignore the conventions of formal writing. You still want to avoid the first and second person perspectives (meaning no “I” and “you” or any associated pronouns – “me,” “my,” “your,” etc.) in this essay and write in the present tense when writing about literature.

Choose one of the following paper topics to discuss in a two to four page paper. Do not go to outside secondary sources for this assignment. Use only your knowledge and opinion and the primary text (the essay, story, poem in your anthology) for support. Utilize proper MLA formatting guidelines, including double-spacing your document and utilizing a creative title.

The prompts are available below:

  • The names of some of the characters in James’ novella Daisy Miller: A Study are suggestive—Winterbourne, Daisy, Costello. What shading do these names give to the story? Doe they enhance the realism in some ways? Do they turn the story into a fable? Argue that these names—and their implications and influence on the story—either do or do not belong in a work of realistic fiction.
  • On the surface, two selections by Mark Twain—“Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” and “The War Prayer”—appear to be exact opposites in topic, depth, and severity. However, upon closer examination, one could argue both are cautionary tales. Compare the stories and present an argument that suggests the overall purpose of the stories is the same, despite the different tones and subject matter.
  • Review the notes provided for the three Emily Dickinson poems assigned in class. Then, choose two to three of her other poems (you can find these online or in your book) and analyze them in the same fashion. You should look at each poem line by line in an attempt to understand the purpose and meaning behind each.
  • Consider either of the assigned stories by Ambrose Bierce and imagine it as a visual work of art. Then, compare the techniques Bierce employs in presenting details and painting a picture with words to the works of French Impressionism artists, such as Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Cassatt, or Hassam (choose a painting or two as foundation for your discussion). Focus your comparison on the use of detail and blurriness to achieve the desired effect on the audience.

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