American Protest Literature Assignment | Top Universities

This assignment requires students to further research one of the topics covered during the semester and write an essay arguing a particular interpretation of the literature surrounding that issue and social movement. Please see the attached document for details and guidelines on this assignment.

American Protest Literature – Literary Analysis Argument Essay  

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Assignment Description

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Whether it looks backward in order to move America forward, builds connections across movements, demands empathy from readers, transforms its creators, crafts a politics of form, appropriates the master’s tools, or makes words into weapons, American protest literature tries to remake “a world beautiful,” as London puts it. The protest cycle beats on, boats against the current. 

– Zoe Trodd xxviii

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Trodd’s anthology American Protest Literature sets a variety of texts and protest art forms in conversation with each other. She describes these as falling into several “politics” for change. These are:

  • The Politics of Connection
  • The Politics of Form
  • The Politics of Appropriation
  • The Politics of Memory

 For this project, you will write a four-to-five-page essay that analyzes and interprets four works and finds a unifying theme among them. You may use writings from the textbook itself (whether they were among the selected course readings or not) or you may explore other outside texts provided they are published sources that were written or created as a part of the social movements studied in the course. You will need at least five total sources of outside research for your essay documented in your Works Cited page. 

You may do this assignment one of two ways:

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  1. You may choose a social movement and describe how each of the four works you select contributes to the movement using the “politics” Zoe Trodd explains in her introduction to the text. How does each depict aspects of the movement and what strategies, tactics, or techniques does it use to influence the movement for change? Analyze and interpret each work using key quotes, paraphrases, and summaries as you compare it to the other works and how each contributes to the literature of protest within that movement.
  2. Choose at least four pieces of protest literature from the entire range of movements in the course, or you may introduce texts you have researched that also contributed to these historical social movements. Find a unifying “politic” or strategy (for example: politics of memory or form) for all of them and discuss how that strategy or tactic uniquely contributed to the individual movements for which they were created. How does their unifying technique contribute to the body of protest literature that brought social change? Analyze and interpret each work using key quotes, paraphrases, and summaries as you compare it to the other works and how each contributes to the literature of protest within that movement.

 Your work is to interpret the works to find unifying themes or tactics among them and then argue for their unique contribution to their related social movement. Do not focus too much on summarizing; instead, interpret and explain to your reader how the strategies are expressed in the work and how the works intersect with one another. Bring Trodd’s “politics” to the surface through your interpretation of each work.

 Use textual evidence to back up your analysis and support your thesis statement. However, don’t list an entire stanza or paragraph and then explain its meaning. Instead, break down large chunks of text into small pieces and explain what the words mean in relation to your claim. Compare words, actions, or ideas from each work to the other to illuminate how they connect and promote the movement or movements you choose throughout. Look for patterns or symbols to help you decide on an interpretation. Also, consider language or context. For help with ways to begin your analysis, see the handouts on eCampus entitled “How to Analyze Poetry and Songs” and “Ten Tips for a Successful Literary Analysis.”

 When writing, focus on the TELL, SHOW, SHARE method for paragraph development. First, TELL the reader what your argument is, your thesis or topic sentences. Then, SHOW the reader your evidence. Evidence begins with text from the works; it might also include the author’s biography or historical context. Finally, SHARE and explain what it means. Share something significant about your findings. Explain the “So what? Who cares?” aspect of the section you are writing about. How does it relate to the larger social movement and to the “politics” Trodd suggests thrive in protest literature? Why does it matter?

Minimum Requirements

Length: Four-to-five pages, 1,200-1,500 words, not including the Works Cited page.

Style: Essay needs to conform to MLA standards, including double spacing in Times New Roman font, and must include a Works Cited page with correct in-text (parenthetical) citations for all quotes, paraphrases, and/or summaries.

Sources: 5 (five) sources minimum. Works may be from our readings and credible academic outside sources.



First Draft/Peer Review One: One typed working draft to your small group –

Purpose and Learning Objectives

The purpose of this assignment is to bring everything we have worked on over the course of the semester together. These skills you will use in your college career and into your chosen jobs. Writing, research, and eloquent written expression are vital for a successful future. You will express these in this assignment.

Your literary analysis should demonstrate the following learning objectives:

  • Ability to recognize themes and connections across genres of literature
  • Ability to think critically and analyze
  • Ability to use analysis to form an interpretation
  • Ability to integrate and synthesize sources
  • Ability to craft an argument with different types of relevant, credible, and detailed support
  • Ability to research and identify academic sources
  • Ability to summarize, paraphrase, and quote
  • Ability to cite correctly in MLA to avoid plagiarism

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Process of Completion

  1. Choose an organizing idea and select four works to explore and that exemplify your concept.  
  2. Carefully Reread or review the stories, poems, or essays you will use and make notes and annotations.
  3. Then read over this assignment carefully before beginning!
  4. Complete the proposal and outline as assigned in the Unit Assignments
  5. For more information and help with close readings visit Purdue OWL Draw connections between each work to show how they are similar and how they support your central thesis and claim. Is a similar technique used, for example appropriation?
  6. Come up with a thesis that represents your theme and claim. See Purdue OWL’s link on literary analysis thesis statements for more help Remember that a thesis is not a question, your personal opinion, your personal belief (like religion), or a fact (like a summary of the action/plot).
  7. Create an outline to help organize your ideas. See the handout in English Corner Handouts “Creating an Outline” for more help.
  8. Pick out the quotes or sections of the works that you want to use in your essay. See handouts on eCampus for more help with integrating your quotes and sources.
  9. Write your rough draft using the Tell, Show, Share Method of paragraph development. See handout on “The Tell, Show, Share Method” in Handouts for more help. 
  10. You may request tutoring assistance through the English Corner in revising or expanding your ideas.
  11. Participate in your small group peer reviews by posting your draft and peer feedback. Review carefully your peers’ comments and your instructor’s.
  12. Edit and revise your essays based on the feedback you receive.
  13. Reread your essay one last time, perhaps out loud, and make any final edits or changes before turning in your final! Get English homework help today



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