1. Analyze the literary technique of the unreliable narrator in at least two stories by Edgar Allan Poe. An unreliable narrator in a piece of fiction is a narrator we aren’t sure we can trust to tell us the truth, either because the narrator is lying or because the narrator is incapable of understanding the truth. How do unreliable narrators contribute to the sense of mystery is Poe’s stories? How is the story changed by being told from the point of view of a villain?
2. What’s Stephen King’s explanation for why we crave horror? How can this apply to an Edgar Allan Poe story such as “The Tell Tale Heart”? What are the elements of psychological horror in this story or in other stories by Poe or Irving that could be considered early examples of horror fiction?
3. Pick a poem that you have read for class this semester by Emily Dickinson to explicate (analyze line-by-line). Analyze the meaning of the lines, how they relate to the overall meaning of the poem, and how they relate to what you know about Emily Dickinson and her poetry overall.
4. Explain what transcendentalism is and how you have seen it displayed in the writings of Thoreau and/or Emerson. Why is transcendentalism important to the story of America and its history? What influence did transcendentalists like Thoreau and Emerson have on later movements in American culture?
5. What does Frederick Douglass have to say about the importance of education and the reason slaves were denied education?
6. Why does Harriet Jacobs say that slavery is harder on women than on men? How does Harriet Jacob’s account of slavery demonstrate this belief?
7. Analyze the text of Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and/or his “Second Inaugural Address.” What are the most important concepts in these speeches?
8. Analyze at least one poem by Phillis Wheatley, and compare Wheatley’s writing to later depictions of slavery from writers like Harriet Jacobs and/or Frederick Douglass.