Comparing & Contrasting American Literature Readings: Essay Prompts

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Learning how to compare and contrast works from different periods is an important aspect of literary analysis. This lesson gives you a chance to put what you learned in English 102 to the test.

Now that you've completed the lessons in your course, use the exercises shown here to practice applying your new-found knowledge. This is not a mandatory part of your coursework, but is useful practice.

Why Comparison and Contrast Matters

Now that you have finished your work as an English 102 student, you might be interested in practicing your skills as a literary analyst. There are a lot of different ways you can think about literature. Looking within specific texts at the use of literary tools and devices is important, as is analyzing author's purposes, themes, and implications. Another important way to think about literature is comparing and contrasting different works and works from different periods. When you engage in comparing and contrasting, you become better equipped to stipulate just what is unique about each literary work and also what unifies works from specific time periods. Comparing and contrasting can help you synthesize your own perspective on literature, and it can bring you closer to the ideas, language, and literary techniques of specific authors.

This lesson offers you a series of prompts for writing compare and contrast essays based on American literature. Use examples from the specific works you read in English 102 to help you complete these questions.

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