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American Literature Paper Guidelines

Write a 4-5 page literary interpretation paper, in 12 point standard font with one inch margins, using at least four of the selected readings throughout the semester. You may choose any combination of myths, short stories, plays, or novels within any one or more literary movements that you want. 

You need to come up with a theme related to the class topics of  RACE, GENDER, CLASS, AND THE “AMERICAN DREAM” that you feel exists in all of your chosen works. Trace this theme throughout the works, and very important, have a purpose for doing this.

Also, very important, the vast majority of your paper must be an interpretation of the works, which means I do not want you to simply summarize the events of the myth, short story, or play. I have read all the works, so I know the plot; I want your unique interpretation on what the hidden meanings of the works are.

You also need to include at least two researched literary interpretation sources. You can find these on the online academic journals provided by the UMC library, or you can obtain them from general online sources, as long as I have approved their credibility. I suggest you know your personal interpretations intimately before you start looking at other critics’ interpretations, so that you won’t be swayed by their opinions. 

You should use these interpretations throughout your paper to either support a point that you are making, or to show how a critic’s interpretation is short-sighted, and how yours is superior. These articles will help you understand how an academic literary criticism paper should look, so you can mimic the style for your own paper. 

This is an academic paper, so you must maintain 3rd person throughout the entire paper.

Example: First person – WRONG: I think that Homer’s Odyssey is a great book; I think that the theme of love is very important to this work. I really liked the Odyssey because Odysseus reminds me of a time when I was young and went on vacation. I rented a car…

Third person – RIGHT: The theme of love is central to Homer’s Odyssey because of the following circumstances. The reader is first introduced to Odysseus crying on Calypso’s island; he longs for his home, wife, and son…

You want to only prove your thesis in 3rd person, not offer your personal commentary. Just trace the theme and prove it with direct details from the texts. Look on the syllabus for the due date of the paper.

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