American Literature Essay Topics: Composing Winning Subjects


In order to develop an award winning American literature essay, selection of a great essay topic holds the key to your chances of getting back home with an award. Therefore, the subject you choose to write on has to be on a break through topic that will make for critical acclaim, help you gain highest grade and you can finally walk away with an award for your achievements in the field of American Literature by soliciting the praise of your professor/ department and academic institution.

Many colleges and schools offer awards for the best performer by providing scholarships for students who come out with excellent literary work/ essay on American Literature.

For selection and writing a great essay on American Literature, you need to have the necessary knowledge of literary works—their authors, important characters, the basic plot, narration style, background setting of the work and the theme that the work follows, etc and highlight your ability to facilitate better understanding and accurate interpretation of the poems and other literary works of native American authors, which may include novels, dramas, biographies, stories, prose both fiction and non-fiction, and other literary works which are categorized based on 5 chronological periods namely:

  • The colonial and early national period from the beginning of evolution of American Literature to 1830
  • The romantic period beginning from 1830 to 1870
  • The period of realism and naturalism from 1870 to 1910
  • The modernist period from 1910 to 1945
  • and lastly the contemporary period from 1945 to the present.

Also, found important is to acquire enough knowledge of the historical and social setup of the works based on the literary traditions and its influence in the authors writing to familiarize with the terms, verses and devices relevant to the works in both formats of prose and poetry.

Some ideas for the selection of exciting and promising topics on American literature, which can create an impact on the evaluator of your essay are:

  • Colonial period
    1. William Byrd II contribution of amusing anecdotes on Virginia
    2. Plantation workers life in colonial America
    3. Jonathan Edwards work based on the epitome of good writing in his sermons
    4. William Bradford’s accounts on the first document of colonial self-government in English
    5. William Bradford’s work which attributes life’s events to the God’s providence

  • Revolutionary Period
    1. Thomas Paine’s analysis of the ideology of American Revolution in his Pamphlet Common Sense
    2. Comparison of the work Common Sense to the Declaration of Independence
    3. Patrick Henry protest against British tyranny to gain support for breaking away from England through his fiery speeches

  • Nationalism and Romanticism
    1. Washington Irving’s idea of using historical events and personalities as the backdrop for his literary work Rip Van Winkle.
    2. Adoption of various literary genres in Washington Irving’s work The Sketch Book
    3. James Fenimore Cooper’s role in sentimentalizing Native Americans in The Last of the Mohicans
    4. James Fenimore Cooper’s heroic tale “The pilot”.

  • American Renaissance 1830-1870
    1. Oliver Wendell Holmes in his work “The last leaf” combines humor with pathos
    2. The poem of James Russell Lowell “The First Snow-Fall” is different from the work of Emerson in “The Snow-Storm”

  • The Rise of Realism 1870-1914
    1. Frederick Douglass in My Bondage and My Freedom, attempts to arouse sympathy, to promote his idea of humanitarianism
    2. Abraham Lincoln’s “First Inaugural Address,” although was unsuccessful in avoiding war, but exhibited in totality his education and humility
    3. Is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain a racist novel?

  • Contemporary American Literature, 1914-to present
    1. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has a universal appeal which primarily deals with contemplation of decisions of life in retrospect
    2. Harper Lee’s adopts the use of a distinct narrative style in “To Kill a Mockingbird which successfully blends innocence with adult insight.

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