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Critical Think

1. Many works of early American literature deal with the theme of perseverance of an individual. Discuss how you see the theme of perseverance and how it is important to the literary text as a whole by choosing one of the following: John Smith’s The General HistoryThe Third Book, “Chapter II”; the assigned selections from Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration; the assigned selections from Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography; or, “Chapters 2, 3, and 7” of Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative.

2. Early colonial writers often had different perspective on the “New World” and its inhabitants. Compare and contrate two of the following three colonial perspectives: John Smith’s The General History, “The Third Book”, “Chapter II”; William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I, “Chapter IX”; and Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan, “Chapters IV, XV, XIV, and XV.”

3. Many of the works we have read include references to biblical scripture. Discuss the role that biblical scripture plays in the overall narrative or poem of two-three authors we have covered.

4. Based on your reading of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur’s “What Is an American?” and Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis,” discuss how those works helped create the ideals of the emerging American republic.

5. The first four weeks of the course had the general theme of literature as history of early America. Explain how you understand that theme by discussing three different texts from the first four weeks of the course.

6. Compare and contrast the poems of Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley by writing about one assigned poem for each.

7. American Romanticism often involves stories and poems that connect the fantastical or the supernatural to the struggles of an individual character. Discuss how you see the importance of the fantastical or the supernatural to the events of the story or poem in Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” or Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

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