English 41: Literatures in English, 1688-1865

Second Essay Assignment

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General Directions

Write a 3-5 page essay on ONE of the following topics that establishes a clear, focused argument and that uses sufficient textual evidence to support that argument. You should format the paper as follows: double-spacing, decent margins, your name and instructor's (and the essay's title) on the first page, and proper numbering of pages. Please use parenthetical citations for all quotations instead of footnotes. That is, put the page number of the quotation in parenthesis following the passage from the literary work.

*If you choose to devise a topic of your own, you must do so in consultation with your instructor.

The essay is due March 20.


1. The relation between sexuality and money is important in Moll Flanders. Discuss this relation by locating two or three key examples in the novel and analyzing them in detail. How does Moll see herself in this connection? What are the broader implications of Defoe's hadling of this theme for understanding the novel's concern with social and economic life during this historical era?

2. Both Charlotte Temple and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl create sentimental readers. Compare how the power of sympathy works to achieve this end in each text. How is sympathy related to larger reevaluations of gender roles? How is this racially complicated in Incidents?

3. Write a paper in which you analyze the persona of the periodical essayist in the Tatler, the Spectator, the Rambler, or the Idler. Which stylistic features strike you as important to the construction of the persona? What kind of reader do Addison, Steele, or Johnson have in mind? How does this kind of writing create a "public" audience?

4. Some feminist critics read "The Rape of the Lock" as an endorsement of feminine passivity and female subordination in marriage. In which ways does the poem sustain and/or resist such a reading? What does the poem suggest about female desire?

5. Consider the comparison between Frederick Douglass' Fourth of July oration and Joel Barlow's "The Hasty Pudding." How does each work analyze, critique and/or reconceive of the American "nation." In which ways may each be considered "Revolutionary" writing?

6. Choose one of the satirical pieces from the syllabus and write an essay that analyzes in detail its rhetorical strategies. Which kinds of moral inversions does the satire create? How does it accomplish its critique? What are the implicit moral norms it imparts to its audience?

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