Paper Topics
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    General directions. Following are suggested topics for the paper. I strongly recommend that you choose one of these topics. If you decide on your own topic, you must write it down and submit it to me for approval by Friday, Dec. 11. As these suggested topics demonstrate, your paper should discuss both thematic and formal aspects of the text(s).

1.  Do a close reading of any Dickinson poem in the anthology (an assigned one or another). Your explication should discuss both the style and the content of the poem, that is, its meanings or possible meanings, and how Dickinsons' language operates. Issues you might consider include: imagery, metaphor and simile, symbol, persona (speaker), ambiguity (for example, of pronouns), contradictions, meter, rhyme (or slant rhyme), repetition, alliteration.

2.   Do a close reading of one paragraph (numbered section) of Whitman's "Song of Myself." Focus on the role this paragraph plays in the poem, its overall structure, imagery, style (word choice, repetition, balance, rhetorical gestures, meter), persona ("I"/."me"/ "Myself").

3.  Do a close reading of any chapter of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. After introducing the chapter and its general role in the novel, your essay should include several paragraphs analyzing the following elements of the chapter: dramatic situation (motivations of various characters and how these motivations conflict or interact); structure (order of events); image patterns (including types and symbols); supernatural devices; narrator's commentary. 

4.  Choose one major character in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and discuss the narrator's attitude toward that character. To what extent does the narrator judge or evaluate the character's thoughts and actions, and to what extent does he sympathize with him or her? 

5.  Compare and contrast the "transparent eyeball" passage of Emerson's Nature to Paragraph 5 of Whitman's "Song of Myself" as experiences of spiritual transcendence through the natural world.

6.  Evaluate Thoreau's experience of nature in "The Ponds" of Walden according to Emersonís discussion of nature's influence on the mind in "The American Scholar" (468-69).

7.  Evaluate the role of nature in Chapters XIV, XV, and XVI of The Scarlet Letter to that expressed in Emerson's Nature and "The American Scholar." To what extent does Hawthorne's text demonstrate the ideas of Emerson's transcendentalism? How does it contradict Emerson's views?

8.  Write an essay about Ginsberg's use of Whitman in his poem "A Supermarket in California." Does Whitman's poetry encourage and sanction such a contemporary reincarnation of the poet? What qualities of Ginsberg's Whitman correspond with the "self" in Whitman's poetry? How does Ginsberg's poem make us see Whitman's self in a different context and a different light?

9.  Write an essay about how the imagery of Freeman's "A New England Nun" conveys the conflict of the central character Louisa Ellis. As a realist work, this story contains many precise descriptions of people, places, and things through which the reader can sense Louisa's apprehensions about married life and preference for a single life. The work also contains metaphors (for example, that of the path [1555], the string of pearls and the nun [1560]) that serve as points of comparison to things actually present in the story. Discuss how these different levels of imagery serve Freeman's artistic purpose.

10.  How does Crane employ metaphorical language in "The Open Boat" to convey the absurdity of the characters' predicament? 

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