American novels, american themes



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AMERICAN NOVELS, AMERICAN THEMES

Our Guiding Unit Questions:

  1. Why is THE GREAT GATSBY considered the “Great American Novel” by so many Critics, scholars and readers?

  2. What makes a novel great?

  3. Are there themes unique to American authors and novels?

Success Criteria:

Common Core State Standard Reading 6: Determine an author’s POV and assess how it shapes a story.

Common Core State Standard Reading 9: Compare and contrast two texts.

Common Core State Standard Writing 2: Write to convey complex ideas and support with the most

significant and relevant evidence; develop topic thoroughly.

Common Core State Standard Writing 3: Provide conclusions over the course of an extended text.


Read:

  1. THE GREAT GATSBY – Done!

  2. A Second Choice Novel read with a partner or in a group: THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, A LESSON BEFORE DYING, THE OXBOW INCIDENT, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or another classic American novel with similar themes that you may propose.


Write:

  1. A Literary Essay related to our Guiding Questions and Success Criteria

    1. Compare/Contrast essay dealing with the two novels you read, focusing on characters, themes, author point of view or author technique.

    2. Author Biography essay – Analyzing the relationship between the authors and their fiction.

    3. American Themes: Research the history of themes and issues in 20th century American novels.



  1. A Research Paper

    1. Illuminates an author’s biography and influences

    2. Explores an historical era or a topic related to an historical setting, theme, event or a cultural or political issue.

    3. American Themes: Research the history of themes and issues in 20th century American novels (notice that this is also an option for a literary essay; it will depend on how you focus your writing).

Please Note: Both options will require research, analysis and the use of MLA formatting.

Name________________________________



AMERICAN NOVELS, AMERICAN THEMES

LITERARY ESSAY

Directions:
You have a choice to either write an essay in answer to one of our guiding questions for this unit, “Are there themes particular to American novels and novelists?” or you may choose to fulfill one of your Culminating Project requirements and write a research paper related to the novels you have read for this unit.

Use the LITERARY ESSAY GRADE SHEET (saved in the S-drive OUT box) as a reference to check requirements and guide your writing for your literary essay. You will have class time to confer with your reading partners to discuss, compare notes and find themes and evidence for each of your books, however, your essay or paper is an independent writing assignment. Partners/Group Members do not need to choose the same writing option, nor the same themes, guiding thesis, or Essential Question for their respective papers. Your partners will help you with conferences, peer critiques and final peer edit.



For writing and thesis help, refer to WRITE SOURCE (particularly, pages 315-322 and 592-597), and there are more essay help documents in the S-drive OUT box.
I. LITERARY ESSAY OPTIONS:

    1. Compare/Contrast Essay (Two Options):

      1. Parallel themes: Choose a theme you have been following in THE GREAT GATSBY and find its parallel in the second novel you chose to read. Choose one major theme that is clearly present in both books. Develop your essential question (and thesis) around the comparison or contrast and use text evidence from both novels to show how each author treats this universal theme.

      2. Author Craft. Compare and Contrast the literary styles and techniques of your two authors. You may choose their use of language, literary devices (such as metaphor or allusion), how each author reflects his or her major themes, establishes setting, develops scenes and/or advances action, establishes character, reveals tone or point of view, or in some other way, compare and contrast the writing styles and techniques of the two authors you have read. This is a broad, open-ended topic, so your first job is to find a specific emphasis for what aspect of the authors’ craft you want to use as your focus.



    1. American Themes: Focus on the themes and issues in your two novels that relate to American prosperity and success. Several of the themes you identified in THE GREAT GATSBY had to do with wealth, power and who had access to the good life. Chart and explore the definition of success in America as it is revealed in each novel. Use your evidence to describe the worlds of these two novels and the how the characters strive, succeed or fail to realize their dreams. Your research for this essay will focus on literary criticism from both the time the novels were written and current scholarship and/or evaluation of the books.




    1. Author Biography Essay:

      1. Analyze the Connections between your authors and their fictional works. The purpose of an author biography essay will be to examine and analyze your two chosen novels in the context of the authors’ lives and the times they lived. You will use your novel evidence to illuminate the author’s biographies, passions or obsessions. The research for this kind of literary essay will naturally focus on the authors’ biographies, but will also include some literary criticism.


II. Essay Organization and Requirements:
Part One, Your Essential Question, Thesis and Introduction:

  1. Choose one of the options above and create an essential question that you will answer in your essay.

    1. Choose themes, details or author techniques that appear throughout the novels.

    2. Choose theme that also gives you sound text evidence from various sections of both novels to answer your question.

    3. You do not have to do both compare and contrast, though you may.

      1. You may emphasize either the comparisons or the contrasts between the two novels, and include its opposite for transitions – For example, if your are comparing themes; include a minor contrast as a transition.

    4. Your Essential Question is open-ended and suggests exploration, not argument. It is not a yes or no question that you must address with a definitive answer.

  2. Write a thesis statement that focuses your essay and addresses your Essential Question. This complex sentence clearly focuses your essay. (WRITE SOURCE, pages 285, 319 and 592). Online, Purdue OWL is a great resource, and there are other resources in the S-drive Outbox – Your thesis is a complex sentence that may be a claim (something you set out to prove), or it may be more subtle, a nuanced statement that implies a complex exploration of your topic or theme.

    1. Your thesis statement is the answer to your essential question.

    2. Your thesis statement is nuanced, complex and clearly guides your essay.

    3. You may choose to include your main points in your thesis statement (a blueprint; remember Mr. Murphy’s class! :-), though this is not required.

  3. Write an introductory paragraph that introduces the novels, your themes or focus and contains your thesis This is usually 4-6 sentences (WRITE SOURCE, pages 593-594). However, your hook may make this a longer paragraph or result in having your thesis presented in a second paragraph.



Part Two, Supporting Paragraphs (WRITE SOURCE, pages 578-579):

  1. First, decide on your structure and organization – Will you organize your information in alternating paragraphs where each paragraph deals exclusively with a single novel, or do you want to explore a feature or theme of both books and discuss them together, using evidence from both novels in the same paragraph? The only expectation here is that you are consistent.

  2. All body paragraphs are fully developed with both evidence and commentary to discuss and analyze points that support your thesis and answer the essential question of your essay.

  3. All body paragraphs that include:

    1. Effective Topic Sentences

    2. Transitions (WRITE SOURCE, pages 595-596)

      1. Take reader from one idea to the next

      2. Are used to introduce all evidence

    3. Text Evidence from the novels:

      1. Direct Quotations

      2. Plot and character details

      3. Examples showing on-going theme

    4. Text evidence from your critical commentary sources

      1. literary essays and criticism.

      2. Author biographies

      3. Other contemporary or thematic literature (perhaps you’ve read a third novel that is contemporary to THE GREAT GATSBY or your second novel – short stories – that can illuminate your discussion).

    5. Elaboration:

      1. Explanation and thorough Analysis of each piece of text evidence.

  4. In-text citations that follow MLA format.

  5. Concluding sentence returns the reader to your theme and sets us up for your next paragraph.


Part Three: Concluding Paragraph (WRITE SOURCE, pages 112 and 597).

  1. Four to Six sentences long (usually).

  2. Re-states essential question and thesis.

    1. Briefly re-introduces both novels and authors

    2. Leaves the reader with a thoughtful conclusion, presents a final provocative quote that shows the truth of the thesis, or introduces a related idea or question that expands our thinking about the novel, the chosen theme or the authors.



Part Four: Bibliography (WRITE SOURCE, pages 429-436, and many online sources).

  1. MLA formatted works-cited page.

  2. A separate page, or pages.


Requirements:

  1. At least Two Complete Drafts

  2. 4-6 full pages, exclusive of bibliography, eight pages, maximum.

  3. At least six direct quotations from each novel, and quotations from at least two pieces of literary criticism, plus other research, novel and/or film details (Perhaps you’ve read a third novel that is contemporary to THE GREAT GATSBY or your second novel or includes details that can relate to or illuminate your question and thesis).

  4. At least Two Peer Critiques.

  5. One final edit

  6. Final, Error Free copy is typed, printed and also saved in S-drive, GATSBY FINAL WRITING folder

  7. Turned in as a packet

    • Final Typed Error Free Copy on TOP

    • Grade sheet, drafts and peer edit included


This Essay/Research Paper is a major assignment for first semester.

January Deadline: ______________________

Name________________________________



AMERICAN NOVELS, AMERICAN THEMES

RESEARCH PAPER

You have a choice to either write an essay in answer to one of our guiding questions for this unit, “Are there themes particular to American novels and novelists?” or you may choose to fulfill one of your Culminating Project requirements and write a research paper related to the novels you have read for this unit.

Use the RESEARCH PAPER GRADE SHEET (saved in the S-drive OUT box) as a reference to check requirements and guide your writing for your research paper. You will have class time to confer with your reading partners to discuss, compare notes and find themes and evidence for each of your books, however, your essay or paper is an independent writing assignment. Partners/Group Members do not need to choose the same writing option, nor the same themes, guiding thesis, or essential question for this assignment. Your partners will help you with conferences, peer critiques and final peer edit.

For help with writing research papers, look at the WRITE SOURCE handbook, pages 383-416. For other writing and thesis help, refer to WRITE SOURCE pages 315-322 and 592-597). Online, Purdue OWL is a great resource, and there are more essay help documents in the S-drive OUT box.


I. RESEARCH PAPER OPTIONS:

  1. THE THREAD OF BIOGRAPHY. Research your authors’ biographies to illuminate the influences that shaped his or her writing and explore the connections between their life stories and fiction.

  2. NOVELS IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. Explore the truths, history, culture and the era behind your novels. Choose a research topic that focusses on the time or place each novel is set and explore the era as it is revealed in the stories. You may also explore an historical era or a topic related to a particular historical setting, theme, event or cultural phenomena or political issue from the time of your novel, OR, from the time the novel was written.

  3. THE AMERICAN DREAM/AMERICAN THEMES. Chart and explore the definition of the American Dream as it is revealed in each novel, or research ideas, influences or themes that you think are particular to American writers. If your books take place in two time periods, use may choose to show how America changed from one time period to the next, or to show the changes that took place in people’s access/realization of the dream from one era to the next. Focus your research: Choose one issue, such as race, gender, class or economic stability or wealth, or an important single event that influenced the era, such as Prohibition, or the Stock Market crash, for example.



II. Research Paper Organization and Requirements:
Part One, Your Essential Question, Thesis and Introduction:

  1. Choose one of the options above and create an essential question that you will answer/address in your research paper.

    1. Your essential question is open-ended and suggests exploration, not necessarily argument. This is not a Yes or No question that you must address with a definitive answer.

    2. Choose themes, details or author techniques that appear throughout the novels.

    3. Choose a theme or themes that also gives you sound text evidence from various sections of both novels to answer your question.

    4. You do not have to both compare and contrast, though you may.

    5. You may emphasize either the comparisons or the contrasts between the two novels, and include its opposite for transitions – For example, if your are comparing themes; include a minor contrast as a transition.

  1. Write a thesis statement that focuses your essay and addresses your Essential Question. This complex sentence clearly focuses your essay. (WRITE SOURCE, pages 285, 319 and 592). Online, Purdue OWL is a great resource, and there are other resources in the S-drive Outbox – Your thesis is a complex sentence that may be a claim (something you set out to prove), or it may be more subtle – a nuanced statement that implies a complex exploration of your topic or theme.

    1. Your thesis statement is the answer to your essential question.

    2. Your thesis statement is nuanced, complex and clearly guides your essay.

    3. You may choose to include your main points in your thesis statement (a blueprint; remember Mr. Murphy’s class! :-), though this is not required.

  1. Write an introductory paragraph that introduces the novels, your research focus and contains your thesis This is usually 4-6 sentences (WRITE SOURCE, pages 593-594). However, your hook may make this a longer paragraph or result in having your thesis presented in a second paragraph.


Part Two, Sources and Supporting Research (WRITE SOURCE, pages 578-579):

  1. First, decide on your structure and organization – How will you integrate evidence from the novels into your research?

  1. Sources will include primary historical documents and secondary commentary in the form of secondary source histories and critical essays (See WRITE SOURCE, pages 101 and 227 for some quick reminders).

  2. You may also have evidence from other novels from the time, place or author (perhaps you’ve read a third novel that is contemporary to THE GREAT GATSBY or your second novel, or have read short stories by your author that you can relate to your question and thesis).



  1. All body paragraphs are fully developed with both evidence and commentary to discuss and analyze points that support your thesis and answer the essential question of your research paper.

  2. All body paragraphs include:

    1. Effective Topic Sentences

    2. Transitions (WRITE SOURCE, pages 595-596)

      1. Take reader from one idea to the next

      2. Are used to introduce all evidence

    3. Text Evidence from the novels:

      1. Direct Quotations

      2. Plot and character details

      3. Examples showing on-going theme

    4. Text evidence from your historical sources and critical commentary.

    5. Elaboration:

      1. Explanation and thorough Analysis of each piece of text evidence.

  1. In-text citations.

  2. Concluding sentence returns the reader to your theme and sets us up for your next paragraph.


Part Three: Concluding Paragraph (WRITE SOURCE, pages 112 and 597).

  1. Four to Six sentences long (usually).

  2. Re-states essential question and thesis.

  1. Briefly re-introduces both novels and authors.

  2. Leaves the reader with a thoughtful conclusion, presents a final provocative quote that shows the truth of the thesis, or introduces a related idea that expands our thinking about the novel, the chosen theme or the authors.


Part Four: Bibliography (WRITE SOURCE, pages 429-436, and many online sources).

  1. MLA formatted works-cited page.

  2. A separate page, or pages.


Requirements:

  1. At least Two Complete Drafts

  2. 4-6 full pages, exclusive of bibliography, eight pages, maximum.

  3. At least eight pieces of evidence from a variety of sources, including text evidence from each novel, historical documentation and critical analysis.

  4. At least Two Peer Critiques.

  5. One final edit.

  6. Final, Error Free copy is typed, printed and also saved in S-drive, GATSBY FINAL WRITING folder

  7. Turned in as a packet

    1. Final Typed Error Free Copy on TOP.

    2. Grade sheet, drafts and peer edit included.


This Essay/Research Paper is a major assignment for first semester.

Deadline: ______________________
Themes we’ve been exploring in THE GREAT GATSBY:


  1. Prosperity, Wealth and Power:

    1. The power of money

    2. Money and Class – Old vs. New money

    3. The disparity between the rich and the poor – The rich get richer and the poor get poorer (related to American Dream theme).

    4. Money vs. Value and Worth

    5. Money as a god; the worship of money – A shift of morals in 1920s America.

    6. The ease with which some people were able to get rich – the self-made man and the self-invented man.

  2. Moral Evaluation:

    1. The shift in values in the 1920s - Youth Culture; Money culture

    2. The disillusionment of World War I – “The War to end all wars” and the decay of social values following WWI.

    3. Consequences of a frivolous life style

    4. Prohibition

  3. Love and Loss

    1. Love in the Jazz Age

    2. Love vs. Lust

  4. Illusion vs. Reality

    1. What’s really true?

    2. The power of the will – Creating one’s own biography.

    3. What happens when all dreams are realized?

  5. Time:

    1. Illusion and the loss of illusion over time

    2. Changes over time – Characters’ expectations and distortions of time; wanting to stop time; age vs. maturity

    3. Changes over time – Events; social, political and economic changes

  6. Technical innovation and experimentation in the Twenties.

    1. Optimism of the times.

    2. Speed of technological development

    3. The impact of the automobile on American life

  7. Optimism and Utopia:

    1. Optimism and/or Utopia and the rise of the wealthy class

    2. Optimism and/or Utopia and the development of technology

    3. Optimism and/or Utopia and time in character development

    4. Optimism and/or Utopia and the times (the 1920s in urban America).

    5. Optimism and/or Utopia and the self-made or self-invented man


2017 Writing THE GREAT GATSBY – Word

November 16, 2017


Saved in T-drive / 10-11-12 / THE GREAT GATSBY

Saved in Douglass H-drive and KSD Cloud: !@! ELA 2017-2018

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