Research Paper Ideas For American Literature

American literature courses tend to be popular with students. They take American literature as a way to learn about history and the fictional stories that were created during historical periods. Many high schools require that students need to take American literature in order to graduate and any college student who wants to major in literature or English needs to take at least one American literature course. This means that students all over the country are in need of good American literature research paper topics.

  • Pick a Time Period
  • When you are assigned a research paper in American literature, you need to know whether you have an open topic or you have to find a topic during a particular literary period. There are significantly different topics for papers about the Puritan period of literature versus the Civil War period or even the Revolutionary period. These time periods had distinctly different literature based on the way of life during those times.

  • Analyze an Author
  • Once you know the requirements for the time period of your topic, you have several options. One of the most interesting options is to look at a piece of literature and the history surrounding the author. You might find out that an author was an avid supporter of the south during the Civil War. You might also find out that an author was a participant during the Boston Tea Party. You just never know what you will find when you begin to dig around in an author’s life and look at what experiences influenced the literature that he or she wrote.

  • Look at the Evolution of Minority Authors
  • Time periods also affected whether or not women and minorities could write. Yes, there were women who wrote during each literary period, but their options were limited. As you move through the literary periods of American literature, the role of minority authors slowly evolves. Tracing the evolution of minority authors is an interesting topic to tackle, especially when you look at the history events that influenced them and limited them, too.

    Top 33 American Literature Term Paper Topics For High School


    The beauty of this list is that there is such a choice of topics. American literature down the centuries has produced some stellar titles with even more recent titles including stage plays as well as novels. The following list is by no means extensive and you can easily locate many more topics especially if you have a favourite author or theme.

    1. Describe the themes of Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner
    2. What do female authors have to say on the African American experience?
    3. The major theme of The Age of Innocence
    4. The failed American dream as seen in Death of a Salesman
    5. The American dream as explained in The Great Gatsby
    6. The role of young adults in The Hunger Games Trilogy
    7. Is As I Lay Dying Faulkner’s most important work?
    8. What are the main themes in The Awakening by Kate Chopin?
    9. How is the Depression depicted in Barn Burning?
    10. How was slavery portrayed in Beloved by Morrison?
    11. What is the main feature of the plot of Billy Budd?
    12. Describe the life of the American Indians as portrayed in Black Elk Speaks
    13. How is racism discussed in Black Like Me?
    14. Note the differences between the book and film of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
    15. How were the wars between settlers and indigenous Americans described in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee?
    16. J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is still popular today. Why?
    17. What is the symbolism in Catcher in the Rye?
    18. What are the good and bad qualities of the sisters in Little Women?
    19. What is the conflict facing Lennie in Of Mice and Men?
    20. What personality clashes occur with Captain Ahab in Moby Dick?
    21. Does Hemingway use the same type of character as the protagonist in The Old Man and the Sea in any of his other works?
    22. How is The Catcher in the Rye a social commentary?
    23. Describe segregation as set out in Coming of Age in Mississippi.
    24. How does The Confidence Man rate amongst all of Melville’s novels?
    25. Can a short story convey as much meaning as a novel? Refer to Crane’s Open Boat in your essay.
    26. How is a simple journey made rich in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry?
    27. Are there any lessons for society today in the trials described in The Crucible?
    28. Describe the black and white conflicts in Deesa Rose.
    29. How do the characters change their status in society in The Diamond Necklace?
    30. How are people connected to one another in The Dogeaters?
    31. People are displaced all over the world. Describe how this happens in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
    32. Describe life for the residents of Starkfield in Ethan Frome.
    33. Why is A Farewell to Arms sometimes called a study of doom?

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