Discovery Activity

Discovery Activity, Unit One

Read the prompts and questions below carefully and choose one for your essay response. These questions are meant to inspire your critical thinking about this novel, helping you connect literary theory to the novel. Respond from your own thoughts and experiences, but be sure to make a point and support that point with details and evidence from the text. This project is worth 100 points for this unit, so be thorough and revise for clarity and grammar. Your 3-4 page response should be in MLA style; refer to your Handbook or Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) if you have any questions. This assignment sheet is a model for your format: heading, font, paragraphing, etc. However, your paper will be double-spaced. You do not need to add a Works Cited page; however, please provide the page numbers of your quotes and paraphrases from our text in parenthetical form within your essay, and give the citation information for the textbook at the end. Yes, this means that you need to include quotes and paraphrases from the material we have read to support your thesis. Also, be sure to read “Writing about Literature” under Course Information before you write your essay.

Our first unit deals with “realism, regionalism and naturalism” in the United States in the period following the Civil War, leading up to World War I. This is a time of Reconstruction, Women’s Suffrage, depressions, labor disputes, the Spanish-American War, assassinations and assimilations. Great minds and strong personalities like Karl Marx, P.T. Barnum, Thomas Edison, Booker T. Washington, Buffalo Bill, Jane Addams, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, the Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford brought light and progress and change to the world. Choose one of the following prompts for your response.
Remember to prepare your response in standard essay form with an introduction that leads the reader to your thesis or claim, body paragraphs guided by topic sentences that support your main point with evidence from the text, and a conclusion that goes beyond re-statement of the thesis to explain what you learned in this discovery activity.

1. Women in the late 1800’s had few opportunities to exercise their agency in the public sphere, and are often portrayed as reigning supreme in the private sphere. Re-read “Editha” by William Dean Howells and compare George’s fiancé and his mother. How does each woman perceive the war, and how does each respond to George’s participation and death? Which female character do you think Howells sympathizes with the most? And what do you think he is saying about the role of women in the public sphere? Be sure to make a claim and support that claim with evidence from the text.

Make sure to read Editha by William Dean Howells


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