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


  • 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:

  • Consider the women—Desiree, Louise, and Calixta—in Kate Chopin’s stories. Unlike Louise and Calixta, Desiree does not do anything in her story that would jeopardize her honor as an upper-class woman (such as wish her husband dead or have an affair); rather, she is punished for violating a social norm that unfairly and irrationally marked her as unacceptable. Does Chopin consider Desiree to be a different kind of victim of social pressure because of her assumed race, or are all the women she writes about equally oppressed by unrealistic expectations and social structure that deems all of them—regardless of what they do, think, or say—as second-class citizens? Use examples from and references to the text to support your assertions.
  • Because Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-paper” is a story about confinement, madness, and fate, what happens if we compare this story to Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”? Does “The Yellow Wall-paper” rate as a horror story? Through comparison and analysis, argue that, for modern readers, Gilman’s story is actually the more frightening of the two. (*Poe’s story appears on pages 702-714 of our text or can be found online.)
  • Choose a long exposition paragraph from Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and compare it to an expository paragraph from Stephen Crane. Are there similarities in these literary naturalists’ voices? What distinctions can we make about this period and the characteristics that define it by considering two authors’ works side by side?
  • Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” is considered one of the greatest short stories in American literature as well as, perhaps, the greatest naturalistic story. Choose at least three of the characteristics of naturalism that exist within this story, show examples from the text, and explain how they make this a truly fine example of naturalism.