American Literature



A view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the wharf waterfront, and Alcatraz                              (Boeing 314 Clipper, c.1938-1946)  by Unknown

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Assignment Overview

A five-page research paper, plus a Works Cited page (three scholarly sources, minimum). I’d like to leave this assignment open-ended with respect to the reading that you might choose for this essay. Please select one author’s work from the assigned reading (or from within the texts) as a way of viewing California culture, as defined from a period from 1900 to about 1960.

After you’ve selected a work, consider how the author defines and explores a transformational period in California. What aspects might the author suggest about societal and cultural changes? What about the contributions of the state to the U.S. national scene, or how California may be a location that invites new beginnings.

Here are some possibilities:

-California as a point of artistic and literary “arrival” or “departure” (London’s emphasis on landscapes surrounding the state, or as a Californian’s perspective on global interactions).

-travelogues, or a way of experiencing a locale or landscape while “on the road”

-old or new waves of immigration, and the attending cultural concerns

-gender and perspective, related to the California cultural landscape

-views from the natural world (consider London’s wolf-dog perspectives, and/or interactions outside traditional human understandings…other realms of writing.)

-human resilience and expression in the defined spaces imposed by society (interactions between populations, or experiences resulting from legal implications, and/or crime and punishment)

-Other ideas?

Essay Formation…

-Develop a thesis-statement that gives direction and argument. Avoid a synopsis/overview, rather, focus on how the writer arrives at a particular perspective. Draw evidence from the author’s text, and find scholarship that deals directly with your thesis and essay concerns. (Remember that this should all be done from the 3rd person point-ofview.)


The final version of

this essay should be

uploaded to the

Brightspace folder


“Week 13. -ESSAY II-”

by 10 p.m. on Nov. 12




Research Directions…

-Select one work that’s included in The Literature of California (from the 1900s-forward, assigned in class, or others that are included in this volume, and within the timeframe), a chapter from Jack London’s: An American Life, or Baker’s Alcatraz #1259. With this course selection, establish a compelling thesis and formulate an essay that’s supported by at least two additional scholarly sources of your choosing…

-Use proper grammar and the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation method. For more information, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), Writing Commons, or locate an MLA style handbook. Again, these resources are available online, in part, or may be located in handbooks within the MSU library.

Essay Submission Guidelines…

-The finished, submitted essay should be five FULL pages, with the sixth page designated Works Cited, and including the full source entries for your paper.

-Please follow MLA essay format, and source citation guidelines (not APA, Chicago, or another style as this is the Humanities…)

-Use a standard font and type size, for example 11-point Helvetica or Times New Roman

-Upload your final version to “Week 13. -ESSAY II-”


-This essay will be assessed according to the traditional grading scale, “A”-“F”, where 35 possible points corresponds to a specific letter grade.

-Your work will be weighed, based upon the merit of argument, the proper use of grammar, and MLA citation. Remember that this essay, or any for that matter, ought to have a strong thesis that defines and compels a reader to follow a well-structured argument.

Still Have Specific Questions?

-Feel free to contact me via e-mail:

-While I look forward to assisting you with your essay, please understand that I cannot preview the whole of your work before it is submitted, but I can offer specific advice regarding a short passage, or citation example.

Final Words…

-Be certain to forward such questions with enough time so that I may reply and assist you. For example, don’t expect that an e-mail sent to me at 9:45 p.m. on the due date will allow you sufficient time to address an essay concern…

Last Updated on February 10, 2019