Social Change Essay

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Literature for Social Change: The American Literature Research Project Spring 2011 Literature serves many purposes. For most, it is simply a form of entertainment: a means of escape, fantasy, and release. However, for many authors and scholars, the purpose of literature is to challenge its readers, to create change, and to provide commentary on the injustices of our world. This year, we studied (and continue to study) literature that forces its reader to question unjust standards and practices of American society. For instance, through the play The Crucible, Arthur Miller questions the unfair practices of authority and justice, as well as the moral issues of religion, greed, and self-preservation. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne pushes his audience to critique the hypocrisy of religious communities. Furthermore, Twain challenges American society on issues of race, class, and morality in his novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For this research assignment, you will choose a piece of fiction written by an American author whose themes act as social commentary about controversial topics (e.g. racism). From there, you will keep the original topic of social discourse (racism), and find a second text and author who explores this idea in his own writing. Your paper will analyze and compare the ways in which these authors approach the flaws in society they wish to see changed (For example, after reading Miller’s play, you could compare his focus of religion to Hawthorne’s). RESEARCH PROJECT PROMPT: Compare two American authors whose literary works focus on the same, or similar, topics of social commentary (see list). How do authors successfully use the genre of fiction to analyze, evaluate, question, and mock their society? How do the characters, themes, symbols, motifs, (other literary devices), and events of fictional narratives provide

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