Analyze Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” in light of a contemporary example or figure or incident in the tradition of American civil disobedience.
2) Analyze the persuasive and rhetorical strategies of one of the transcendental pieces (or King’s “Letter”) that we have read. You might look at issues of audience, style, emotional vs./and rational appeal, appeals to history/tradition or rejection of history/tradtion, metaphoric style, tone and so forth. If you deem them successful, why/how do they succeed in arguing their points? What might be points of counterargument or criticism or weaknesses in their approach? Does it work as a piece of argument/writing?
3) Pick one (or several if you feel it’s appropriate) key concepts or quotes from a work (or several works) and discuss the concept/quote in terms of how it has evolved or put it in larger context. How have these words taken form in our laws, practice, literature, or culture? Where are the gaps between the great ideals of these writers’ words and the reality of their times and/or ours? e.g. How might MLK (in light of his “Letter”) feel about the society and civil rights situation we see today?
4) You could pick one, two, or three key themes from any of the works and discuss how the text fleshes out these themes and why they are important to our understanding of the period, or the particular writer, or to transcendentalism as a movement, or to American tradition or literature and so forth.
5) You could pick a theme which runs through several of the texts (for example, something about the role or nature of the individual) and trace it through its different configuration and representations.
Essay length: 4-5 pages — again, I’m always more concerned with minimum than limiting any maximum length.