Part 1: Read one of the historical novels (written by an American author) from the list below:
The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 2: Write a 3–5-page essay analyzing the work you choose. Analyze the story’s plot in terms of social context. Answer questions like: How is the story
indicative of the time’s major historical events? AND what writing styles, tones, themes are in line with movements of the time period?
· Your essay must adhere to MLA style and formatting guidelines.
· Remember to use proper in-text citations and a correctly formatted works cited page.
· Your essay must contain two to three sources to back up your claims regarding the text. Wikipedia, SparkNotes, and other “short cut” type websites are NOT
valid research sources for this assignment.
· Your essay should be written in third-person point of view.
· Your essay should be written in literary present tense.
Step One: The Novel List You must choose a novel to read from the list provided on the assignment rubric. Each of these books is historical fiction because
they detail important times/events in American history. Step Two: The Analysis As you are reading the novel of your choice, begin thinking about the
historical, social, and cultural context of the writing. Historical context refers to the political and economically conditions occurring at the time the novel was
written or when the story is set. Social context refers to how audiences use and interpret a work of literature; this can refer to how the novel was received
when it was published or how it is received today. Cultural context refers to the religion, social class, education levels, and literary trends during the time a
literary work is written or set. These contexts overlap, too, so you may find yourself writing about all three or just focusing on one idea alone in your paper.
Step Three: The Research Process
The best place to find sources to support your ideas is the American Lit library guide. You can find a link to this guide on the menu bar in Blackboard. The
Librarian Instruction video will also give you valuable insight into finding sources for this essay.
Step Four: Sample Topics Finding or creating a good topic can be hard, so I’ve provided a list of samples for some of the novels for you. If you need
additional help picking a topic, please email me.
-Discuss how the character Uncle Tom embodies the principles of Christianity. Use specific examples from the novel in comparison to religious texts. -In
what ways is The Last of the Mohicans, a great American novel? What foundation makes it stand as such a title in both history and literature?
-Can Hester Prynne be classified/characterized as a feminist before her time? How does the theme of feminism in The Scarlett Letter make the novel both
traditional and revolutionary? -How does Steinbeck’s narrative in The Grapes of Wrath crucially characterize refugees and their reliance on community to not
only survive, but thrive as well? -In what ways does White Noise accurately represent the postmodern American family? Use specific examples from today’s
media that correlate with specific moments in the novel? -Discuss the use of diction and language in the story Their Eyes Were Watching God. Analyze the
dialect in which the book was written as well as how the author used speech to make inferences about how women, specifically African American women,
were treated at the time the story is set.
Please note that you are NOT limited to these topics. These are merely suggestions to give you an idea of what I am looking for in your paper. However, you
are more than welcome to use them.
Step Five: Writing Your Paper in MLA Format Because this is a research paper, you must have at least two sources to back up your analysis. These sources
do not include the novel itself. You are encouraged to use quotes from the novel in your paper, but the book counts as the third source. You must complete a
properly formatted works cited page along with at least one in-text citation per source. Remember that sources support your claims; you aren’t just sticking
random research finding into your paper to fulfill the assignment.