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English 2013: Introduction to American Literature
Research Report Topics and Instructions


Write a research report of 500-750 words on an approved topic. Your report should use MLA documentation style and cite at least three separate sources. Your report does not have to argue an analytic thesis. Your purpose is simply to present information clearly.


Review the list of topics below to see what is available. Send me an Email cbrucker@atu.edu in which you list your top three choices. I am going to let three people write about the same topic. I'll assign you to the highest choice that is still available.

Researching Your Topic

Once your topic is assigned, begin to gather information. You are required to use information from at least three sources. If you use Internet sources, be sure to copy down all of the information you will need when citing the source in your paper: the author or authoring organization, the title of the page, the title of site of which the page is a part, the date on which you accessed the page, the page complete URL (its Internet address). If you are taking notes from a printed source, remember to record author, title, publisher, place and date of publication, as well as the page number(s) from which you get specific information.

Click here for instructions for Guidelines for Conducting Research.


Click here to read three research papers that were written in this course:

  1. "The Political Principles of Thoreau"
  2. "Kate Chopin: Unconventional Writer"
  3. "Marriage in Puritan America"


Plagiarism, passing off someone else's work as your own, is a serious error that must be avoided. Your report will be submitted through Turnitin.com where it will be checked against a database of sources. A plagiarized report may receive a zero for the assignment.

Many people do not realize that copying even a few words or a distinctive phrase from a source is considered plagiarism.Developing good research methods and carefully documenting your information can prevent you from unintentionally plagiarizing your sources.

Writing the Report

Your report should be double-spaced. Use MLA documentation style. You will have parenthetical in-text citations to at least three separate sources and those sources will be listed alphabetically on the Works Cited list at the end of your paper. Refer to your freshman composition handbook for the specifics of formatting Works Cited entries.
The Guidelines for Conducting Research that is included here May provide all the help that you need.

Be careful to proofread your report thoroughly. Grammatical and mechanical errors should be avoided. If you need some help, contact me. During the fall or spring semester you can stop by the Writing Center in WPN 365 during its hours of operation or make use of the Online Writing Lab.

At minimum, be sure that your Work Cited list

(1) is alphabetized by the author's last name or title that starts the entry:
(2) includes only sources that are cited in the text of your report:
(3) is overhung so that the name or title by which it is alphabetized stands out on the left margin.

Be sure that your in-text parenthetical citations:

(1) use the name or title by which the full source entry is alphabetized on your Works Cited list
(2) have Works Cited entries to which they refer
(3) are placed after the quotation or information from the reference.

Submitting the Report

When you have comnpleted your research report select the Submit Papers button on the left side of this course's main page and follow the instructions to upload your report. Note that your report will be automatically sent to Turnitin.com to check for similarities with other sources, so be sure that you are not using other people's words as though they are your own.

List of Topics


Assigned Student(s)


Stephen Crane and Literary Naturalism



T. S. Eliot and Literary Modernism


Colonel Robert Gould Shaw -- the white commander of the black 54th Massachusetts regiment who is memorialized in Lowell's "For the Union Dead."

Kevin Patterson


Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Movement

The Free-Soil Movement in Nineteenth-Century America [As Editor of the Evening Post William Cullen Bryant was an important supporter.]  
Stephen Crane's Career as a War Correspondent  
yes Edgar Allan Poe's Marriage to Virginia Clemm


yes Thomas Morton's Conflict with the Puritans
[Referenced in Hawthorne's "May-Pole of Merrymount" and in Jonathan Edwards' Of Plymouth Plantation pp. 102-105]

Women's Place in Puritan America
[Anne Bradstreet]

Grace Nicholson

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Friendship with President Franklin Pierce


Thoreau's Opposition to the Mexican War


Frances Wright.
[The deistic novel A Few Days in Athens written by this early feminist and free-thinker was one of Walt Whitman's childhood favorites.]


Ralph Waldo Emerson's Career as a Preacher (1826-1832)


Lyceums in Nineteenth Century America
[Emerson was popular on the public-lecture circuit.]

James Fenimore Cooper's Bread and Cheese Club [William Cullen Bryant was a member.]  

Margaret Fuller's View of Women in Nineteenth Century America

Kate Odem
Margaret Fuller's Death Searira Chavis

Thoreau's Friendship with Emerson

Kirsyn Myers

Banned in Boston: the Censorship of Whitman's Leaves of Grass

 Tawni Bacorn     

Walt Whitman's Service During the Civil War

Katelyn Eblen


William Cullen Bryant's Political Views


Nineteenth Century American Slave Narratives

Rachel Jones

Scrivening in Nineteenth Century American Offices

yes William Dean Howells and American Literary Realism  

The Tombs
[New York City prison mentioned in Melville's story "Bartleby"]


Emily Dickinson's Religious Beliefs

Madison Cowell 
Haley Webb      

Newspapers and the Spanish-American War
[Crane's "The Open Boat" is based on his experience of the explosion of a ship smuggling munitions to Cuban rebels before the war. Howells "Editha" is about the mother and girlfriend of a man killed in the war.]


American Labor Movement in the Nineteenth Century
[Davis' "Life in the Iron Mills" describes conditions that led to the development of the American labor movement in the late nineteenth century.]


Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98

Lauren Littleton
Olivia Lawton

Claude McKay and the Race Riots of 1919
["If We Must Die"]

Brooklyn Haney



Lynching in the Twentieth-Century South
[Baldwin's "Going to Meet the Man" and McKay's "Lynching"]


W. E. B. DuBois
[A reference to this famous black leader is made in Michael Harper's "Deathwatch."]


Robert Frost's Years in England

Kaytlyn Myers

Carl Sandburg's Political Beliefs

Chinese Immigration to the United States [Maxine Hong Kingston's and Li-Young Lee's parents immigrated fromn China]  

B-17 and B-24 Bombers in World War II
[Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner"]

Emiliano Torres
Jonathan Murphy

Robert Frost's Career as a Creative Writing Professor

no Sylvia Plath's Suicide Courtney Moore
Cassidy Freeman
Rian Kearney
Edward Estlin Cumming's World War I Imprisonment in France  
Marriage in Puritan America  
yes Dr. S. Weir Mitchell [A version of the "rest cure" he advocated is portrayed in "The Yellow Wallpaper"]  
T.S. Eliot's decision to emigrate to England  
Southern slave codes and black codes in the 19th century Kiaja Davis
Ambrose Bierce's mysterious disappearance/death [The film Old Gringo gives a fictionalized account.]  
"Boston" marriages [Sarah Orne Jewett]  
America's literary expatriates in the 1920's ["Babylon Revisited']  
Allen Ginsberg's political activism Anna Shepherd
The persecution of British sympathizers (Tories) during the American Revolution. [Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineaux"]  
The popularity and influence of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.  
Changing Divorce rates in the United States from 1950 to the Present [Updike's "Separating" and Cheever's "The Swimmer"]  
T.S. Eliot's emigration to England
American Pacifism
[The mother of the dead soldier in "Editha" expresses pacifist views that were not uncommon in the nineteenth century.]

updated September 23, 2022