Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

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Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics & Ideas

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Good Literary Analysis Essay Topic Ideas

How to choose a literary analysis essay topic , tips to write a compelling literary analysis essay.

You’re a literature student, and you’ve been assigned to work on a literature analysis essay, but you’re not sure which topic to go for. It’s a tricky situation!

We understand that choosing a worthy topic for a literary analysis essay is never an easy task. But don’t you worry!

For literature students, we know the importance of drafting an excellent literary analysis essay . And for an exceptional essay, one needs a standout topic.

That’s why in this blog, we have gathered more than 200 exciting and interesting literary analysis essay ideas for you to get started. 

Read on! 

If you are a high school or a college student, and you’re having difficulty coming up with a good topic for your essay, choose from the topic list below.  

Literary Analysis Essay Topics Middle School

  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane 
  • Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
  • Harry Potter’s powers in the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  • Allegory in Lord Byron’s Vision of Judgement 
  • Impact of Henry Miller and Gordon Byron’s life on their legacy 
  • Comparative analysis of Dickens VS Thackeray 
  • Canterbury Tales VS Decameron 
  • The irony in Jerome’s stories
  • Mood expressions in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Literary Analysis Essay Topics for High School

  • The representation of justice in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Analyze the theme of friendship in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
  • Explore the theme of identity in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
  • The role of nature in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights
  • Discuss the concept of heroism in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
  • The use of foreshadowing in George Orwell's Animal Farm
  • The representation of mental health in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
  • The impact of war on individuals in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried
  • The use of symbolism and allegory in Lois Lowry's The Giver
  • Discuss the role of cultural identity in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

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Literary Analysis Essay Topics For College

  • Literary devices used in The Night by Elie Wiesel 
  • The portrayal of the escape theme in Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer 
  • The evolution of Celie's character in 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker
  • Jane Austen's critique of social class and marriage in Pride and Prejudice
  • Shed light on the theme of chaos in Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Examine the historical events of World War II and their significance in Elie Wiesel's “Night.”
  • The power of love in The Princess Bride by William Goldman 
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 
  • Presentation of dreams in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 
  • The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence 

Literary Analysis Essay Prompts in Classics

  • The portrayal of fate in Romeo and Juliet 
  • The portrayal of love in Romeo and Juliet 
  • Concept of mortality in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet 
  • Misogyny in Hamlet 
  • Witchcraft in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth 
  • The tragic flaws and character development of King Lear in William Shakespeare's play
  • The philosophical underpinnings of justice and governance in Plato's 'The Republic
  • Exploring the theme of civil disobedience and consequences in Sophocles' 'Antigone’
  • Exploring the conflict between illusion and reality in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
  • The complex character relationships and moral dilemmas in 'Montana' by Larry Watson

Social Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Social injustice in Oliver Twist 
  • Ethnicity in Burmese Days by Orwell
  • Torture and injustice in Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Vanity Fair - the culture of the 19th century according to Thackeray 
  • The portrayal of the Civil Western Society in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The role of women in society in the 18th Century according to Jane Austen 
  • Escape from society and its rules in Into the Wild by John Krakauer 
  • The place of women in the society in Hamlet 
  • Social status of women in the 17th century portrayed by Jane Austen in Emma 
  • The wrongs of the modern society in Fight Club by Palahniuk 

War and Peace Topics for Literary Analysis Essay

  • The portrayal of war and violence in the poems of Stephen Crane
  • Literary works during WWI
  • War setting in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The depiction of war in Homer’s plays
  • Toni Morrison’s views on the civil war
  • The war between demons and angels in Paradise Lost
  • War in the Mother Courage and Her Child by Bertolt Brecht
  • The portrayal of war and peace by George Orwell
  • Concept of war in A Fable by Faulkner
  • Steinbeck’s presentation of injustice in The Grapes of Wrath

Literary Analysis Essay Topics for Movies

  • Comparison between the book and film “Sense and Sensibility.” 
  • The portrayal of women in the “Little Women.” 
  • Imitation of society and class in “The Great Gatsby.”
  • The ideas of love and trust in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” 
  • The good and evil in “A Wrinkle in Time.” 
  • Feminity in Sense and Sensibility 
  • The role of Saruman and Gandalf 
  • Spirituality and religion in “Lord of the Flies.” 
  • Oskar’s struggle to find a sense of home in “The Tin Drum.”
  • Jealousy and male pride in “The Dead.” 

Literary Analysis Essay Topics for the Subject of Race

  • “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J.M. Coetzee
  • Race and Injustice in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Race and fellowship in Melville’s Moby Dick
  • “Under The Feet Of Jesus”
  • Description of culture and tradition in “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Interracial relationship in Back to Life by Wendy Coakley
  • Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by McMorris
  • The Art Of Love by Hong Ying
  • Multiculturalism in the Captain Underpants series by Dev Pilkey
  • Imitation of slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

General Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Focalization techniques in When I Lay Dying
  • Historical background of Duma’s Novels
  • The use of imagery in Walt Whitman’s works
  • Male and female characters in Beowulf
  • Character analysis of Emmy in Vanity Fair
  • Character analysis of Rebeca in Vanity Fair
  • The complicated relationship between mother and daughter in Beloved
  • Beauty standards in The Bluest Eye
  • Comparison in the portrayal of death by Keats and Blake
  • The idea of death in Renaissance literature

1984 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Roles of genders in the novel
  • What role does the Ministry of Truth play in the story?
  • The theme of subversion of love in 1984
  • The importance of memory in 1984
  • Totalitarian society in George Orwell's 1984
  • Analyze the role O'Brien plays in Winston's life
  • An in-depth analysis of the novel 1984 by George Orwell
  • How is the historical background reflected in 1984?
  • Lack of privacy in 1984
  • Propaganda and totalitarianism in Orwell’s “1984”

Hamlet Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • A theme of revenge in Hamlet
  • Explore Hamlet’s relationship with Ophelia
  • Explore Hamlet’s mental state
  • Discuss Hamlet's relationship with Gertrude
  • Ghost in Hamlet
  • Was Hamlet truly mad?
  • Is Hamlet a villain or a hero?
  • How does Shakespeare present the idea of madness in Hamlet?
  • Is Hamlet’s love for Ophelia genuine?
  • Tragedies in Hamlet VS Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Discuss the development of characters during the play
  • Examine the role of women in Romeo and Juliet.
  • What is the role of history in Romeo and Juliet?
  • Analyze the Romeo and Juliet play
  • Romeo and Juliet: Fate or Free Will?
  • Why did Juliet warn of danger?
  • Rosaline in Romeo and Juliet
  • The love language of Romeo and Juliet
  • A fate analysis essay on Romeo and Juliet
  • The death of Romeo and Juliet

Macbeth Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Macbeth’s mental state
  • The role of morality in the play “Macbeth”
  • Describe the use of figurative language in Macbeth
  • The symbolism of blood in Macbeth
  • Applying imagery in Macbeth to advance the story
  • Lady Macbeth character analysis
  • What role did social hierarchies play in the play?
  • Analysis of gender roles in Macbeth
  • Role of women in Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Is Lady Macbeth a dominant heroine?

Beowulf Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Why is Beowulf a work of Christian propaganda?
  • What is the main idea of the story?
  • The meaning of rings in Beowulf
  • Which of Beowulf's fights was most heroic?
  • How do Beowulf’s heroic qualities affect the story?
  • Discuss the digression's role in Beowulf
  • Analyze the significance of the mead hall in Beowulf.
  • The difference between Beowulf and Modern-Day Heroes
  • Beowulf’s personality traits in the epic story
  • Analysis of Beowulf's symbols and their importance

Frankenstein Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Analyze what fire is trying to symbolize.
  • Frankenstein: The theme of guilt
  • Discuss any romantic elements in “Frankenstein”
  • The family relationship in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Who is more human, Frankenstein or the monster?
  • Romantic and gothic Frankenstein elements
  • Sacrifices for ambitions in the novel Frankenstein
  • Relationship between Victor and Frankenstein
  • Romanticism in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Family Values and Frankenstein

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Discuss the novel as a cautionary tale
  • The meaning of wealth in the novel
  • What is the novel’s title meaning?
  • Explain how the novel demonstrates the characteristics of modernism
  • Explore the symbolism of the “green light” in “The Great Gatsby”
  • Discuss the role of women in the 1920s society as portrayed in “The Great Gatsby”
  • Dreams are the main theme in “The Great Gatsby”
  • What makes The Great Gatsby great?
  • The Great Gatsby: Winter Thoughts
  • What role does money play in Fitzgerald’s novel?

The Crucible Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Relate the Crucible to modern society
  • Analyze the most important theme of 'The Crucible.'
  • What are the dynamics of puritanism?
  • Examine the importance of religion in 1953 in work
  • The use of fear tactics in “The Crucible”
  • John Hale in The Crucible
  • Morality and The Crucible
  • The Crucible Critical Lens
  • The sinful confessions in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Fahrenheit 451 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • History of the Fireman in Fahrenheit 451
  • Discuss the roles of both nature and technology play in Fahrenheit 451
  • The use of Parallelism in Fahrenheit 451
  • Analyze the three parts of Fahrenheit 451
  • Discuss the dual image of fire in the novel
  • How relevant is Fahrenheit 451 today?
  • The role of Clarisse McClellan in “Fahrenheit 451”
  • Analyze Mildred Montag
  • Discuss the usage of literary quotes in Fahrenheit 451
  • Examine the novel's main title

Literary Analysis Essay Topics For Othello

  • Examine the portrayal of women in ‘Othello’
  • A true reason for Othello's demise
  • Consider Othello’s suicide
  • The real motives of Iago in Othello
  • Women's roles in Shakespeare’s Othello and Hamlet
  • Gender roles and racism in “Othello”
  • Discuss Othello's relationship
  • Analysis of The Film “Othello” By Oliver Parker
  • Explore themes of love and betrayal within Shakespeare's work of literature, “Othello”
  • How was Emilia treated by the men in the play “Othello”?

Lord of The Flies Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • The symbolism of the conch shell and its significance in the novel
  • Analyze the themes of civilization versus savagery in “Lord of the Flies”
  • Explore the character development of Ralph and Jack in the story
  • Discuss the role of fear and the “beast” in the boys' descent into chaos
  • The portrayal of innate human nature and its consequences on the deserted island
  • Analyze the role of Piggy and his glasses as symbols of knowledge and reason
  • Analyze the use of irony in the story and its implications for the characters
  • Discuss the themes of power and leadership in the struggle for dominance
  • Examine the relationship between the boys' names and their personalities
  • The role of the island's setting in shaping the events and characters of the story

Literary Analysis Essay Topics For The Catcher In The Rye

  • Analyze the novel from the perspective of Bildungsroman
  • Analyze literary devices used in “The Catcher in the Rye”
  • Discuss the theme of death in the novel
  • Analyze the theme of self-discovery from the novel
  • Describe the story's topic of loneliness
  • Analyze growing up in the novel
  • Why does Holden love the Museum of Natural History?
  • The Role of Dialogue in The Catcher in the Rye
  • Describe the novel's portrayal of phoniness and naivety
  • Describe the character of Holden

Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • War, existentialism, and love in “A Farewell to Arms”
  • Sense of Sin in The Scarlet Letter 
  • Analyze the use of biblical allusions and religious symbolism in William Golding's novels
  • Analyze the symbolism of the “white whale” in Melville's work of literature, “Moby-Dick”
  • Lies and deceit in “The Godfather” 
  • Analyze the portrayal of fear and the human psyche in William Golding's novels
  • The symbols used to describe nature by William Wordsworth
  • Comparison between urban and rural settings of nature in the dystopia of Huxley
  • Decay and revival in post-apocalyptic novels
  • A religious and spiritual journey in “Jude the Obscure”

Now that you have the liberty to choose from a wide range of literary analysis example topics, you could use some help on how to opt for a good topic. 

To select a good and worthy topic for your literary analysis essay, follow the tips provided below:

  • Always go for an interesting topic for an engaging piece of paper
  • Look for an idea with available research material to support your analysis
  • Ensure your topic allows for an in-depth analysis rather than a surface-level summary
  • Choose an idea that challenges you to think critically and make meaningful connections
  • Avoid overly broad topics; instead, focus on a specific aspect or element of the work.
  • Choose an idea that best reflects your stance on the chosen work.
  • Analyze the topic deeply before you start writing about it
  • Balance personal interest with the potential appeal to your target audience
  • Make sure that the theme of the work is visible in your essay topic 

Here are some tips for you to pen down a compelling literary analysis essay!

Essay writing is an essential part of academics. Students always require some tips and tricks to draft perfect essays and score good grades.

To make your literary analysis essay impeccable, follow the tips provided below:

  • Thoroughly read the chosen literary work
  • Identify the main themes, settings, and characters
  • Understand the purpose of the work 
  • Pay attention to the tools and techniques used by the author to deliver the message
  • Pick an interesting literary analytical essay topic for your essay.
  • To write an analytical essay effectively, draft a perfect literary analysis essay outline
  • Develop a strong thesis statement 
  • Craft strong topic sentences to guide and structure your analysis effectively
  • Prove and support all your statements using phrases and quotes from work
  • Write your literary essay from the third-person perspective
  • Write in the present tense
  • Avoid writing a plot summary of the work
  • Use multiple literary terms to write your essay professionally
  • Always cite properly

Literary Analysis Essay Example

To sum it up , writing a literary analysis essay can be extremely daunting if your analyzing abilities are weak. From selecting the right literary analysis topic to writing a conclusion for your essay, the process is lengthy.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay - A Step-by-Step Guide

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Literary Analysis Essay Outline - A Step By Step Guide

literary analysis essay outline

435 Literary Analysis Essay Topics and Prompts [2024 Upd]

Literature courses are about two things: reading and writing about what you’ve read. For most students, it’s hard enough to understand great pieces of literature, never mind analyzing them. And with so many books and stories out there, choosing one to write about can be a chore.

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The picture says that literary analysis involves interpretation and evaluation.

But you’re in luck!

This article by our Custom Writing service experts presents a list of the most interesting and creative literary analysis topics. Additionally, you will find here:

  • helpful essay prompts;
  • a writing guide with simple tips;
  • a literary analysis example.

This comprehensive article can be helpful not only for university or college students but also to students of high and middle school.

  • 🔝 Top 10 Literature Topics for High School
  • 🔮 Top 10 Literary Topics for College
  • 📜 Topics from Different Eras
  • 🖋️ Poetry Analysis Topics
  • 🎭 Shakespeare Essay Topics
  • 📚 English Literature Topics: Different Authors
  • 💡 Non-Fiction Literature Topics
  • ⭐ Other Ideas
  • 🖊️ Literary Analysis Prompts
  • ✍️ Writing Guide
  • 📃 Essay Example

🔗 References

🔝 top 10 literature essay topics for high school.

  • The role of religion in King Lear  
  • Milk symbolism in Beloved  
  • Is there gender inequality in Iliad ? 
  • Social issues of The Little Match Girl  
  • Gender roles in The Great Gatsby  
  • Frankenstein : historical background 
  • How is loyalty presented in Beowulf ?
  • Flower symbolism in A Rose for Emily
  • Politics in Titus Andronicus  
  • The presentation of power in Ozymandias   

🔮 Top 10 Literary Analysis Essay Topics for College

  • Nature symbolism in Young Goodman Brown  
  • Childhood trauma in God Help the Child  
  • The consequences of Macbeth’s ambition 
  • The historical context of The Scarlet Letter  
  • Presentation of misery in The Chimney Sweeper
  • The supernatural in The Fall of the House of Usher  
  • What does Dorian Gray’s portrait represent? 
  • How is the true inner self discovered in Demian ? 
  • Natural beauty in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud  
  • Endurance as a theme of The Old Man and the Sea  

📜 Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Different Eras

Topics in ancient greek & roman literature.

Works of literature from Ancient Greece have a timeless quality. This is why they are still taught in schools centuries later. After thousands of years, there is little that hasn’t already been written about these works. That’s why we’ve gathered the only most outstanding topics that you will definitely find interesting:

  • Justice in Plato’s The Republic . Plato is perhaps the most influential thinker in the Western World. Accordingly, writing about his powerful philosophical dialogs is a challenging task. Most teachers will assign only portions of The Republic . We suggest you write about the theme of justice, but you can choose to focus on any other aspect of the dialog.
  • Determination in Sophocles’ Antigone . Antigone is one of the masterworks of the Greek playwright Sophocles. In this tale of royal succession, key themes include civil disobedience, natural and human law, and faithfulness.
  • Odysseus as an atypical hero in The Odyssey . The Odyssey by Homer is considered one of the most important poems in Classic literature. Odysseus is a unique epic hero facing an unusual challenge: his goal is not to win battles but to reconnect with his family. He has to rely on his wit rather than sheer power to achieve it. In your essay, explain how Odysseus differs from other heroes in Greek mythology .
  • Ethical principles in Aesop’s Fables . Aesop’s Fables represent a unique example of Ancient Greek literature. The stories written by a slave have become a cultural phenomenon centuries later. Even today, the morals of his works stay relevant.
  • The influence of Greek tragedy on modern theater. Sophocles’ and Aeschylus ‘ plays can still be found in the repertoire of many theaters. Moreover, their works often serve as inspiration for contemporary playwrights.
  • The tragedy of Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex . Oedipus is one of the best-known classic tragic heroes. In killing his father and marrying his mother, he fulfilled the prophecy of the Oracle. Through this play, Sophocles explores the themes of destiny and human flaws.
  • The variety of genres in the Metamorphoses. Millennia after Ovid’s Metamorphoses were written, scholars still argue about the genre of this work. Ovid blended historical events with fiction and experimented with the tone and themes of the poem.
  • The role of gods in Homer’s epic poems. In Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey , gods often determine the outcomes of major events and change heroes’ destinies. They can become powerful allies or dangerous enemies of humans. Explore how divine interventions change the course of the story in both poems. Focus on Athene, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hera, and Poseidon.
  • Cicero’s legacy in Western politics and philosophy. Cicero’s letters are widely recognized as some of the most influential works of Latin literature. John Locke , Voltaire, and Martin Luther are among the figures inspired by him. Cicero’s philosophy teaching also influenced revolutionary movements in France and America in the 17 th century.

Literary Essay Topics: 19th and 20th Century

Many great literary works in the English language were written in the golden era of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. These works, ranging from epic novels to short poems, provide insight into the themes that define the Anglophone world’s spirit.

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  • The conflict between good and evil in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes . Sherlock Holmes—a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—is considered the most famous fictional detective of all time. The Adventure of the Speckled Band is the favorite Holmes story of both the author and readers. Accordingly, many students choose to analyze this short story, which explores the themes of chaos.
  • Lord of the Flies as an allegory of modern society. Students of all ages have read Lord of the Flies , the classic novella by William Golding that explores the dangers of groupthink, the conflicts between rationality and irrationality, and morality and immorality., the classic novella by William Golding that explores the dangers of groupthink, the conflicts between rationality and irrationality, and morality and immorality.
  • The arbitrary nature of time and history in The Princess Bride . William Goldman’s The Princess Bride is such an entertaining story that it was adapted into an even more popular film. The key theme explored in this book is the power of love to conquer all.
  • The theme of money and greed in The Rocking Horse Winner . D. H. Lawrence is one of the masters of 20 th -century English literature, and his short story The Rocking Horse Winner clearly demonstrates his skill. In this tale of a struggling family, the themes of money and greed are thoroughly explored as a young boy uses clairvoyance gained on a rocking horse to predict race outcomes.
  • Is Of Mice and Men a classic tale of struggle? The American writer John Steinbeck captured the hardships faced by ordinary people during the Great Depression . The main recurring theme among Of Mice and Men characters is striving after dreams, often futilely, as demonstrated by them all: from George and Lennie to Candy and Curley’s wife.
  • The themes of reality and fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire . Tennessee Williams’s masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire is perhaps the most famous American dramatic play of all time. The central theme explored in this provocative play is the contemporary dependence of women on men.
  • Comparison of Ivan and Alexei in The Brothers Karamazov. The conflict between faith and doubt is arguably the central topic of Dostoevsky’s work, and The Brothers Karamazov is a perfect example of it. Alexei is a devout Orthodox Christian who believes in miracles. His brother, Ivan, rejects the concept of divine transcendence and embraces atheism.
  • Charles Dickens’ ambivalent attitude towards the poor. Dickens is widely considered an advocate of the poor’s rights and social change. Indeed, many of his impoverished characters are likable. However, Dickens also believes that the poor can be dangerous to society. Some of the works you can discuss are Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities , and Barnaby Rudge .
  • Magic realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude . Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is written in the genre of magical realism. Marquez tells a fictional story of the Buendia family, blending daily routine with extraordinary events, effectively blurring the line between reality and fiction.
  • The differences between dystopian worlds in 1984 and A Brave New World . George Orwell and Aldous Huxley wrote the two most famous dystopian novels of the 20 th century. In both of them, the government has complete control over society, which is obtained through different strategies. In your essay, you may compare the policies in 1984 and A Brave New World .
  • On the Road as the landmark novel of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat movement challenged the typical American middle-class lifestyle in their works. On the Road embodies the main principles of their philosophy. Some of the topics to explore are freedom, spontaneity, and nonconformity.
  • The role of the changing narrative in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury . The Sound and the Fury is often praised for its experimental form. Four narrators tell the story from different perspectives and in contrasting tones. Explore how the changing narrative affects the overall perception of the novel.
  • Folklore, religion, and myth in Toni Morrison’s works. Toni Morrison is widely recognized as one of the most influential contemporary Black American writers. Her works are inspired mainly by her African heritage and Western mythology. Some of the novels to explore are Beloved and Song of Solo mon .
  • Expression of war experiences in American fiction. Wars in the 20 th century had a significant impact on American literature. Many writers participated in armed conflicts. Hemingway, Vonnegut, Salinger, and O’Brien are some of the authors who reflect on their war experiences in semi-autobiographic novels and short stories.

“My mother is a fish” quote.

Contemporary Literature Essay Topics

Excellent books are still being written! Once in a while, your instructor may ask you to analyze a more recent work. Here are a few great books to consider for your next essay.

  • The theme of overcoming obstacles and poverty in Reservation Blues . Sherman Alexie’s novel Reservation Blues tells the story of a group of young men from the Spokane Indian reservation. They obtain the enchanted guitar of a legendary bluesman. Aside from overcoming obstacles, this book explores many other themes of Native American life.
  • Family obligations in Montana 1948 by Larry Watson . This novella is set in the Western American state of Montana, where a young man’s family struggles to survive. You may explore the theme of family obligations in conjunction with loyalty and justice.
  • The presentation of grief in The Lovely Bones . In Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones , the protagonist Susie dies violently. And then, her spirit proceeds to watch over the investigation of her disappearance and her family members’ lives.
  • Self-sacrifice as one of the central themes of Harry Potter . You may also want to write about any other theme of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. But remember: when you write about a book that was turned into a movie, make sure to actually read the book!
  • Cultural and religious references in Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. One of the most acclaimed novels in recent years, Lincoln in the Bardo deals with the themes of death and the afterlife. A Tibetan concept of bardo inspires Saunders’ work, but the author also borrows ideas from other cultures and religions.
  • The theme of cultural assimilation in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. In her third novel, Adichie draws upon her personal experiences to tackle the issues African immigrants face when they move to the US. Explore the effects of immigration on the protagonist’s personality, views, and behavior.
  • Hypocrisy as the central theme of Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. In Amsterdam , McEwan explores the contrast between public figures’ statements and their personal lives. None of the major characters in the novel act in accordance with their ethical standards. We suggest you focus on the figures of Clive, Vernon, and Julian.
  • Paul Beatty’s The Sellout : Satire on racial stereotypes. Beatty employs satire and irony to tackle some of the most pressing current issues in American society. The Sellout can be used as an encyclopedia of stereotypes associated with African Americans. Explore how the author uses literary devices to highlight their absurdity.
  • Cloning ethics in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go . In the dystopian world of Never Let Me Go , cloning is a common practice. However, clones are used only as organ donors; they are not perceived as human beings. Explain how Ishiguro uses the narrative to challenge this social norm. For example, his characters can make art and fall in love.
  • Comparison of the New and Old Gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. In American Gods , the narrative is based on the idea that humans created deities. The Old Gods in mythology represent the forces of nature, and The New Gods represent technologies that shape modern society. Discuss the similarities and differences between these two groups.

🖋️ Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Poetry

Many of the great works of literature are poems. Writing about them requires a special approach. Here’s a tip: don’t be afraid to quote the poem heavily and give several alternative interpretations. But first, check out this list of excellent topics:

  • A real-life war experience in Crane’s War is Kind . An American poet and writer Stephen Crane wrote the acclaimed American Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage . But not everyone knows that he also wrote a collection of poems entitled War is Kind . Through these poems, he delved deep into the themes of war and violence based on his experience in the Spanish–American and Greco–Turkish Wars.
  • The theme of religion in John Donne’s sonnets. At the opposite end of the poetry spectrum, you can find the Elizabethan-era Englishman, John Donne . His works were written mainly in the form of sonnets focused on the themes of love, social criticism, death, and religion.
  • Mysticism in William Butler Yeats’s poetry . The occult, spiritualism, and Irish mythology profoundly influenced Yeats’ work. Many of his poems are preoccupied with the Apocalypse, immortality of the human soul, and the spirit world. Start your research with The Second Coming and Sailing to Byzantium.
  • Allusions in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven . The Raven is widely recognized as one of the most famous poems of all time. It contains numerous references and allusions to the Bible, folklore, and other literary works. Examine and quote Poe’s sources of inspiration.
  • The meaning of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost . Robert Frost’s poetry is often praised for his rich metaphorical language. The Road Not Taken is a quintessential piece that’s often misunderstood. In your essay, you may explore its alternative interpretations.
  • The evolution of blank verse in English poetry. Blank verse emerged in English poetry in the 16 th century and has been used by some of the most influential poets since then. While its main features have remained largely unchanged, many prominent authors experimented with its form. For example, you can analyze the use of blank verse in the poetry of Shakespeare , Milton, and Wordsworth.
  • Main themes and features of Beat poetry. The Beat movement played a pivotal role in the cultural processes in the post-war US. Beat poetry is characterized by rebellion, transgression, and experiments with form. Some of the authors to check out are Allen Ginsberg , Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti , and Gary Snyder.
  • The narrator in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself . Unlike many poets of his time, Whitman rejected the dichotomy of body and soul. In Song of Myself , the narrator represents the union of the “temporary” human body with the immortal soul. Consider exploring Whitman’s philosophy behind the notion of “self” in the poem.
  • William Blake’s influence on British and American poetry and culture. Blake’s contemporaries largely disregarded his poetry. However, his influence on the later generations is hard to overestimate. His values and ideas inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, the Beat Generation, and some of the prominent figures of the American music scene, including Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. and Jim Morrison.

🎭 Literary Analysis: Shakespeare Essay Topics

Romeo and juliet essay topics.

How many Romeo and Juliet personal responses and analysis essays have already been written? There are too many of them to count, but there’s still room for more. Romeo and Juliet essay examples can help you find a unique topic for an essay about the play. Another option is to check out top Romeo and Juliet themes below:

  • How does fate affect the love plot in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • Concept of contrasts in the language of the play.
  • The significance of time in Romeo and Juliet
  • The tragic love theme of Romeo and Juliet as a cliché for romantic fatalism
  • Mercutio as a representation of loyalty
  • Montagues and Capulets: the conflict between generations
  • How is irony used in the play?
  • The role of the family in Romeo and Juliet
  • The social and historical context of the play
  • Nurse’s role in the death of Romeo and Juliet

Hamlet Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s Hamlet may be the most widely assigned play in the English courses. Here are the top Hamlet essay topics worth exploring.

  • The theme of disillusionment in Hamlet
  • Mistreatment of women in Hamlet as a representation of misogyny in Shakespeare’s times
  • How has the tragedy’s theme of madness affected modern literature?
  • What role does melancholy play in Hamlet ?
  • The connection between friendship and betrayal in the character of Laertes
  • Comedic elements in Hamlet
  • The impact of Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage on Hamlet’s revenge
  • What is the symbolism of The Mousetrap play?
  • The impact of introspection on Hamlet’s revenge
  • Analysis of the Denmark setting in Hamlet

Macbeth Essay Topics

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the last (and shortest) of the three big Shakespearean plays every high school student reads before graduation. Like the rest of William Shakespeare’s tragedies, it is full of meaningful themes that can serve as topics for literary analysis essays.

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  • The corrupting influence of ambition in Macbeth
  • Supernatural elements in Macbeth
  • The impact of loyalty and betrayal on the plot
  • What does sleep symbolize in the play?
  • Why is Macbeth a victim of fate?
  • The role of darkness as a setting in Macbeth
  • Is blood a symbol of guilt in Macbeth ?
  • The causes of Macbeth’s mental deterioration
  • The impact of Macbeth’s hallucinations on his character development
  • Minor characters’ contributions to the play’s action

Lady Macbeths real name was Gruoch and Macbeth’s real name was Mac Bethad Mac Findlaich.

Shakespeare wrote many more plays beyond the big three listed above. Here are a few more topics and works that show the range of the Bard.

  • The theme of madness in King Lear . Shakespeare’s King Lear is one of the longest works by the Bard. Many actors feel that the title role is one of the most challenging available for an actor because of the character’s gradual descent into madness. Accordingly, “madness” is perhaps the best topic related to this play.
  • The presentation of love and adoration in Sonnet 18 . Shakespeare’s sonnets make excellent essay topics because they are so concise but rich in meaning. Love and devotion, which are expressed in Sonnet 18 and throughout his other sonnets, serve as great critical analysis essay topics.
  • The theme of the crown in Shakespeare’s Henry IV
  • Sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality in William Shakespeare’s sonnets
  • Ambition in Hamlet and Macbeth : choices of men and women characters
  • The use of disguise in The Twelfth Night
  • Different faces of love in Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays
  • Appearance as the most potent disguise in Shakespeare’s plays
  • The use of satire in William Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies
  • The line between acting and real life in Hamlet
  • Parallels between Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
  • The use of allusion in The Tempest
  • The complexity of the female character in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra
  • Archetypal female characters in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets
  • William Shakespeare’s authorship: style, vocabulary, themes, and dates
  • The role of Shakespeare in the world of literature
  • How does William Shakespeare use the meter in his plays?
  • The depiction of the supernatural in Macbeth , The Tempest , and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The theme of race and ethnicity in Othello
  • Personal identity in Hamlet and Henry IV

By the way, you can find all of Shakespeare’s works on our website for free.

📚 English Literature Essay Topics: Different Authors

Some can find it easier to focus on particular authors and their works. Are you one of them? Here are possible topics for those who like traditional approaches.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Chaucer’s works of the French and Italian periods
  • Primary themes and motifs in Troilus and Criseyde
  • Women’s virtues, as seen by Chaucer and his contemporaries
  • Gender: conventions and innovations in Geoffrey Chaucer’s works
  • Chaucer’s role in the development of a heroic couplet
  • Chaucer’s use of the vernacular language: nobility and nation
  • Religious morals in The Canterbury Tales
  • The roots of class conflict in The Canterbury Tales
  • Chaucer’s influence on modern English dialects
  • The critique of clergy in The Canterbury Tales
  • The influence of medieval Italian poetry on Chaucer’s work
  • Central themes in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Book of the Duchess
  • The comparison of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida
  • Elements of comedy in The Canterbury Tales
  • Chaucer as a pioneer of rhyme royal in English poetry
  • Chaucer’s primary sources of inspiration in Roman poetry: Ovid and Virgil
  • The depiction of the middle class in The Canterbury Tales

Literary Essay Topics on John Keats

  • Different shapes of death in John Keats’s works
  • What was wrong with Keats’s Otho the Great ?
  • Byron’s influence on Keats’s style and themes
  • The uniqueness of John Keats’ imagery
  • Keats’s letters and their influence on the English literature
  • Greek classics as a source of inspiration for Keats
  • Keats’ stance on social and political issues of his time
  • The importance of nature in Keats’ odes
  • The themes of melancholy and isolation in Keats’ poetry
  • Keats’ perception of art and its role in Ode on a Grecian Urn
  • The polemics on Keats’ statement “Beauty is truth”
  • The values of Romanticism in Keats’ poetry
  • Keats’ concept of negative capability and its examples in his poetry
  • The differences between the Romantic poetry of Keats and Coleridge
  • Keats’ attitude towards Christianity and pagan mythology

Literature Essay Topics on Oscar Wilde

  • A perfect wife as depicted in An Ideal Husband
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray as the aesthete’s manifesto
  • Wilde’s essential inspirations and the development of his views
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray : will beauty save the world?
  • Oscar Wilde’s personal traits in his characters
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray : Lord Henry’s morality or immorality
  • Irony, sarcasm, and satire in Oscar Wilde’s works
  • The use of metaphors in The Ballad of Reading Gaol
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray : was the young man innocent?
  • Conventions and innovations in Oscar Wilde’s fairy stories
  • Oscar Wilde as the most celebrated master of paradox
  • Play on words in Oscar Wilde’s major works
  • Christian theme in De Profundis
  • The Importance of Being Earnest as the critique of Victorian society
  • The role of the Dance of the Seven Veils in Wilde’s Salome
  • Wilde’s aesthetic philosophy in his essay The Critic as Artist
  • The Soul of Man under Socialism : an expression of Wilde’s political views
  • Wilde as one of the key figures of the Decadent movement
  • Women characters in Oscar Wilde’s comedies
  • The theme of sacrifice in Wilde’s short stories
  • The dichotomy of body and soul in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Fisherman and His Soul
  • The recurring motifs in Oscar Wilde’s comedies

George Orwell Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Orwell’s imagery in the depiction of totalitarian regimes
  • George Orwell’s background: inspirations for themes and symbols
  • Orwell’s views on the English language and literature
  • The historical context of 1984 and Animal Farm
  • The role of the media in Orwell’s characters’ lives
  • The character of the Big Brother in 1984
  • Naturalism and imagery in The Road to Wigan Pier
  • Why was Animal Farm regarded as controversial in the 1950s?
  • Orwell’s religious views in Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool
  • Winston Smith’s journey to freedom in 1984

💡 Literary Analysis Topics in Non-Fiction

The world of literature goes far beyond William Shakespeare and fiction in general. Here is a bunch of more literary analysis paper topics for other great works of literature that deal with real-life events.

  • Religious faith and dehumanization in Night . Elie Wiesel’s classic memoir of the Holocaust is a difficult book for many students to read. And yet, you may need to write a Night by Elie Wiesel essay at some point. Religion and dehumanization are prominent themes that can serve as great topics.
  • The power of nature in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild . The story chronicles the journey of 22-year-old Christopher McCandless from modern society into a 2-year trip in the wilderness of the western United States. This work of non-fiction explores the themes of escape, community, and the power of nature. (Warning: things do not end well for McCandless along the Stampede Trail of Alaska.)
  • Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King as a source of inspiration for modern politicians and activists. Based on his Letter from Birmingham Jail , MLK’s Why We Can’t Wait is a study of the origins of the civil rights movement in the US. Analyze how activists and politicians can use ideas from this book in the 21 st century.
  • The themes of religion and technological progress in The Education of Henry Adams. In his autobiography, Henry Adams explores the influence of religion and technological progress on society. In the industrial world, technology has become a new religion. You may contrast and compare technological and religious societies in Adams’ work.
  • The banality of evil in Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Hannah Arendt offers an original perspective on the nature of war crimes. According to her, ordinary people are capable of the most terrible deeds under specific circumstances. In your essay, explore Arendt’s concept of “the banality of evil.”
  • The role of photography in modern society, according to Susan Sontag. In her book On Photography , Susan Sontag explores how the role of this medium has been changing throughout the 20 th century. Analyze her arguments to establish the relationship between photography and political and social processes.
  • A Room of One’s Own as a manifesto of women’s literature. A Room of One’s Own reflects the women’s position in the literary scene. Woolf concludes that women’s writing capabilities match those of men. However, they often fail to reach their full potential because of the flawed structure of a male-dominated society.
  • Haruki Murakami’s Underground: a study of Japanese society. For Underground , Murakami conducted a series of interviews after the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway. Rather than focusing on the act itself, the author uses this opportunity to explore the social issues that plague Japanese society.
  • T. S. Eliot’s literary criticism and views on poetry. T. S. Eliot is one of the most important literary critics and theorists of the early 20 th century. His theories and arguments have largely shaped the New Criticism movement in literature. Analyze the ideas expressed in Tradition and the Individual Talent and Hamlet and His Problems .

⭐ Literary Analysis Topics: Other Ideas

Literary essays don’t have to be devoted to analyzing a particular work. They may also include textual analysis essays, literary interpretations, critical response essays, and topic analyses. Here are some excellent options for you to consider:

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  • Character development of various protagonists. You may write an analytical essay describing and interpreting changes in the central characters of different novels. Try to be precise, provide examples, and prove the significance of these changes. You can consider the development of Soames in The Forsyte Saga or the title character in David Copperfield .
  • Context analysis of a historical period. Your analysis paper can be devoted to the settings of the short story, play, poem, or novel. Make emphasis on the role of the context in explaining the characters and the key ideas. For example, you can explore the wartime setting in Gone with the Wind .
  • Analysis of genre conventions. Another good choice is to dwell upon the practices used by various authors belonging to the same literary genre. You can write a critical essay about a realistic, romantic, gothic , or any other kind of novel and the author’s ability to meet or challenge genre expectations.
  • The impact of an author’s life on their legacy. The background of a novelist, short-story writer, poet, or playwright may also be of great interest to the reader. However, it is not enough to narrate the author’s life: you must be able to connect it with their style and themes. The most demonstrative analysis examples may include Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway , and Lord Byron.
  • Comparative analysis of two authors . It is also a good idea to compare several authors. A critical evaluation essay may estimate their impact on the development of their genre. If these authors come from different backgrounds, it is also possible to evaluate how the culture they belonged to made a difference. For example, write about Dickens vs. Thackeray or Joyce vs. Woolf.
  • Comparative analysis of two texts . If you don’t want to compare authors, you may try comparing two literary works on the same topic or belonging to the same epoch or genre. For example, try analyzing the similarities and differences between Canterbury Tales and Decameron .
  • Analysis of a literary work’s structure. Analysis topics may include the stream-of-consciousness technique, theater of the absurd, etc. The idea is to show how new expressive means transformed the traditional approach to plot building and character development.
  • The role of irony in short stories. If you are to analyze a short story, you may describe how the author uses irony to communicate their message. Show how it creates meaning and what underlies it. Numerous authors employ irony as the major tool in their short stories, including Jerome K. Jerome and Salinger.
  • Analyzing the climax in a novel. Describing how the author builds the plot to reach the culmination is a good option for a novel critical analysis essay. Track how the tension is created and how it is released when the climax is reached. For example, you can try analyzing the climax in To Kill a Mockingbird .
  • Mood expression in a novel of your choice. Your essay may investigate how the vocabulary and grammar chosen by an author contribute to the text’s atmosphere. You can consider analyzing Lolita or Sons and Lovers .
  • The role of dialogue in plays. Your critical paper may highlight what means the playwright uses to make the characters’ speech expressive. For example, examine Oscar Wilde’s plays or Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot .
  • Stage directions in plays. You may also want to pay attention to the importance of the author’s notes and scene directions in a play. They are particularly crucial in modern drama. Consider analyzing Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Shaw’s Heartbreak House.
  • The use of allegory in poems. It’s an excellent topic for poem analysis. You can suggest your own literary interpretation of an allegory or consider why the author opted for this device. For example, consider analyzing the allegories in Vision of Judgement .
  • An open ending in a novel. Suppose the work under analysis doesn’t have a conflict resolution. In that case, your critical evaluation essay can give arguments for the author’s choice and interpret its meaning and possible continuation scenarios. For example, you may analyze an open ending in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
  • Comparison of critical opinions on a novel. If the piece you have read ranks among the best-known works in the world, it would be a good idea to compare literary criticism examples related to this work. You may select two different critics and juxtapose their views. For example, try comparing critical opinions on Mrs. Dalloway .
  • Analyzing side characters in literary works. If your task is to analyze a character, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should write about a protagonist. A more creative approach would be to pick a static character that doesn’t go through any transformations throughout the book and suggest why the author made them this way. One option is to write about side characters in Vanity Fair .
  • The narrative voice in novels. It can be challenging yet enjoyable to describe the narrative voice and focalization techniques that help the reader see the events in a certain way. It is especially complicated when a text has several points of view. For example, you may choose to analyze the narrative voice in Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! or As I Lay Dying .
  • The narrators in literature. The previous topic can be narrowed: you can take a work written from a first-person point of view and draw parallels between the author and the main character. For example, you can consider writing about the narrator in Moby Dick .
  • The cultural background of Dumas’ novels. In the case of historical novels, an analytical paragraph may be devoted to the historical and cultural background. Any of Alexandre Dumas’ novels, such as The Three Musketeers , may serve as perfect literature examples to write about.
  • Imagery used by various poets. You can analyze specific images that poets use in their works. For example, try analyzing how Walt Whitman uses industrial imagery in his works.

Alice Walker won Pulitzer prize.

Profound Literary Analysis Topics in Women’s Literature

Literary analysis on the topics of gender and women in society is critical to understanding the modern world. Here are a few powerful essay topics in this area.

  • The disruption of traditional gender roles in The Color Purple . According to New Republic, this National Book Award-winning work is considered a cultural touchstone for African American women . It features many heavy themes, such as sexism and racism. Keep in mind that this book is not for the faint of heart.
  • The themes of family and generational differences in Alice Walker’s short story Everyday Use . The short story is about heirloom possessions passed down from one generation of women to another.
  • Social standing and wealth as the two key themes in Pride and Prejudice . The protagonist of this book, Elizabeth Bennet, must choose between two suitors. One is an amiable man. The other is better established in society but has a colder personality.
  • Marriage and social status in Emma . Emma is the tale of a young woman less interested in securing her own marriage than her sisters. You can analyze the constraints placed upon women in 17 th -century society as reflected in this book.
  • Women’s role in society and gender roles according to The Great Lawsuit . The Great Lawsuit is often considered one of the most important early feminist works. The author, Margaret Fuller, argues that gender equality is a crucial aspect of a progressive society. She describes an ideal relationship between a man and a woman as an intellectual companionship.
  • Dystopia and feminism in A Handmaid’s Tale . In A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood describes a world where women’s societal role is reduced to producing children. This work largely follows the traditions of classic dystopian novels written by Orwell and Huxley. Explore how the presence of the feminist discourse makes Atwood’s work stand out.
  • Gertrude Stein’s experiments with form and style. Gertrude Stein’s work is notable for her distinctive avant-garde style. Stein was an avid art collector, and trends in visual arts influenced her writings. Her narratives are characterized by the original use of tenses, repetitions, and archaisms.
  • The stream of consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s work . Virginia Woolf was one of the first writers to systematically use the stream of consciousness in her works. The narratives of her novels, such as Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, are rooted in the descriptions of characters’ emotions and thoughts.
  • Political writings of Mercy Otis Warren. Mercy Otis Warren is famous for her political poems and plays written during the American Revolution. Explain how she used political satire to criticize the British rule. Start your research with the plays The Adulateur, The Defeat, and The Group .
  • Gender inequality in Jane Eyre . Widely recognized as one of the most successful works of women’s literature, Jane Eyre was a revolutionary novel for its time. It depicts the struggles of women in their fight for independence and equality in patriarchal Victorian society .
  • The blend of fiction and reality in The Yellow Wallpaper. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper to document the trauma and stress she had experienced due to “rest therapy” prescribed to her by a psychiatrist. Back then, women suffering from depression were discouraged from any intellectual activity, as it was thought that “domestic life” would benefit them. In Gilman’s story, this treatment ultimately drives the protagonist to insanity.
  • Cleopatra in literature: from Geoffrey Chaucer to Margaret George
  • The depiction of Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Archetypical female and male characters in Beowulf
  • Emmy’s submissiveness and Rebecca’s quick-wittedness in Vanity Fair
  • William Makepeace Thackeray’s Becky Sharp as an antihero
  • Becky Sharp as seen by Thackeray’s contemporaries and modern readers
  • Women empowerment and independence in Jane Austen’s novels
  • Women’s love and death: Shakespeare’s Ophelia and Wilde’s Sibyl
  • A Room of One’s Own : a woman’s manifesto still relevant now
  • First female voices in the Middle Ages: Aelia Eudocia Augusta
  • The Brontë sisters: Lady writers who broke the rules
  • Gender roles as depicted by Maugham in Theatre
  • This is the woman’s world: feminist utopias and dystopias
  • Female writers: themes explored in the 1910s vs. 2010s
  • Women characters’ virtues and vices in the 19th century
  • Women of color: themes of violence, discrimination, and empowerment
  • A Doll’s House as seen by Ibsen’s contemporaries
  • Is Ibsen’s A Doll’s House still relevant today?
  • Beauty standards as women’s oppression in The Bluest Eye
  • The complexity of the mother-daughter relationship in Tony Morrison’s Beloved
  • The evolvement of masculinity from medieval to postmodern literature
  • Masculinity in The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
  • Masculinity, identity, and queerness in Tennessee Williams’s works
  • Gender roles in utopias and dystopias: More and Huxley
  • Sexuality and gender stereotypes in Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Charles Dickens’s depiction of aging men and women
  • Fairy tales as sources of gender stereotypes

Powerful Literary Analysis Topics within the Subject of Race

  • Colonialism in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians . A short Waiting for the Barbarians summary should capture the narrative of the escalation of tensions between a fictional colonial town and its surrounding indigenous population. When the protagonist helps a native woman, he begins to doubt the humanity of colonialism.
  • The portrayal of racism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness . Heart of Darkness is the chilling tale of young Marlow’s voyage up the Congo River. There he meets the wicked ivory trader Kurtz. The book explores the themes of imperialism and racism. It also questions the civility of Western society over supposedly “savage” indigenous people.
  • The conflict between man and nature in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . Mark Twain is one of the greatest American writers and satirists. But his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn delved into themes that would make some of the most serious literary analysis essay topics, such as the theme of freedom vs. slavery.
  • The theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird . Harper Lee’s novel was an instant classic upon release. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the American South, and, like many books by Southern authors, it explores the themes of race and justice.
  • Anti-slavery narrative and racist stereotypes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin . Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of the first universally acclaimed novels to tackle slavery. However, it is often criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters. Hence, it remains one of the most controversial pieces of American literature.
  • De Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk as the precursor of the Civil Rights movement. De Bois’ essays have largely laid the groundwork for the campaigns for racial equality in the 20 th century. He argued that African Americans deserved fundamental rights the White population had: voting, getting a higher education, and being treated fairly according to the law.
  • The notion of Black pride in A Raisin in the Sun . Lorraine Hansberry’s famous play touches upon topics of racial identity and pride inspired by real events. A Black family wants to purchase a house in a White neighborhood, but they are dissuaded from buying it. Eventually, they refuse to accept the buyout offer and move to their new place as planned.
  • Jefferson as a folk hero in A Lesson Before Dying . In A Lesson Before Dying , Ernest J. Gaines tells a story of a young Black man wrongfully accused of murder. Treated by White people as a sub-human, Jefferson completely loses his self-esteem at some point. However, with the help of a local Black teacher, he regains his pride and meets death with dignity. Explain how Jefferson’s transformation makes him a folk hero.
  • The impact of discriminatory laws on the life of African Americans in Fences. August Wilson’s Fences explores how discriminatory laws and attitudes defined the life of African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement. The protagonist, Troy Maxson, is a talented baseball player whose life is ruined because he didn’t get a chance to play in the professional league due to racial restrictions.
  • Internalized racism in Morrison’s Song of Solomon . In her book Song of Solomon , Toni Morrison explores the issue of internalized racism. Hagar and Macon Dead are the characters to study. Macon Dead, a Black entrepreneur, hates people of color and wants to leave his community. Hagar envies women with a lighter skin tone, as she sees them as superior to her.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings : A story of hatred and trauma. Maya Angelou is renowned for her autobiographical novels dealing with challenging topics like racism, trauma, and violence. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings addresses the issues she faced growing up as a Black child in a White neighborhood.

Death-Related Literature Essay Topics

  • Death in works of dying writers: Keats and Blake
  • Death in Milton’s poetry: imagery and symbols
  • Emily Dickinson’s fascination with decay, degradation, and death
  • John Keats’s and William Shakespeare’s depictions of death
  • Views on death in the Renaissance literature
  • Murder and suicide in Shakespeare’s tragedies Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet
  • Depictions of death in Postmodernist literature
  • Aging as seen in medieval , Renaissance, and Postmodernist literature
  • Death and decay in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Love, life, and death in Huxley’s dystopian society
  • Murder in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
  • Herman Melville’s Moby Dick : The concepts of life and death
  • Simon’s death in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
  • Kate Chopin’s ironic take on death in The Story of an Hour
  • Seneca’s life and philosophy: Death as liberation
  • The role of death in existentialism
  • The theme of death in Ernest Hemingway’s works
  • The depiction of heaven and hell in Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come
  • The concept of free death in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy
  • Gothic writers’ fascination with death
  • Hades : The realm of the dead in Greek mythology

Literary Analysis Essay Topics: Man and Nature

  • Dehumanizing nature: Robinson Crusoe and Lord of the Flies
  • Struggles with nature: Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Paulsen’s Hatchet
  • Nature’s wonders and dangers in Emily Dickenson’s works
  • Natural forces: from Homer to H. G. Wells
  • Power of natural forces in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  • The depiction of nature in Fears in Solitude by Coleridge
  • William Wordsworth’s poetic language and symbols used to describe nature
  • Nature in Brave New World : urban and rural settings
  • Nature in post-apocalyptic novels: decay and revival
  • The role of nature in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • The conflict between man and nature in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
  • Post-apocalyptic fiction as the critique of industrial society
  • Environmentalism in Ursula Le Guin’s works
  • Personal life and climate change in Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior
  • The role of nature in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden
  • The emergence of eco-fiction—a new genre in world literature
  • Nature in Romanticism: Comparison of Shelley’s, Wordsworth’s, and Keats’ poetry
  • Natty Bumppo’s and Judge Temple’s conflicting views on nature in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers
  • The impact of country life on the character development in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses

Literary Essay Topics on Religion

  • Religious influences: biblical themes and allusions in Beowulf
  • Religion as another burden in The Bluest Eye
  • Views on religious conventions in Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Jonathan Swift’s satirical view of religions in Gulliver’s Travels
  • The role of religion in Charles Dickens’s works
  • The evolvement of religious beliefs in John Dryden’s works
  • Religious controversies as depicted in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • A spiritual journey in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure
  • Biblical references in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
  • Alternative narrative of the Biblical events in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita
  • The meaning of Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement “God is Dead”
  • Billy’s Christian values in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
  • The figure of Moses in Biblical and Quranic narratives
  • Influence of The Pilgrim’s Progress on British and American literature
  • Buddhist and Hindu motives in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha
  • Immanuel Kant’s critique of the arguments for the existence of God and his discussion of morality
  • Søren Kierkegaard’s critique of Christianity
  • Christian narratives and metaphors in C.S. Lewis’ works

Literary Analysis Topics: Justice and Judgment

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame : who was the monster?
  • Justice and judgment in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The role of judgment in Jane Austen’s novels
  • Judgment in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child
  • A view of justice in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Justice in dystopian novels: works of Orwell and Huxley
  • Judgment and guilt in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
  • The difference between justice and revenge in Aeschylus Oresteia
  • The genre of legal thriller in American literature
  • The themes of guilt, responsibility, and punishment in Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader
  • Justice and judgment in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
  • Courtroom drama in American and British literature
  • Behavior modification experiment as an alternative to a prison sentence in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange
  • Jeremy Bentham’s concept of panopticon prison and its critique in the works of other authors
  • Michel Foucault’s critique of the Western penal system
  • The role of the judgment of Paris in the Trojan War according to Greek mythology
  • Depiction of racial injustice in the works of African American authors

Literature Essay Topics on Good & Evil

  • A dichotomy of good and evil in the Middle Ages
  • Monsters and heroes in Beowulf : Beowulf, Hrothgar, Grendel
  • Wilde’s aesthetics: ugly is worse than evil
  • John Milton’s Satan : the good, the bad, and the beautiful
  • Victorian literary tradition: societal norms and personal happiness
  • Villains in the 19 th – and 20 th -century literary works
  • The good and the bad: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Evil forces of death in The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Presentation of good and evil in The Tempest characters
  • The contrast between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights
  • Young Goodman Brown : a conflict between morality and temptation
  • The Creature and the humans in Frankenstein

Literary Analysis Essay Topics on War & Peace

  • Depiction of war in Shakespeare’s plays
  • The war between archangels and demons in Paradise Lost
  • War in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children
  • War and peace in George Orwell’s 1984
  • Margaret Mitchell’s and Toni Morrison’s views on the Civil War
  • War as a part of human nature in Faulkner’s A Fable
  • Steinbeck’s exploration of injustice in The Grapes of Wrath
  • Wrongs of the modern society in Palahniuk’s Fight Club
  • The themes of war and nationality in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient
  • The Civil War as the background for Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  • Main themes in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Depiction of war in Alexandre Dumas’ historical novels
  • The Cold War in John Le Carre’s novels
  • The political context of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible : The Cold War and McCarthyism
  • Depiction of war in children’s fiction
  • Leo Tolstoy’s views on history in War and Peace
  • Anti-militarism in Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms
  • Literature as a tool of cultural influence during the Cold War: The case of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago

Literary Essay Topics on Vices on the Society

  • Thackeray: the culture of the 19th century as Vanity Fair
  • Dickens’s perspectives concerning social injustice in Oliver Twist
  • Ethnicity, discrimination, and identity in Orwell’s Burmese Days
  • Vices of totalitarian societies in George Orwell’s 1984
  • Injustice, torture, and dehumanization in Elie Wiesel’s Night
  • Vices of society in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  • J’Accuse: Emile Zola’s letter as critique of antisemitism and corruption
  • The emergence of transgressive fiction as a protest against conventional society
  • Critique of consumer society in Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World
  • Social satire and political commentary in Harold Pinter’s later plays
  • Ray Bradbury’s science fiction as a means of social criticism
  • The emergence of dystopia: Evgeny Zamyatin’s We
  • Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon as a critique of the totalitarian society
  • Claudius as an embodiment of human vices in Robert Graves’ I, Claudius
  • Geoffrey Chaucer’s critique of the wrongs of society in The Canterbury Tales

Interesting Literature Topics to Analyze: Literary Influences

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley’s interpretation of the Prometheus myth
  • William Shakespeare’s borrowings from ancient Greek writings and myths
  • Myths as a source of inspiration for Byron and Keats
  • Virginia Wolf’s fascination with Greek literature and Hellenism
  • James Joyce’s interpretation and use of Homer’s The Odyssey
  • Salome : Oscar Wilde’s retelling of a biblical story
  • John Milton’s exploration and interpretation of a biblical story
  • The influence of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works
  • Biblical motifs in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Don Quixote as an inspiration for Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot
  • Beowulf ’s impact on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  • Shakespearean myths in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Literature Essay Topics: Various Genres

  • The evolution of horror fiction: from Mary Shelley to Stephen King
  • The place of fantasy in the modern literature
  • Why have fantasy novels gained such popularity today?
  • Fantasy novels by Tolkien and Martin: styles, imagery, themes
  • Major elements of modern fantasy novels and stories
  • The origins of fantasy fiction: the earliest works
  • The evolution of adventure fiction: from Homer to Fleming
  • Horror fiction: Stoker’s Dracula vs. Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Theologus Autodidactus as an example of science fiction
  • Merging scientific and poetic elements in science fiction poetry
  • Comparing tragicomedies of Ancient Greece and 20th-century Europe
  • Significant features of a tragicomedy in postmodernist and metamodernist writings
  • Primary components of a coming-of-age novel: female and male perspectives
  • Elements of the coming-of-age novel in London’s Martin Eden
  • Satire in contemporary British and American literature
  • Satire or cynical humor: exploring Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary
  • Literary devices in naturalistic writing: Emile Zola’s approach
  • Elements of an antinovel in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy
  • Early examples of short stories: Charles Dickens’s style
  • Timeframes and symbols in Jonathan Nolan’s Memento Mori
  • Dystopian fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • Coming-of-age novel or American dream novel: The Great Gatsby
  • The role of education and the media in dystopias
  • Crime fiction: is it pulp reading or high literature?
  • The suspense in Agatha Christies’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings
  • The vampire in the 19th-century and 21st-century literature

Literary Topics: Uncommon Themes in Literature

  • Allegory and choice of animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm
  • Allegories in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
  • Multiculturalism and allusions in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  • Faulkner’s metaphors in The Sound and the Fury
  • Imagery in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven
  • Music and enigma in The Raven
  • The role of personification in William Blake’s poetry
  • Comparing Ancient Greek and William Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter
  • The function of trochaic meter in Shakespeare’s works
  • Symbolism and imagery in William Blake’s poem Ah Sunflower
  • Symbols and metaphors in The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Flower symbolism in D.H. Lawrence Odour of Chrysanthemums
  • Color as a symbol of Morrison’s God Help the Child
  • Symbolism in Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
  • Satire in Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden
  • Jane Austen’s personal traits in the narrator of Persuasion
  • Early forms of the stream of consciousness: Jane Austen’s style
  • Epistolary novels: works of Bram Stocker and Mary Shelley
  • Slave’s narrative in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  • Peculiarities of addressing the reader in Shakespeare’s sonnets
  • Virginia Wolf’s stream of consciousness: narration or confession?
  • The narrator in Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage
  • Authorial intrusion as a way to entice readers

🖊️ Literary Analysis Prompts: Top 21

We’ve gathered a total of 21 excellent literary analysis prompts for you. They cover a wide variety of genres and epochs, so you’ll surely find something that suits your needs. Check them out to gain inspiration for your assignment or project!

The Cask of Amontillado Literary Analysis Prompt

  • The central theme of The Cask of Amontillado is revenge. In your essay, you can analyze how suspense contributes to the revenge plot.
  • You may also explore the story’s tone and how it helps to build tension.
  • Alternatively, you can focus on the Gothic elements and their impact on the story’s atmosphere.

A Rose for Emily Literary Analysis Prompt

  • There are several important symbols in A Rose for Emily , such as a strand of hair, Emily’s house, or the ticking watch. You can dive deeper into their meaning and significance.
  • You may also focus on the story’s themes. They include death and conflict between generations.
  • Try analyzing literary devices Faulkner uses, including metaphors, irony, and personification. How do they contribute to the story’s mood?

The Story of an Hour Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the central themes featured in The Story of an Hour is freedom. Analyze what kind of freedom is discussed and how free the main character really is.
  • You may also explore Kate Chopin’s writing style. For example, focus on how irony complements the story’s plot and tone.
  • Another aspect that you can focus on is symbolism . Notable examples include time, death, and heart trouble.

Tell-Tale Heart Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Analyze why Edgar Allan Poe chose to tell the story in the first person. How does it contribute to the gloomy tone?
  • Or, you may focus on the story’s themes : guilt, confinement, and mental health. How are they represented?
  • Finally, you can examine the symbols in Tell-Tale Heart , such as the house, the bed, the bedroom, and the eye. Try to find out the meaning behind them.

Fahrenheit 451 Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Explore the use of animal imagery and the lack of nature descriptions in the novel.
  • You can also focus on the harmful effect of technology and its contribution to the dystopian world of Fahrenheit 451 .
  • The story’s central theme is censorship vs. freedom of speech. You may explore this conflict in your essay.

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of The Canterbury Tales

  • Analyze the themes of The Canterbury Tales . These include deceit, the church’s corruption, and the importance of company.
  • Focus on examining the writing style. Try to find out how it contributes to the tales’ tone and atmosphere.
  • You may also explore the symbols, such as clothing, appearance, and spring. If you’re curious about this literary work, check out our article on the symbols in The Canterbury Tales .

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of Barn Burning

  • Consider examining the conflict between loyalty to one’s family and obedience to the law.
  • Focus on analyzing the symbols of Barn Burning , such as the soiled egg and fire.
  • You can also explore the role of darkness in the story. Dive deeper into its contribution to the tone of Barn Burning .

Make sure to check out our Barn Burning study guide to learn more facts about the story.

Death of a Salesman Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Examine how the author covers the American dream theme in Death of a Salesman . What is the characters’ interpretation of the American dream?
  • You can also try analyzing the symbols in the play, such as diamonds, seeds, the rubber hose, and Linda’s stockings.
  • You may also focus on exploring the mythological figures connected with the story. Dive deeper into the comparisons to the Greek gods, such as Hercules and Adonis.

Want to know more? Check out our Death of a Salesman study guide .

Frankenstein Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • In your essay, you can focus on the symbols of Frankenstein , such as darkness and fire. Why are they important?
  • Another aspect you can concentrate on is the point of view. Mary Shelley writes from the perspective of 3 different characters. What does it help to achieve?
  • You can also explore the novel’s themes: sublime nature, family, creation, and dangerous knowledge. Check out our article on the themes in Frankenstein to learn more about them.

Hamlet Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • There are numerous themes in Hamlet that you can examine in your essay, including revenge, the supernatural, death, corruption, and politics.
  • You can also focus on the symbols of the story and their significance. They include Hamlet’s dark clothes, the skull , and the weather.
  • One of the motifs in Hamlet is misogyny. You can analyze its representation in the play.

To understand the play better, check out our Hamlet study guide .

Hamlet has been translated into Klingon.

Prompt for a Literary Analysis of Night by Elie Wiesel

  • One of the themes of Night is silence. You can explore why it is important and what it represents.
  • You can also focus on the symbolism of night and fire . Try to find out the meaning behind them.
  • Consider analyzing the characters in the novel and their actions in dramatic situations. Check out our article on characters in Night to learn more.

Othello Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the central themes of Othello is isolation and its dangers. Examine how it is portrayed.
  • Another theme you can analyze is that of justice. Try focusing on how the characters are driven by the desire to do always the right thing.
  • Consider exploring the famous metaphors from the play, such as jealousy being a “green-eyed monster.”

If you want to understand this literary work better, make sure to check out our Othello study guide .

Pride and Prejudice Literary Analysis Prompt

  • When it comes to the themes in Pride and Prejudice , you can focus on integrity, love, family, gender, class, and reputation.
  • Another central theme of the novel is marriage. Discuss the importance of marriage and its connection to social status and money.
  • In your essay, you can elaborate on the symbolism of dancing and its significance.

Don’t forget to check out our study guide on Pride and Prejudice to learn more about the novel’s elements.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Consider analyzing the motifs of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight : games, the color green, and the seasons.
  • Apart from the motifs, you can also examine the themes of nature, chivalry, Christianity, courtesy, and truth. To learn more about them, check out our article on the themes of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight .
  • Finally, you may explore the symbolism of the green girdle. It’s an essential element of the poem and deserves special attention.

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • One of the most popular symbols of The Great Gatsby is the green light. You can focus on exploring its iconic status in world literature.
  • One of the central themes of The Great Gatsby is the American dream . Analyze how it is portrayed and the author’s attitude to it.
  • Another idea for an essay is to write about the novel’s characters: Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the Buchanans, and others. Make sure to read our article on The Great Gatsby characters to understand them better.

The Lottery Literary Analysis Prompt

  • What role do family ties play in The Lottery ? You can dive deeper into this motif and analyze its meaning and importance.
  • Another central theme of The Lottery is tradition. Your essay can focus on how dangerous it is to follow conventional practices blindly.
  • There are several symbols in the story, but the lottery itself is the key one. You can explore what it represents. And don’t forget to check out our analysis of The Lottery to learn more.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis Literary Analysis Prompt

  • One of the major themes of Metamorphosis is psychological distance. You can analyze how the main character’s transformation leads to his alienation.
  • Explore the story’s recurring symbols, such as food, the father’s uniform , and the portrait of a woman wearing furs.
  • Another point that you can focus on is the motifs of the story. They include transformation and sleep.

You’re welcome to read our The Metamorphosis study guide to learn more about the story.

The Necklace Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Consider analyzing the story’s themes. Some examples are greed, the deceptiveness of appearances, and vanity. Check out our article on The Necklace’s themes to learn all about them.
  • You can also focus on exploring the symbolism of the necklace . Try to dive deeper into how a piece of jewelry is connected to high status and wealth.
  • Explore how the class conflict is presented in The Necklace . You can also analyze the author’s attitude to it.

The Odyssey Literary Analysis Prompt

  • In your essay, focus on the epic’s main themes: vengeance, hospitality, and loyalty.
  • Homer uses many epithets in The Odyssey to describe the sea, such as “wine-dark.” Look into what they may represent.
  • Another good point for discussion is the symbolism. Consider discussing the significance of the wedding bed, the sea, eagles, and food.

To understand the poem better, check out our The Odyssey study guide .

The Yellow Wallpaper Literary Analysis Essay Prompt

  • The wallpaper is the central symbol of the story. In your essay, try to uncover its significance and how it affects the main character.
  • You can also analyze how Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses different types of irony in the story. Examples include dramatic, verbal, and situational irony.
  • You can also focus on The Yellow Wallpaper’s themes. Some of them are self-expression, mental illness, gender roles, miscommunication, and the role of women in marriage.

Don’t forget to check out our study guide if you want to know more.

Wuthering Heights Literary Analysis Prompt

  • Explore the symbolism of moors, nature, and ghosts. Emily Bronte uses these symbols to represent not only abstract ideas but also characters’ personalities.
  • You can also examine the central themes of Wuthering Heights. Some of them are love and passion, class conflict, revenge, and the supernatural.
  • Another point worth writing about is nature imagery and how the author uses it to represent the characters’ personalities. To learn about it, make sure to check out our Wuthering Heights analysis .

✍️ Writing a Literary Analysis: Step by Step

Now, after you’ve decided on your topic, it is time to write your analysis.

Don’t know where to start? Well, we got your back! Here are some steps for you to write a great literary essay.

Plagiarism definition.

If you wish to learn more, you can check out our guide on how to write a literary analysis.

Best Tips for Writing a Literary Analysis

There are many things to keep in mind when writing about literature. But there’s no need to worry: we are here to help you. Here are the four components that will help to make sure you get an excellent grade on your essay:

  • Make sure you refer to the literature you write about in the proper format. For example, the titles of plays and full-length books should be italicized, while poems and short stories should be in quotation marks. You may consult Purdue University’s excellent citation guides to be on the safe side.
  • Ensure that the quotes are properly attributed with the correct page numbers.
  • Avoid directly quoting or borrowing arguments from previously published literary analysis samples. Using the same forms of argument and language is a form of plagiarism.
  • Remember that you need a brief introduction with a clear thesis statement, distinct body paragraphs, and a cohesive conclusion. If you find it hard to write concisely, feel free to use our essay shortener to save time.

📃 Literary Analysis Example for Free

Looking for a fully-formatted literary analysis example? Look no further! Download our excellent sample in PDF format below.

The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s a touching tale about a poor girl who spends New Year’s Eve working on the streets, dreaming of a better life, and warming herself by lighting matches she failed to sell. Some of the main themes include loneliness, struggle, and cruelty.

We hope that you found some inspiration to take your essay on the next level. Let us know what literary studies topic you like the most and other literary analysis ideas you have!

❓ Literary Analysis Essay FAQs

If you’re writing a literary analysis, make sure you don’t summarize the text you are analyzing. Instead, focus on your thesis and the supporting evidence. You should also avoid using phrases such as “in my opinion.”

A literary analysis should always include information on the text’s components. They include plot, setting, themes, motifs, imagery, tone, and character analysis. Don’t forget to write about the way the author uses these elements and how they contribute to the overall work.

The introductory part of your literary analysis should include a thesis statement that conveys the structure of your essay. Don’t forget to mention the author and provide background information about the text. Remember to start your body paragraphs with a topic sentence.

A literary analysis is usually 5-paragraphs long. The introduction and conclusion consist of one paragraph each, while the main body has three.

A literary analysis is a type of writing assignment containing an analysis of a literary piece. In a literary analysis, you should evaluate and interpret the work by analyzing its plot, setting, motifs, themes, characters, and style.

Further reading:

  • Case Study Analysis Example + How-to Guide
  • How to Write a Film Analysis Essay
  • Short Story Analysis: Step by Step How-to Guide
  • How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay: Outline, Examples, & Writing Steps
  • Literature Review Outline: Examples, Approaches, & Templates
  • Find a Topic Idea: Questia
  • A CS Research Topic Generator: Purdue University
  • 50 Critical Analysis Paper Topics: Owlcation
  • Variations on a Theme: Common Types of Literary Analysis Papers: UVM Writing Center
  • How do I find literary analysis essay topics? Baker Library
  • Literary Terms: Purdue O.W.L.
  • Literary Terms: Stanford University
  • How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay: Bucks College
  • Writing Critical Essays about Literature: Gallaudet University
  • Literature (Fiction): UNC Writing Center
  • Literary criticism: Britannica
  • Fiction vs Non-Fiction – English Literature’s Made-Up Divide: The Guardian
  • Feminist Literary Criticism: ThoughtCo
  • Feminist Criticism: Washington State University
  • A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis: UW Madison
  • William Shakespeare Biography: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • William Shakespeare: Poets.org
  • Hamlet Topic Overview: Gale
  • Macbeth – Themes: BBC
  • From Plato to Platonism: Cornell University Press
  • Sophocles: World History Encyclopedia
  • Charles Dickens, 1812-1870: University Of California
  • Heroes and the Homeric Iliad: University of Houston
  • Historical Context of Song of Solomon: Columbia College
  • The Red Badge of Courage: University of South Florida
  • William Blake: University of Delaware
  • William Butler Yeats: Yale University
  • Chaucer’s Influences: University of Glasgow
  • John Keats: King’s College London
  • UVA Commemoration Looks at King’s ‘Why We Can’t Wait’ in Light of Today’s Issues: University of Virginia
  • Alice Walker: National Museum of African American History & Culture
  • Virginia Woolf: University of London
  • Harper Lee: Encyclopedia of Alabama
  • A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner: Baruch College
  • Death of a Salesman and Death of a Salesman: The Swollen Legacy of Arthur Miller: Columbia University
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Ohio State University
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Boston College
  • Themes In Wuthering Heights: Brooklyn College
  • The Metamorphosis: Grossman School of Medicine
  • Gothic and the Female Voice: Examining Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”: Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
  • The Literature Review: University of Southern California
  • Cicero (106—43 BCE): Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Analyzing Novels & Short Stories: TAMU Writing Center
  • Literature Analysis: PLU Writing Center
  • What Is Analysis?: Austin Community College
  • Writing Your Literary Analysis: University of Hawaii
  • Literary Analysis Paper: Western Michigan University
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  • 120 Literary Essay Topics

Students may be assigned a literary analysis essay when taking an English, literature, or writing class. This essay aims to analyze a particular work or body of work within the context of literature.

Students giving this type of writing assignment often find that while they can understand the texts being studied, they have difficulty putting their thoughts about them into words. This can be frustrating because literary analysis requires both interpretation and evaluation, two skills that can be challenging to put on paper.

Fortunately, we’ve created an expert guide to help students write the best literary analysis essay possible. Additionally, we’ve included 120 literary analysis essay topics that offer a wide range of interesting options for students to choose from.

What Does Analysis Mean?

While students may have written essays with different purposes in the past, a literary analysis essay asks them to take a different approach. When students engage in literary analysis, they explore the text deeply and in detail. They are not simply summarizing the plot or retelling the story. Instead, they are looking at the how and why of the text, delving into its deeper meaning.

Students must learn how to go beyond simple surface-level analysis and move towards a more complex understanding of the text. This can be achieved by asking the right questions, such as:

  • How does the author use literary devices?
  • What is the author’s purpose in writing this text?
  • What are the underlying themes in the text?
  • What does the text reveal about the author’s point of view?

Answering these questions can help students move beyond simply understanding a text to being able to analyze it effectively.

Types of Literary Analysis Essays

There are three common types of literary analysis essays that students may be asked to write. Each has its own unique purpose and focus.

Character Analysis

In a character analysis, students are asked to analyze a character from a literary work. This could be a protagonist, an antagonist, or a minor character. This type of essay aims to help students understand the role that characters play in a work of literature. To do this effectively, students must pay close attention to how the author develops the character throughout the text.

For example, if a student were asked to write a character analysis of Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, they would need to consider how Gatsby is developed throughout the novel. This might involve looking at how Fitzgerald uses symbolism, narration, and dialogue to reveal things about Gatsby’s character.

Theme Analysis

A theme analysis essay focuses on a work of literature’s central theme. The purpose of this type of essay is to help students understand the theme’s role in the work as a whole. To do this effectively, students need to identify the work’s major themes and understand how they are developed throughout the course of the text.

For example, if students were asked to write a theme analysis of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, they might identify the book’s central themes of teenage angst and rebellion. They would then need to examine how these themes are developed throughout the course of the novel.

Symbolism Analysis

A symbolism analysis essay focuses on how a work of literature uses symbols to represent ideas or themes. The purpose of this type of essay is to help students understand how symbols are used to convey ideas and messages in a work of literature. To do this effectively, students need to be able to identify the work’s major symbols and understand their significance.

For example, suppose a student was asked to write a symbolism analysis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In that case, they might examine the ways in which the green light, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and the valley of ashes function as symbols in the novel.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

When writing a literary analysis essay, it is important to be sure that you are clear about your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the main point of your essay and should be concise and easy to understand. Some good examples of thesis statements for literary analysis essays include:

“In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger uses symbols to represent the teenage experience.”

“Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism in The Great Gatsby reveals the theme of the corruption of the American dream.”

Once you have your thesis statement, you will need to support it with evidence from the text. This could be done through the use of quotes, examples, or other types of evidence. Be sure that you are clear on what your evidence is and how it supports your thesis.

Another important aspect of writing a literary analysis essay is organization. Your essay should be well-organized and flow smoothly from point to point. Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence that states the main point of the paragraph and supporting evidence to back it up. Be sure to transition smoothly between paragraphs to make your essay easy to follow.

Finally, the conclusion of your essay should sum up the main points of your argument and leave the reader with a clear understanding of your position. A good conclusion will also restate your thesis in different words than how it was stated in your introduction.

120 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Students stuck on a topic for their essay can use any of these 120 literary analysis essay topics to get inspired.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Symbolism

  • How does the author use symbols to represent ideas in the text?
  • What is the significance of the book’s title?
  • How do the book’s characters embody the themes of the text?
  • What objects or images appear throughout the book, and what do they symbolize?
  • How does the author use color to convey ideas in the text?
  • What is the significance of the book’s setting?
  • What does the narrator’s point of view reveal about the characters and events in the text?
  • How does the author use foreshadowing to build suspense in the story?
  • What motifs appear in the text, and what do they symbolize?
  • How does the author’s use of irony contribute to the text’s overall theme?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Theme

  • What is the book’s central theme? Why?
  • How does the author explore the book’s main theme?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s main theme?
  • How does the author develop the book’s secondary themes?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s secondary themes?
  • How does the author’s choice of words contribute to the development of the theme in the text?
  • What characters embody the book’s central themes, and how do they represent them?
  • How does the author’s use of figurative language contribute to developing a theme in the text?
  • What events in the book support the main theme, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in the text?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Character

  • How do the book’s characters develop throughout the story?
  • How do the book’s characters contribute to the development of the plot?
  • How does the author use dialogue to reveal information about the book’s characters?
  • What physical traits do the book’s characters possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • What psychological traits do the book’s characters possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • How do the book’s characters interact with each other, and what does this reveal about them?
  • What motivates the book’s characters, and how does this contribute to the development of the plot?
  • How does the author’s use of point of view contribute to the development of the book’s characters?
  • What conflicts do the book’s characters face, and how do they resolve them?
  • How do the book’s characters change by the end of the story, and what does this reveal about them?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Plot

  • What is the book’s main plot?
  • How does the author develop the book’s main plot?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s main plot?
  • How does the author develop the book’s secondary plots?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s secondary plots?
  • How does the author’s choice of words contribute to the development of the book’s plot?
  • What events in the book support the main plot, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the book’s plot?
  • How does the author’s use of figurative language contribute to the development of the book’s plot?
  • What characters embody the book’s main plot, and how do they represent it?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Setting

  • How would a different setting affect the book’s plot?
  • How does the book’s setting contribute to the development of its characters?
  • What messages does the author convey about the book’s setting?
  • How does the author use the book’s setting to develop the book’s mood?
  • How do events in the book make the setting more or less real?
  • How does the author’s use of description contribute to the development of the book’s setting?
  • What physical traits does the book’s setting possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • What psychological traits does the book’s setting possess, and how do they contribute to the story?
  • How does the author use the book’s setting to develop the book’s theme?
  • What symbols are present in the book’s setting, and what do they represent?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About American Classic Literature

  • Compare and contrast the American Dream as it is portrayed in The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman.
  • How does F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in The Great Gatsby?
  • What similarities and differences exist between the characters in The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird?
  • In what ways does Harper Lee’s use of first-person point of view contribute to the development of Atticus Finch’s character?
  • How does J.D. Salinger’s use of figurative language contribute to the development of Holden Caulfield’s character?
  • What messages about society does Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in All My Sons?
  • What messages about family does Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie convey?
  • What messages about love and relationships does Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf convey?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About British Literature

  • How does Shakespeare’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in Romeo and Juliet?
  • What messages about family does William Golding’s Lord of the Flies convey?
  • What messages about love and relationships does D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in Women in Love?
  • What messages about society does George Orwell’s Animal Farm convey?

Literary Analysis Topics About Poetry

  • How does the author’s choice of words contribute to the development of the theme in a particular poem?
  • What messages about society does the poem convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in the poem?
  • What clues in the poem suggest the poet had a troubled life?
  • What physical traits does the poem’s speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the poem’s development?
  • What psychological traits does the poem’s speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the development of the poem?
  • How would a different choice of words contribute to the development of the poem’s theme?
  • What different images does the author use in the poem, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • Compare and contrast the author’s use of imagery in two different poems.
  • How does the author’s use of sound contribute to the development of the poem?

Literary Analysis Topics About Theater

  • Examine how the playwright’s use of stage directions contributes to character development in the play.
  • How does the playwright’s use of dialogue contribute to the development of the theme in the play?
  • What messages about love and relationships does the play convey?
  • How does the author’s use of symbolism contribute to the development of the theme in the play?
  • What messages about family does the playwright’s use of figurative language convey?
  • How does the author’s use of point of view contribute to the development of the play’s characters?
  • In what ways does the playwright’s use of setting contribute to the development of the play’s plot?
  • What messages about society does the play convey?
  • How would a change in the play’s setting contribute to its development?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About YA Novels

  • Explore the main differences between the book and its film adaptation.
  • What messages about love and relationships does the novel convey?
  • Examine the use of adolescent slang in the novel and its effects on the development of theme.
  • Argue for or against including a particular novel in high school curriculums.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Speeches

  • Compare and contrast Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet
  • Explore the symbolism in Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”
  • Analyze the rhetoric in JFK’s “Moon Speech.”
  • What messages about society does Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech convey?
  • How does Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech contribute to his character development?
  • What physical traits does the speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the development of the speech?
  • What psychological traits does the speaker possess, and how do they contribute to the development of the speech?
  • How would a different choice of words contribute to the development of the speech’s theme?
  • What different images does the author use in the speech, and how do they contribute to its development?
  • Compare and contrast the author’s use of imagery in two different speeches.
  • Does the intensity of the rhetoric in the speech contribute to its effectiveness?
  • How does the author’s use of sound contribute to the development of the speech?

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Books Turned into Movies

  • Explore the themes of capitalism in Fight Club.
  • Discuss how The Catcher in the Rye is an autobiographical novel.
  • Analyze the character of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.
  • Compare and contrast the book and film versions of The Great Gatsby.
  • Examine the use of color in The Great Gatsby.
  • Explore the theme of betrayal in The Great Gatsby.
  • Analyze the character of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
  • Compare and contrast the book and film versions of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Examine the use of point of view in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Analyze the character of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics About Non-Fiction Books

  • Compare and contrast two biographies of the same person.
  • Analyze a section of the US Constitution.
  • Compare and contrast two religious texts.
  • Analyze the historical effects of the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli.
  • Compare and contrast the ideas of Karl Marx and Adam Smith.
  • Analyze the thoughts of Rousseau on education.
  • Evaluate the methods used in a self-help book.
  • Review a political science text.
  • Compare and contrast the autobiographies of two different philosophers.
  • Compare and contrast the claims made in two history books.

With any of these 120 literary essay topics, you’ll be able to deep-dive into the world of literature and create an impressive essay on any text you’ve read.

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Are you looking for an engaging literary research paper topic? Whether you're writing a college-level essay or a master's thesis, the right literature research paper topics can make all the difference. They range from exploring particular genres or authors to examining the use of language in literary works. By researching these topics, you will gain a greater understanding of the ideas, improve your critical thinking skills, and learn to appreciate the nuances. This article will explore such literature topics for research and open up endless possibilities for analysis and interpretation, ranging from classic to modern-day texts. Are you ready to choose a trending topic and write a paper that will win your professor’s heart? 

What Are Literary Research Paper Topics?

Literary research paper topics focus on a particular literary work, such as a book, poem, novel, play, or story. They provide a great starting point for researching the specific aspect you're planning to explore for a better perception of the idea and help to eliminate any artificial facet. Literary research topics may analyze a single text, compare different writings by the same author, or contrast different authors' styles.  Common literature topics for research papers comprise symbolism, characterization, themes, plot structure, historical context, point-of-view analysis, biographical contexts, and intertextual connections. These research paper topics may also focus on how an author has been interpreted or evaluated over time, analyzing the critical reception of their works and examining any changes within literary canonization. Additionally, these topics can explore how literary works intersect with other disciplines, such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, politics, or economics.

Characteristics of Good Literature Research Paper Topics

Literary research paper topics are usually considered good when they are:

  • Relevant They should be engaging, thought-provoking, and appropriate to the academic work.
  • Specific Similarly, good literature research topics must have a narrow focus and not be overly broad.
  • Interesting They should pique your interest and encourage you to explore and aspire to know more about the literary work.
  • Challenging Deep analysis, thoughtful reflection, and creative thinking are also vital.
  • Unique They should be memorable and offer new insights into academic work.

With these important characteristics of literary topics for research papers in mind, you're ready to start writing!

How to Choose a Literature Research Paper Topic?

Choosing a literature research paper topic can be daunting, but with careful thought and planning, you're sure to find the perfect one. In order to do this, you need to complete the following:

  • Brainstorm: First, start by brainstorming topics that interest you. Think about the works you've been studying, authors and genres you enjoy reading, and themes that have resonated with you.
  • Narrow it down: Once you've identified a few research topics that intrigue you, narrow them down to one that is most relevant and specific.
  • Research: Explore if it is relevant. This will guarantee that you have enough material to work with.
  • Refine: Once you have researched, refine your topic to ensure it is specific and engaging. Consider the most interesting aspects and how they can be explored further.
  • Choose: Finally, choose the title that best reflects your interests and passions for an enjoyable research experience!

With these tips, you can find the perfect literary research paper topic! Don’t have time for reading piles of books? Get professional help with research paper writing from StudyCrumb and have your study completed by a real pro.

List of Literature Research Paper Topics

A list of literature topics for research offers a wide range of literary-related issues that can be explored and studied for your project. It includes ideas that could spark your creativity and help you choose the best title. Whether you're interested in exploring the works of Shakespeare or examining modern literature, this list of literary research paper topics has something for everyone!

  • Use of symbolism in romantic poetry.
  • Importance of technology within cyberpunk genres.
  • Impact of fantasy on contemporary culture.
  • Representation of male or female authors as represented by classic literary works.
  • Postmodernist views of time and space in literature.
  • Representation of race and ethnicity within contemporary fiction.
  • Representation of LGBTQ characters in literary works.
  • The role of mythology during the era of ancient works.
  • Social media impact on modern texts.
  • Classic and contemporary literary criticism.

Interesting Literary Research Paper Topics

If you are interested in classic books or modern trends, these ideas can be a fascinating starting point for your project. They include theories, criticism, comparison, and specific authors or genres. Besides providing an analysis of the work, a literary research paper topic could also comprise examining different themes. Explore the following interesting literature topics for your project:

  • Literary influences of Jane Austen's works.
  • Symbolism as represented by gothic texts.
  • Relevance of classic mythology within contemporary fiction.
  • The role of magic or fantasy in children's literature.
  • The role of women in Victorian literature.
  • Representation of race and ethnicity in early 20th-century literature.
  • Themes of love and loss in romantic poetry.
  • The use of horror genres in contemporary fiction.
  • Postcolonialism's impact on literary works.
  • Nature in 19th-century literature .
  • Representation of LGBTQ characters as represented by contemporary fiction.
  • Technology's impact on modern literary works.
  • Classic and contemporary interpretations of gothic texts.
  • The role of magic and fantasy in modern literary works.
  • Representation of death and loss in 20th-century works.

Great Literature Research Paper Topics

A list of great literature research topics provides a variety of ideas related to literary works. These research topics in literature can offer an exciting starting point for your English paper:

  • Rebellion themes in Shakespeare's tragedies.
  • Class and economic status in Victorian texts.
  • Symbolism in romantic poetry.
  • Impact of British imperialism on literary fiction worldwide.
  • Gender and sexuality representation in early 20th-century writings.
  • Postcolonialism in 19th-century fiction.
  • The literary influence of WWII on modern writings.
  • Vampires' role in gothic literary texts.
  • Use of fantasy in childhood writings.
  • Technology's impact on contemporary literary works.
  • Race and ethnicity as represented by postmodern fiction.
  • Religion in romantic poetry.
  • Themes of love and loss in 20th-century texts.
  • Horror genres in literary fiction.
  • Postmodernism's impact on contemporary literary works.

Unique Literature Research Paper Topics

Unique literature topics for research papers can help students explore new concepts and gain a deeper understanding of their subject. Below are rare literature paper topics for you to review:

  • The role of jealousy in 17th-century literary works.
  • Gender identity as represented by reformist fiction.
  • Mythological figures as portrayed by Greek and Roman poetry.
  • The relationship between gender and power in Shakespeare's plays.
  • Themes of isolation in 20th-century British poetry.
  • Metaphors in the works of Gabriel García Márquez .
  • Themes of rebellion and revolution in African American literary texts.
  • The role of women in medieval romance literature.
  • Poverty representation in Victorian novels.
  • Themes of oppression and freedom in colonial Latin American texts.
  • Use of metaphor and allegory in Dante's divine comedy.
  • Influence of industrialization on 19th-century fiction.
  • Dystopian settings within modern literature.
  • Religion in contemporary fiction.

Spotted any ideas for your literature research paper? Now it’s time to compose your study. Leave us ‘ do my research paper ’ notice and get a professional writer to work on your project. 

Controversial Literary Research Paper Topics

Controversial literary research topics can provide students with an opportunity to explore complex and sometimes contentious issues related to literary texts. Find below a controversial literary research paper topic for your dream English project!

  • Racial stereotypes during 19th-century English literature.
  • Themes of sexuality and desire in ancient Greek poetry.
  • The relationship between political power and language in Shakespeare's plays.
  • Conflict representation during 20th-century English fiction.
  • English role in colonial Indian literature.
  • Gender and racial representations within African American autobiographies.
  • Themes of justice and control in Victorian English novels.
  • Themes of oppression and resistance in feminist texts.
  • The role of English in modern Japanese fiction.
  • Themes of identity and belonging in postcolonial Indian literature.
  • Censorship, free speech, and social responsibility in 19th-century English novels.
  • Politics and power representations in Latin American poetry.
  • Gender, race, and class representations in English renaissance drama.
  • English as a tool for political ideology within the works of George Orwell.
  • Language used to defy authority during modern fiction writing.

Fresh Literature Research Paper Ideas

Coming up with fresh ideas for literature research topics can be daunting. Students may want to look at the works they have studied or venture outside the traditional reading list and explore different authors and genres. Some literature research paper ideas comprise studying how certain authors influenced the literary movement, analyzing how language has been used throughout history, or examining gender, race, and class representations from a literary text. Here is a perfect list of fresh ideas!

  • Aesthetics as presented by postmodern fiction.
  • The theme of loss as portrayed by African authors .
  • Use of language throughout history.
  • Identity and belonging representation in contemporary young adult fiction.
  • The intersection between art and literature in modern poetry.
  • Themes of authority, rebellion, and revolution in medieval epic poetry.
  • Role of fantasy in horror fiction.
  • Gender, race, and class representations within British romanticism.
  • American literary realism and naturalism.
  • Influence of symbolism on French modernist poetry.
  • Construction of memory within African American autobiographies.
  • Representation of narrative time in Latin American fiction.
  • Social injustice theme during early 20th-century American drama.
  • The relationship between social identity and language during postcolonial fiction.
  • Values and beliefs representations as presented by ancient Greek mythology.

Literature Research Paper Topics for Students

For students looking for research topics in literature for study, there is a wide variety of options available. Depending on the level and course, they might focus on analyzing particular authors, literary movements, or genres, exploring the use of language throughout history, or examining representations of gender, race, and class in books. You also need to study literary devices and their effects on readers when exploring literary topics for a research paper . Below are examples of literature topics for different students:

Literature Research Paper Topics for High School

These are literature topics to research, specifically tailored to high school students. They involve exploring the influence of literary work on culture, analyzing a single author's literary movement or genre, or investigating language use throughout history. This list of research topics in literature for high school provides an original starting point for your literary project!

  • Racism as presented during early 20th-century works.
  • Social criticism within contemporary dystopian young adult fiction.
  • Folklore's impact on contemporary poetry.
  • Representation of nature in modern literature.
  • Spirituality as portrayed by reformist literature.
  • Social class representation within postmodern novels.
  • The theme of environment in romantic works.
  • Colonialism representation during postcolonial works.
  • Effects of pop culture on modern fiction.
  • Mental illness representation during 19th-century poetry.
  • The role of music and art in early 20th-century literary texts.
  • Literature's influence on identity building in minority cultures.
  • Family dynamics in postmodern poetry.
  • Family and community representations during gothic fiction.
  • Literature as a tool for social change.

Literature Research Paper Topics for College Students

These titles entail more serious and in-depth scrutiny than a high school literary paper. A college-level literary research paper topic provides students with a broader range of analysis. It encompasses looking at literature as a form of political commentary to get its relationship with other art forms. Below are literature research paper topics for college students:

  • Identity construction during postmodern poetry.
  • Alienation themes within modern fiction.
  • Gender role representations in Shakespearean tragedies.
  • The relationship between narrative and memory within Holocaust literature.
  • Nature's role in contemporary American fiction.
  • Authority and subversion themes during the early 20th-century drama.
  • Race, class, and gender representation within African American autobiographies.
  • Social media influence the literary language.
  • The relationship between social identity and language in postcolonial fiction.
  • Values as presented by ancient Greek mythology .
  • Psychological distress during 20th-century war narratives.
  • Attitudes towards mental illness as portrayed by gothic texts.
  • The relationship between science and literary imagination.
  • Social hierarchy within Victorian novels.
  • Religion's role in southern American literature.

Literary Research Paper Topics by Categories

Research paper topics for literature by category offer an exclusive and stimulating perspective on literary analysis worldwide. They can be grouped into literary movements, authors, and genres, as well as topics related to language and history. If you are interested in European, American, and English literature topics, these ideas will help you find the perfect literary research paper topic for your project.

World Literature Research Paper Topics

Research paper topics for world literature allow students to explore literary works from any part of the world, including texts written in English, Spanish, and other languages. Below is a list that provides original world literature research topics for any project:

  • Impact of colonialism on native literary traditions.
  • Gender representation within French literature.
  • Religion's role within literary works from Latin America.
  • Symbolism in English poetry from the 19th century.
  • Themes of nationalism within modern Russian fiction.
  • Power and politics in Spanish plays.
  • Conflict as portrayed by African literature.
  • The role of folklore within Chinese fiction.
  • Themes of cultural identity in Japanese drama.
  • Family ties in Italian poetry.
  • Symbolism in Arabic literature.
  • Social class representation in Indian novels.
  • Impact of globalization on middle eastern fiction.
  • Human rights themes by contemporary Australian poets.
  • Western representations of other cultures in modern literature.

American Literature Research Paper Topics

In research paper topics for American literature, you examine the works of early American writers and poets, as well as those from later periods. Here is a list of American literature topics for your paper!

  • Attitudes towards race in early American novels.
  • Colonialism during 19th-century poetry.
  • Freedom and rebellion themes within revolutionary literature.
  • The emergence of gothic horror in American fiction.
  • Impact of transcendentalism on American writing.
  • Gender representation during pre-civil war literature .
  • Themes of morality in post-World War II American fiction.
  • Role of religion during 19th-century American novels.
  • Slavery and its abolition by American poets.
  • Social class representation during early American drama.
  • Themes of identity in postmodern American fiction.
  • Industrialization of 20th-century literature.
  • War and conflict representation by contemporary American playwrights.
  • Racism in 20th-century American novels.
  • Assimilation and immigration themes in post-World War II American literature.

British Literature Research Paper Topics

In British literature research topics, you explore works from early British writers to contemporary authors. Ideally, research topics for British literature should encompass works written by authors from all eras, including Medieval, Renaissance, and modern. Here is a list of English literature research paper topics for your perfect essay!

  • Gender representation during medieval English literature.
  • Colonialism's effects on British literary works during the 18th century.
  • Influence of British writers on modern literature.
  • The role of nature in 18th-century British novels.
  • Interpretations of classic British literary works.
  • Social class representations during 19th-century British fiction.
  • Themes of love and romance within Victorian literature.
  • Industrialization's impact on 20th-century British novels.
  • Patriotism and nationalism during post-World War II literary work.
  • Multiculturalism representations in postmodern British fiction.
  • Effects of censorship on British authors during the 20th century.
  • Mental health representation in modern British poetry.
  • Representation of historical events in British works throughout time.
  • Technological representations in 21st-century British Novels.
  • Intersectionality by contemporary British playwrights.

Did you know that you can generate a bunch of title ideas using our Research Paper Topic Generator ?

European Literary Research Paper Topics

European literature research paper topics offer an excellent opportunity to explore the works of European authors. They allow you to study and analyze the academic traditions and cultures of some of Europe's most influential writers. You can find such literary research paper topic ideas in the list below:

  • Representations of the European monarchy in classic novels.
  • Censorship effects on European authors during the 20th century.
  • Impact of World War II on European authors.
  • Gender representations within Victorian poetry.
  • Literary works from different countries and cultures in Europe.
  • Use of language, symbolism, and imagery to explore themes in European texts.
  • Themes of nature and environment within German short stories.
  • Technology representations in late Victorian poetry.
  • Popular culture's influence on European literary movements from the 20th century to modern times.
  • Impact of European literary works on people's perceptions of other cultures.
  • Use of supernatural elements within European gothic writings from the 18th to 19th centuries.
  • Identity representations in French social realism texts.
  • Technology's impact on contemporary European literary works.
  • Family and community representations during post-war theater.
  • Themes of justice and injustice within European dystopian texts.

Literature Research Paper Ideas by Periods

You may aspire to find literature topics for research papers from different historical periods. This involves studying literature from various cultures or eras, such as ancient, medieval, or modern ones. These ideas also cover the examination of themes and symbols used in writings and scrutinizing characters and their development through various works. Other topics include the exploration of texts from a political perspective in relation to their historical contexts. These ideas contain some literary research topics from various periods:

Ancient Literary Research Paper Topics

There are many exciting options to consider if you're looking for ancient literature research paper topics. They can be studied with regard to history, culture, art, and philosophy. To gain more insight, you could explore the works of Homer, Henry James, Virgil, and the Mahabharata, or old Egyptian writings, such as The Iliad and Odyssey . Below is a list of ancient literature topics for research you can choose from.

  • Gender representations in epic poetry.
  • Role of mythology and religion in ancient texts.
  • Influence of philosophy on ancient literature.
  • Power representations in Greek tragedy.
  • Heroism by early epic authors.
  • Love and marriage in ancient texts.
  • Ancient narratives of war and conflict.
  • Slavery representations in Roman poetry.
  • The role of music and art in classical literature.
  • Nature representations in ancient texts.
  • Politics' influence on Greek comedy.
  • Family and community representations in roman narratives.
  • Characters' representation in epic poetry.
  • The role of technology in early literary works.
  • Representations of the divine in ancient texts.
Read more: History Research Topics for Students 

Medieval Literature Research Paper Topics

The medieval literary study provides a unique opportunity to explore literature research topics of the Middle Ages. From Beowulf to The Canterbury Tales , these works offer insights into this era's cultural beliefs and values. Here are such literary topics for research papers to focus on:

  • Representations of medieval chivalry in literary works.
  • Religion's influence on medieval works.
  • Gender representation in medieval texts.
  • The role of magic in medieval narratives.
  • The impact of feudalism on medieval texts.
  • Honor and loyalty representations by chivalric texts.
  • The role of courtly love in medieval works.
  • Knights and warriors' representations in literary works.
  • Warfare representations in medieval texts.
  • The role of education and learning in medieval literature.

Renaissance Literary Research Paper Topics

The Renaissance literature research paper ideas explore works of literature during the Renaissance era, which spanned from the 14th to the 17th century. They focus on the themes, authors, and literature of this period to provide a better understanding of how literary works have evolved within this timeframe and their impact on our current literature. Some of the most influential figures who contributed immensely to writings during this era were William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. If you are interested in researching this period, you can consider a literature research paper topic from the list below:

  • Love and romance representations in Renaissance texts.
  • Science and technology in 16th-century literature.
  • Class and social status representations in Renaissance literary works.
  • Classical mythology in Renaissance poetry.
  • Representations of family and community in Renaissance narratives.
  • Effects of humanism on Renaissance literature in Europe.
  • Imagery role by William Shakespeare .
  • Representations of art, music, and theater in Renaissance texts.
  • Politics' role in 16th-century literary texts.
  • Nature representation by John Milton or Torquato Tasso.
  • Exploration influence on Renaissance narratives.
  • Influence of Renaissance literature on modern writing.
  • Women's representation in literary texts by Anne Bradstreet or Aphra Behn.
  • Magic and supernatural representations in literary works of Renaissance.
  • Humanism and individualism themes within Renaissance literature.

Romantic Literature Research Paper Ideas

Romantic literature emerged during the late 18th century and flourished throughout the early 19th century in Europe. It is characterized by its focus on emotion and depictions of nature. This movement had a lasting impact on literary works and has been highly influential. Research topics in literature can explore the writings of authors such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth. Here are some ideas related to romanticism:

  • Nature representations in Romantic texts.
  • The role of emotion as depicted in 19th-century literature.
  • Influence of Romantic authors on modern literature and culture.
  • Women's representation in Romantic narratives.
  • Industrialization impact on 19th-century texts.
  • Influence of religion and superstition in early Romantic texts.
  • Use of technology to discuss themes in Romantic texts from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • The role of education as portrayed by Romantic narratives.
  • Character analysis and plot structure in gothic fiction.
  • Nationalism and patriotism as represented by post-Napoleonic war poems.

Modernist Literary Research Paper Topics

Modern literature emerged during the early 20th century until the end of World War II. It is characterized by a rejection of traditional conventions and focused on experimentation with form. This movement had an unprecedented impact on literature research topics and is highly influential today. If you are looking for literary topics for research papers that focus on modernism, consider exploring the following:

  • Nature representations by modern texts.
  • Social inequality in 21st-century novels.
  • Modernism's influence on current literature and culture.
  • Climate change within contemporary fiction.
  • Impact of social injustice on 20th-century literary works.
  • Urbanization representations by modern literary texts.
  • Education's influence on modernist narratives.
  • Wealth and power in early modernist texts.
  • Themes of urban life by Ezra Pound or Wallace Stevens.
  • Modernism's impact on classical literature.
  • Globalization themes within postmodern poetry.
  • Multiculturalism themes in contemporary literary works.
  • Mental health representations in modern British novels.
  • Global conflict representation in modern fiction.
  • The influence of psychoanalysis on modernist literature.

Current Literature Research Paper Ideas

Current literature paper topics can look at the latest trends. They include exploring contemporary works such as Harry Potter by J.K Rowling and Stardust by Neil Gaiman. These topics may also involve analyzing social media's effects on literary writings. If you are looking for current literary topics for a research paper, consider the following:

  • Technological impact on literary works in the 21st century.
  • Art, music, and theater in modern texts.
  • Impact of conflict on recent literary works.
  • Social injustice in 21st-century narratives.
  • Racism, ethnicity, and slavery in contemporary texts.
  • Wealth and power in recent literary works.
  • Globalization themes in postmodern poetry.
  • Urbanization in modern writings.
  • Immigration within postmodern British novels.

In case you need more paper topics, feel free to browse our blog. We have a wide arsenal of ideas starting from philosophy research paper topics to education research paper topics .  

Bottom Line on Literature Research Paper Topics

Literature topics for research can explore a wide range of themes and works. Whether you are looking for visionary ideas about poetry, fiction, or books from different eras, there is no shortage of literature paper topics to choose from. To narrow down your focus and find the best idea for your project, consider researching literary movements, reading widely, and thinking about the areas that interest you most.  Literature topics for research papers should be chosen based on students' interests and areas of expertise. By conducting in-depth research, you will gain a greater appreciation for literary work and its impact on society. With this article as a guide, you can take the time to find a topic that speaks to you and create an engaging research paper.

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Literary Analysis: Essay Prompts, Outline, & American Literature Topics

  • 📚 Literary Analysis Definition

🧩 Elements of a Literary Analysis

  • 📝 Literary Analysis Outline
  • 💡 Literary Analysis Prompts
  • 🤔 Topics for Literary Analysis
  • 🗽 American Literature Topics
  • ☘️ British & Irish Literature Topics

🌐 Classic European Literature Topics

🗺️ world literature essay topics.

It’s high time to discuss everything about literary analysis in detail!

📚 What Is Literary Analysis?

Literary analysis (literary criticism) is the process of interpreting a piece of literature. It implies a critical look at a text to understand the author’s message.

In this assignment, you trace tiny symbols and puzzles left by the author. As a reward, you get to the main idea. It is essential to differentiate a literary analysis from a summary where you just restate ideas from a text. Here, you need to dig into them and interpret them. Here are the main steps of a literary criticism process:

  • Interpretation

What Is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?

Literary analysis has several purposes. Here are some of them:

  • Understanding and interpreting the author’s point of view.
  • Looking deeper into the literary work canvas and finding new meanings in it.
  • Making up an opinion about the book.
  • Estimating a book in general, its strong and weak sides.

The proper literary analysis includes many details. You should provide not a summary but an interpretation . In the end, it can be considered a separate work.

Brainstorming and observing the following aspects makes writing more manageable.

📝 Literary Analysis Essay Outline – 3 Parts

We want to present you with a complete literary analysis outline. The parts from the section below will navigate you through writing your work.

Introduction of a Literary Analysis Essay

When writing a literary analysis, you examine the whole text and its components. So we recommend starting from the primary constituents. Here’s what you can include in your literary analysis essay intro :

  • In many cases, there’s already a lot said in the title – look at it more precisely.
  • Don’t forget to mention the author and give a piece of information about them.
  • Get the reader’s attention with a good hook . It will make the audience interested in your writing.
  • Give some background information about the book. For example, you can mention the context of when and where it was created.

Body of a Literary Analysis Essay

The body is the “fleshiest” part of your paper. Let’s see how to make it complete and exciting.

  • Introduce the contents of the section in a topic sentence .
  • Provide the reader with the evidence you’ve collected. It can be quotations, specific details from the book, or summarized sentences . Mind that you have to give your interpretations.
  • Smoothen the transition to the next paragraph with a closing sentence .

Conclusion of a Literary Analysis Essay

To wrap up your analysis, you will need a proper conclusion . Let’s look at its components:

  • A paraphrased thesis statement – reformulate your thesis preserving its main idea.
  • A summary of your work – give a quick review of the most significant points.
  • Only the information you already gave – don’t introduce any new facts.

💡5 Literary Analysis Prompts

The section below gives you clues on building an excellent literary analysis. You can choose any of them to focus your work on something specific.

1. Analyze a Character’s Behavior, Choices, and Motifs

First, you have to choose a character who resonates with you. In that case, your analysis will be more profound. You will enjoy writing it. Use the following or similar questions to perform it:

2. Compare Internal Conflict Vs. External Conflict

There is often a conflict or several in a literary work. It is something that makes a story engaging. Try to find it and put it to the test. For example, answer these questions:

3. Focus on a Specific Sentence

An author can put a lot of significance even into one sentence. If you manage to find it, you’ll get the key to understanding the whole point of the work. Try to find a sentence or several that got your attention and made you reflect on them.

4. Evaluate the Role of Setting

The setting often plays a significant role in a storyline. Look for the descriptions that may resonate with the characters’ state and the atmosphere.

5. Research the Background and Its Meaning

The majority of literary pieces resonate with historical or cultural contexts. You can use it for the analysis.

🤔 307 Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Consider the topics below for deep analysis. You’ll find titles to any taste, including American, British, and European literature.

Try our remarkable research title generator if these 300+ topics are not enough. It’s free and easy to use!

🗽 American Literature Essay Topics

  • The language and narrative in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald .
  • Analyze themes of the American Revolutionary period in literature.
  • Devil’s presence in “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  • Reunion of Daisy and Gatsby in The Great Gatsby novel by Francis Scott Fitzgerald .
  • Is “The Power of Sympathy” the first American Novel?
  • “A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland” by Kusmer .
  • Vietnam War in The Things They Carried novel by Tim O’Brien .
  • The moral education of early America in “The Power of Sympathy.”
  • A disease of Marriage in “The Story of an Hour” by Chopin.
  • Religion and public life in American Grace by Putnam .
  • The friendship in Moby Dick: should it be an example for others?
  • “A Rose for Emily”: Analysis of a short story by William Faulkner .
  • The language and themes in the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost .
  • Elaborate on race and enslavement topics pictured in Moby Dick.
  • Kate Chopin’s background in “Story of an Hour.”
  • Racism experiences in the Black Like Me book by John Griffin .
  • Research the anti-slavery narratives in early American literature.
  • Gender struggles in To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf .
  • Composition of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien .
  • Moby Dick: How did the sermon that Ishmael heard affect him?
  • Marriage in “The Awakening” Novel by Kate Chopin.
  • Behind a Convict’s Eyes by K. C. Carceral: Book review .
  • How does Walter Whitman use symbols in “Leaves of Grass”?
  • American Grace : A book by Robert Putnam and David Campbell .
  • Walt Whitman poetry: how to read and understand it?
  • Civil War history: “A Year in the South” by Ash .
  • Symbolism in “A Wall of Fire Rising” by Edwidge Danticat .
  • Walter Whitman: what are the controversial themes in “Leaves of Grass”?
  • Plot analysis of “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway.
  • What is the deistic influence in Walter Whitman’s poetry?
  • Religion in American Grace by Putnam and Campbell .
  • Harlem Renaissance in “The New Negro” by Alain Locke .
  • What does “athletic friendship” mean in Walter Whitman’s poetry?
  • An Eye For An I: Critical Analysis of Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart.”
  • Grief in the novel The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold .
  • Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain: a racist or anti-racist novel?
  • Cultural heritage in “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker .
  • Lessons learned from “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” short story by Flannery O’Connor .
  • Compare and contrast two characters of Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.
  • How to describe the American society in Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?”
  • The concepts of good and evil in Young Lions by Irwin Shaw.
  • Black women in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs .
  • Female characters in Death of a Salesman by A. Miller .
  • Compare and contrast three main characters of Irwin Shaw’s “Young Lions.”
  • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” vs. “Smooth Talk”: Connie’s character.
  • How do Holden’s relationships with people differ in “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger?
  • Analysis of different works by Edgar Allan Poe .
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller: Parallels with McCarthyism .
  • Analyze the imagery, structure, and syntax in Emily Dickinson’s poetry.
  • Chinese and American Women in Joy Luck Club novel and film.
  • The American decadence themes in Grapes of Wrath by J. Steinbeck.
  • Time in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner .
  • The theme of consequences in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe .
  • Crime and punishment in Theodor Dreiser’s “American Tragedy.”
  • How is the process of growing up reflected in “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger?
  • Can we see James Joyce’s influence in William Faulkner’s novels?
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Injustice of slavery and racism .
  • Hidden symbols in “The Storm” by Kate Chopin .
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: the metamorphoses of Jem and Scout in the novel.
  • “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams character review.
  • All the Colors We Are : Children’s anti-bias book by Kissinger.
  • What do Clyde Griffiths and Frank Cowperwood of Theodor Dreiser’s novels have in common?
  • Rhetoric in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor .
  • The Financier: can Frank Cowperwood be a role model for young and ambitious people?
  • “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steve Covey: book concepts.
  • The Sound and the Fury: how do four different perspectives of narrative help understand the novel?
  • Analysis of the play Fences by August Wilson .
  • Fate in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by F. O’Connor .
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: is Atticus a role model of a parent and a decent person?
  • “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller: Willy Loman Character Analysis.
  • Elaborate on the wide range of racist issues in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
  • Women’s struggles in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin .
  • How is American Dream depicted in “American Tragedy”?
  • Symbolism in Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.”
  • Signs of feminism in “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
  • Comparison of “The Storm” and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin .
  • American ideology in Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
  • The American dream in the play “Death of a Salesman.”
  • How does Margaret Mitchell show the war tragedy in Gone with the Wind?
  • Blindness in “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver .
  • Gender roles in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin .
  • Vanity Fair by William Thackeray: does the book’s structure allow us to call it “a novel”?
  • The importance of “The Making of a Quagmire” by David Halberstam.
  • Explore transcendentalism topic in James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans.”
  • “We Wear the Mask” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” analysis .
  • The importance of learning in “Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” by Frederick Douglass .
  • Does The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have one main idea?
  • “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath: Review .
  • The Song of Hiawatha: the struggle between vice and virtue.
  • Gender relations on the example of “Trifle” by Glaspell.
  • Real life in “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer .
  • The Song of Hiawatha: the gap between reality and the ideal.
  • Cabico’s “Check One” poem: Motif-based analysis .
  • Moral ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”
  • “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost: The poem as a metaphor .
  • Innocence vs. guilt in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe .
  • The horrors of war in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “Farewell to Arms.”
  • Dave’s character in “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright.
  • The oppression of women in “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros .
  • How does Harriette Stowe show the slavery horrors in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”?
  • “A Rose for Emily” literary analysis .
  • Fallacies in “Boxing, Doctors – Round Two” by Cohn .
  • What are the symbols and settings that make Poe’s works recognizable?
  • Analysis of «Cod» by Mark Kurlansky .
  • The hypocrisy of the civilized society in “ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn .”
  • “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair: the dark alleys of capitalism.
  • Analysis of “Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton .
  • Autobiographical motives in Jack London’s “Martin Eden.”
  • Analysis of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker .
  • Nietzschean individualism versus socialism in Jack London’s “Martin Eden.”
  • Comparison of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe .
  • Illusory of the distorted American ideals in Theodor Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie.”
  • “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker: plot analysis.
  • “American Tragedy” – a story about urbanization, modernization, and alienation.
  • “Daddy Issues” by Sandra Tsing Loh: The rhetorical analysis .
  • What is the idea of the “average” American way of life depicted in Sinclair Lewis’ “Babbitt”?
  • Dreams and hopes in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry .
  • Comparison of “Barn Burning” and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner .
  • How does Sinclair Lewis accomplish to create drama with the details?
  • The life of black people in Nella Larsen’s ‘Passing.’
  • What is the devastating cost of success in “The Great Gatsby” by F. S. Fitzgerald?
  • “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin: Review .
  • Religiousness in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by O’Connor .
  • Southern families issues in “The Sound and The Fury” by W. Faulkner.
  • “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson: description of the book and its relation to business.
  • “Light in August”: Complex and violent relations between men and women.
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson: Literary analysis .
  • Imagery and symbolism in “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane .
  • “The Sound and the Fury: are there innocent characters in the Compson family?
  • Analysis of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain .
  • The rise and decline of the Southern aristocracy in “The Snopes trilogy.”
  • “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner: the role of point of view.
  • Symbolism in the short story “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway .
  • How are the themes of struggle, pride, and death revealed in “The Old Man and the Sea”?
  • Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner .
  • “In Cold Blood”: the context for the crime created in society.
  • Gender roles in the play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams .
  • The theme of mental health in “The Yellow Wallpaper” story by Charlotte Gilman .
  • What Southern Gothic signs can we find in Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”?
  • The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter analysis.
  • “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” poem by Emily Dickinson .
  • Explore the unique style of Kurt Vonnegut in “Slaughter House Five.”
  • Cultural identity in “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker .
  • The influence of “The Cask of Amontillado” on Bierce’s work .
  • Lieutenant Jimmy Cross in “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.
  • Ethical problems in John Updike’s novel “The Centaur.”
  • Rubber hose in Death of a Salesman by Miller .

☘️ British & Irish Literature Essay Topics

  • What makes “Canterbury tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer a great piece of literature?
  • Analysis of the Hamlet play by William Shakespeare .
  • What figures of speech does G. Chaucer use to create a humorous narrative in “Canterbury Tales”?
  • The image of clergy in “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Satire by Jonathan Swift in “A Modest Proposal” essay.
  • If the “Faerie Queene” is a great “national” epic, what idea of the English nation does the poem create?
  • The idea of dreaming in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare .
  • Beowulf: is it a “perfect” hero from the Christian perspective ?
  • A separate individual and societal system in Dickens’ novel “Little Dorrit.”
  • The Character of Leggatt in “The Secret Sharer” by Joseph Conrad.
  • Why did Edmund Spencer invent a poetic diction for his poem, and does that language work?
  • The play Hamlet as a tragedy .
  • Are Romeo and Juliet a play about revenge? Why?
  • What racism issues are presented in “Othello”?
  • Describe Othello as a tragic hero in Shakespeare’s play.
  • Explore the imagery in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”
  • Feminism in “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” by M. Wollstonecraft .
  • Female characters in the novel “David Copperfield” by C. Dickens.
  • Is the poem “Paradise Lost” morally conflicted? Why?
  • Themes in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
  • The images of fairies and elves in Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
  • A system of moral standards in Robin Hood’s cycle of stories.
  • Victor in “Frankenstein,” the novel by Mary Shelley.
  • The hero and author images in P. Sidney’s “Astrophil and Stella.”
  • Explore the imagery in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”
  • Themes in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad .
  • Thomas Heywood “A Woman Killed with Kindness”: family drama genre.
  • Romeo and Juliet: the problem of love and freedom.
  • Impact of gender in Shakespeare’s Othello.
  • The image of the villain in Shakespeare’s “Othello.”
  • Society criticism in “Careless Lovers” by Edward Ravenscroft .
  • What functions do the supernatural powers perform in “Macbeth”?
  • The Merchant of Venice: the topics of justice and mercy in the play.
  • Review of “The Victorian Internet,” the book by Tom Standage.
  • The peculiarities of the author’s irony in John Donne’s “Songs and sonnets.”
  • The character of Victor in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley .
  • The symbolic images of dreams and thunderstorms in John Donne’s poetry.
  • Arcadian motives in Andrew Marvel’s lyrics.
  • “Othello” by William Shakespeare: racism problem.
  • How is the image of Satan presented in J. Milton’s poetry?
  • Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelly .
  • Compare the image of the lost innocence in Milton’s and Dante’s poetry.
  • “The Alchemist” by Ben Jonson: the problems of style.
  • Ophelia’s Character in Shakespeare’s Play “Hamlet.”
  • The genre and method in the play “Volpone” by Ben Johnson.
  • Analysis of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge .
  • What unique features of the composition does the play “The Changeling” by T. Middleton include?
  • “Perkin Warbeck” by John Ford: theatrical satire genre uniqueness.
  • How is madness portrayed in William Shakespeare’s “Play King Lear”?
  • The traveling theme in D. Defoe’s “The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.”
  • The message in the poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by D. Thomas .
  • J. Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”: utopia and dystopia in the novel.
  • The satire in J. Swift’s pamphlet “A Tale of a Tub.”
  • Different nations in “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift.
  • A. Pope’s “Windsor-Forest”: specifics of the arcadian motives and plot.
  • Satan, Adam, and Eve in “Paradise Lost” Poem by John Milton .
  • The primary functions of the “Don Quixote mask” in G. Fielding’s “Don Quixote in England.”
  • “Middlemarch” by G. Eliot: the problem of cognition in the novel.
  • Women in Shakespeare’s and Chaucer’s works.
  • Ideals and symbols in “The Corsair” by Byron.
  • Gender in “The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare .
  • The themes of literature and writing in the novel “The Black Prince” by I. Murdoch.
  • Symbols in the novel “David Copperfield” by C. Dickens.
  • Shakespearean Hamlet’s character analysis.
  • “The Quiet American” by G. Greene: love and duty motives.
  • Costumes, mood, and tone in the play “Macbeth” by Shakespeare .
  • The specifics of the sentimentalism in R. Burn’s poetry.
  • English romanticism traditions in “The Wuthering Heights.”
  • Romeo from “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare.
  • The themes of unity and alienation in “The Wuthering Heights” by E. Bronte.
  • The inner and outer beauty in Ch. Bronte’s “Jane Air.”
  • “To Be or Not to Be”: Prominent Phrase Analysis.
  • Egoism and altruism in “Oliver Twist” by C. Dickens.
  • Themes in “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood .
  • Social problematics in the novel “Bleak House” by C. Dickens.
  • The themes of the ambitions and happiness in the novel “Big Expectations” by Charles Dickens.
  • “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens: characters, themes, and stylistic choices.
  • Gender issues in the novel “Big Expectations” by Charles Dickens.
  • The issues of female emancipation in the novel “The Mill on the Floss” by G. Eliot.
  • The role of the Bible in “Paradise Lost” by John Milton .
  • The narrator’s role in the novel “The Code of the Woosters” by P. Woodhouse.
  • The role of the detective storyline in G. Greene’s “Brighton Rock.”
  • Gender and Sexuality in William Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Tradition and personality in the novel “1984” by G. Orwell.
  • H. Hesse “Steppenwolf”: the spiritual quest of the characters.
  • Existential searching in the novel “The Glass Bead Game” by H. Hesse.
  • Candide and Pangloss characters and relationship analysis .
  • Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” as a historical novel of a peculiar style.
  • The meaning of laughter in Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose.”
  • Is Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” a detective novel?
  • The problematics of the book “Foucault’s Pendulum” by U. Eco.
  • The image of Beatrice in Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”
  • Oedipus: Sophocles’ character.
  • Dante’s “Divine Comedy”: the system of characters and level of perception.
  • The specifics of narrative style in M. Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time.”
  • The problematic characters in the novel “The End of the Night” by F. Mauriac.
  • Therese Desqueyroux by François Mauriac: the image of family as a cage.
  • “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles: fate versus character.
  • The rebel against injustice in Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus.”
  • The theme of alienation in Albert Camus’ “The Stranger.”
  • The motives of doom of time and man in Gottfried Benn’s poetry.
  • How does Thomas Mann show the decay of the burgher’s social class in “Buddenbrooks”?
  • The genre of a family saga in Thomas Mann’s “Buddenbrooks.”
  • Prophecy and fate. “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles.
  • The creativity collapse in “Doctor Faustus” by T. Mann.
  • The tragedy of the genius in B. Brecht’s “The Life of Galileo.”
  • B. Brecht’s “The Life of Galileo”: the moral dilemma between genius and villainy.
  • The theme of metamorphosis in the novel “The Trial” by F. Kafka.
  • Autobiographical family drama in the novel “Metamorphosis” by F. Kafka.
  • The themes of alienation and loneliness in Franz Kafka’s novel “Metamorphosis.”
  • An individual in the society in the novel “A Man without qualities” by Robert Musil.
  • Jaroslav Hashek’s “The Fate of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War”: the denial of war and perception of it as madness.
  • The symbol of the sick people in The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka .
  • The corruptive influence of the army in Jaroslav Hashek’s “The Fate of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War.”
  • Pacifistic motives in Karel Chapek’s work “Salamander War.”
  • The prophecy of historical events in Karel Capek’s novel “Salamander War.”
  • The theme of history in the poetry of Antonio Machado: Fields of Castile.
  • Federico Lorca’s Poet in New York: the problematics and style.
  • Federico Lorca’s Poet in New York: the image of New York and American reality.
  • The Thousand & One Nights: folk collection overview.
  • “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Becket: autobiographical experience of occupied France.
  • “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Becket: the peculiarities of language, speech, and dialogues .
  • Allegorical presentation of society in the play “Rhinoceros” by E. Ionesco.
  • “In the Labyrinth” by Alain Robbe-Grillet: what meaning does the detailed description of things have?
  • The features of anti-novel in the “Golden Fruits” by Natali Sarot.
  • “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles .
  • Patrick Suskind’s “Perfume” as a perfect example of a postmodernist novel.
  • The levels of the novel “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind.
  • Reflections on friendship and love in the novel “Hello Sadness” by Françoise Sagan.
  • The tragedy of disunity and loneliness in “The Time of Indifference” by Alberto Moravia.
  • Analysis of important quotations from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen .
  • “The Time of Indifference” by Alberto Moravia: why do the characters remain static?
  • The image of Rome in the story cycle “Roman Tales” by A. Moravia.
  • Magic realism in the novel “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Servantes: the “insanity” of the main character.
  • “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy: the concepts of love and duty.
  • The peculiarities of women characters in “The Trial” by Franz Kafka.
  • The theme of love in “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert.
  • “The Dog in the Manger” by Lope De Vega: the specifics of Italian comedy.
  • Voltaire’s “Candid”: forming of individual personality.
  • The concept of the Enlightenment person in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Emile, or On Education.”
  • Goethe’s “Faust”: biblical references.
  • The peculiarities and imagery of F. Schiller’s poetry.
  • The ideological and artistic uniqueness of H. Heine’s poetry.
  • The genuineness of historical figures in “Danton’s Death” by George Buchner.
  • The theme of love in “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque.
  • The lost generation theme in “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque.
  • Identity formation in “Persepolis” by Satrapi .
  • Analysis of Things Fall Apart , a novel by Chinua Achebe .
  • Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller: Summary & themes .
  • Cultural clash in “Dead Men’s Path” by Chinua Achebe .
  • Igbo society in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe .
  • The theme of virtue in “The Tale of Kieu” by Nguyen Du .
  • Women’s struggles in “Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang .
  • The character of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe .
  • The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith .
  • Personal mythology based on “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe .
  • The theme of love in the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini .
  • Vietnam War in Last Night I Dreamed of Peace by Dang Thuy Tram.
  • “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro.

🔗 References

  • How to write a literary analysis essay | Bucks County Community College
  • A short guide to close reading for literary analysis; The Writing Center; UW – Madison
  • University Writing Center – Literary Analysis
  • How to write literary analysis – Sparknotes
  • University Writing Center (UWC) – Analyzing Novels & Short Stories
  • Writing Prompts for Analyzing Fiction // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Summary vs. Analysis | UAGC Writing Center
  • Teaching Literary Analysis | Edutopia
  • Writing a Literary Analysis – English Resources – Resources by Subject at C. G. O’Kelly Library

414 Proposal Essay Topics for Projects, Research, & Proposal Arguments

725 research proposal topics & title ideas in education, psychology, business, & more.

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Literature Topics and Research

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What kinds of topics are good ones?

The best topics are ones that originate out of your own reading of a work of literature, but here are some common approaches to consider:

  • A discussion of a work's characters: are they realistic, symbolic, historically-based?
  • A comparison/contrast of the choices different authors or characters make in a work
  • A reading of a work based on an outside philosophical perspective (Ex. how would a Freudian read Hamlet ?)
  • A study of the sources or historical events that occasioned a particular work (Ex. comparing G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion with the original Greek myth of Pygmalion)
  • An analysis of a specific image occurring in several works (Ex. the use of moon imagery in certain plays, poems, novels)
  • A "deconstruction" of a particular work (Ex. unfolding an underlying racist worldview in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness )
  • A reading from a political perspective (Ex. how would a Marxist read William Blake's "London"?)
  • A study of the social, political, or economic context in which a work was written — how does the context influence the work?

How do I start research?

Once you have decided on an interesting topic and work (or works), the best place to start is probably the Internet. Here you can usually find basic biographical data on authors, brief summaries of works, possibly some rudimentary analyses, and even bibliographies of sources related to your topic.

The Internet, however, rarely offers serious direct scholarship; you will have to use sources found in the library, sources like journal articles and scholarly books, to get information that you can use to build your own scholarship-your literary paper. Consult the library's on-line catalog and the MLA Periodical Index. Avoid citing dictionary or encyclopedic sources in your final paper.

How do I use the information I find?

The secondary sources you find are only to be used as an aid. Your thoughts should make up most of the essay. As you develop your thesis, you will bring in the ideas of the scholars to back up what you have already said.

For example, say you are arguing that Huck Finn is a Christ figure ; that's your basic thesis. You give evidence from the novel that allows this reading, and then, at the right place, you might say the following, a paraphrase:

According to Susan Thomas, Huck sacrifices himself because he wants to set Jim free (129).

If the scholar states an important idea in a memorable way, use a direct quote.

"Huck's altruism and feelings of compassion for Jim force him to surrender to the danger" (Thomas 129).

Either way, you will then link that idea to your thesis.

  • How It Works
  • Essay Examples

Tops 50 Literary Essay Topics

Literature courses are usually all about reading and then writing about what you have just read. Sometimes, it’s quite hard to comprehend what you are reading about, let alone to write an essay and analyze everything. Luckily for you, this article will summarize all the literary analysis topics and ideas you might come across and it will provide insights that will help you a lot when you start writing a good-quality literary essay.

Handy Tips for Composing Good Literary Essays

Before we go to the themes and topics you can approach when writing a literary essay , let’s first take a quick look at some basic rules that you need to keep in mind when writing about literature. It’s nothing too complicated but remembering these rules and applying them when writing could definitely change the end result. Here are 3 things you’d want to take into consideration:

  • Make sure you follow the proper format when writing about literature. A good essay example in this direction is that of titles that should be written in Italic and if we’re referring to poems and short stories, the titles should be between quote marks.
  • If you add quotes to your essay, always make sure you mark them down correctly with the exact location of the quote you are referring to in the original paper.
  • Try to avoid quoting directly or borrowing arguments from other literary essays or analytical papers. It could be considered a form of plagiarism by some of the teachers and you don’t want that.

One final thought before jumping into the subject of topics and ideas for your literary essays. Keep in mind that the topics and fine details are important but you need to have a strong understanding of the basics in order to have a good product. In other words, you need to have a straightforward introduction, a well-defined body, and a strong and comprehensive conclusion.

How to Write Perfect Shakespeare Essays

If you’re studying English, there’s no way in the world to do that without going through the work of William Shakespeare and that’s the main reason we will be starting this article with a list of Shakespeare-based essay topics. Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most used topic by students all over the world, however, there are still a lot of good essay examples that you can use. Here are some helpful topics if you need to write a Shakespearean literary analysis essay.

Romeo and Juliet

Even though there are a lot of essay examples on this subject all over the internet and the feeling is that you can’t possibly find a new topic on the subject, here are some ideas that you can use to start your paper.

Fate’s Role in Romeo and Juliet

It’s common knowledge that Romeo and Juliet are the first star-crossed lovers in literature. And there are all kinds of clues that Shakespeare introduced all over the text that their love story was, up to a point, sealed by fate.

Dark and Light in Romeo and Juliet

Light and dark, both from a contrast point of view but as well as moments of their love story are present throughout this literary piece. Actually, it is embedded in the entire language of the play and even the character of Romeo has these characteristics present while dealing with contradictory feelings.

Time in Romeo and Juliet

Another very interesting subject for a good-quality essay is the matter of time and the love story between the two characters. Romeo comes to visit during the night and always makes promises of a return in the future. All these happen in a play that has a total timeline of around a week, symbolizing how short our time really is.

Love in Romeo and Juliet

Even though it might seem to be a predictable topic at first glance, love is and will be the ultimate theme and symbol of Romeo and Juliet. The tragic destiny is that the bond of the couple has become a theme for romantic fatalism and that’s the reason it is the number one topic in the literary essays written about Shakespeare’s work.

The competition between Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet in which piece of work of Shakespeare is the most assigned in English courses is tight, however, we’d like to consider Hamlet to be in the second place simply because of the sheer volume of essays written on Romeo and Juliet. If you’re going to focus on this monumental play written by the English genius, here are some topics that should help.

Hamlet and Mortality

If you look closely at Shakespeare’s work, you will notice that a lot of the characters end up dead. Hamlet makes no exception to this rule and there’s so much to analyze and speculate about mortality in this play that you should be just great and write a pretty big essay on this topic.

Misogyny and Women in Hamlet

The play takes place in a time when women did not have too many rights or a certain place in society. You can clearly see that in characters like Ophelia or Gertrude that are not treated well at all. They’d make the main subject of an essay regarding the place of women in the society of those times.

Hamlet and the Theme of Madness

If you’re going to write an essay on Hamlet, you can’t leave out the motive of madness. Just like an essay on Romeo and Juliet couldn’t go without the theme of love, madness is one of the essential characteristics of the play.

The shortest of the mandatory Shakespearean plays, Macbeth is just as full of symbols and meaningful themes and motives that can easily turn into a good literary essay. Here are just a few that you can focus on when writing a piece on Macbeth.

Ambition and Its Corrupting Influence

The main character of this play is in the middle of a quest and there are several moments when he alone decides that the ends justify the means, a theme that can be exploited as an essay topic. Alternatively, you can focus on Lady Macbeth that has quite the same philosophy when it comes to her goals.

Witchcraft in Macbeth

The prophecies issued by the three witches are the main reason why Macbeth is set into action. This theme is often left aside when considering good essay topics in the favor of Lady Macbeth sleepwalking. You could really build something interesting if you choose such a topic since the world of the supernatural is always appealing and attractive.

Another great play by Shakespeare that can be the base of a lot of essay topics. Many of those that had the honor to play the king in this piece have sustained that it’s one of the most intriguing roles due to the king’s slow descent into madness, making him one great essay topic. Apart from that, madness itself is a great approach if you’re going to write a literary essay based on King Lear.

You wouldn’t consider a sonnet to be a good essay topic, however, Sonnet 18 is so succinct and rich in meaning that it can actually give you at least two or three essay topics. First of all, you have adoration and love, which can be a very inspiring topic. Besides that, you have the ever-present theme of jealousy that can, again, make a great topic.

Essays Beyond Shakespeare

It’s natural that the literature world doesn’t end with Shakespeare but it certainly starts there. In the following rows, we will analyze other relevant essay topics derived from big titles of other famous English writers.

Night by Elie Wiesel

This memoir of the holocaust and the events that surrounded it is quite difficult to read for students, the reason why it is often avoided. But what can you do when your teacher requests a Night essay? Well, obviously, you need to start looking for some good topics that will help you develop the structure of the piece you’ll be writing. We’ll give you a helping hand with that by letting you know that you definitely have to touch the subjects of religious faith and the inhuman side of people that are put in extreme situations. When you’re not dealing with fictional literature, it may seem easier to find good topics so the list can go on.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

The story of the 22-year-old McCandless Christopher also known as Alex Supertramp, who decides to abandon society and the modern world to take a 2-year trip into the wilderness of the US. There are a lot of topics and themes that can be extracted from this book. Among them, the escape from society, rebellion against the rules, and sheer power of nature are the favorites when deciding to write a literary essay.

Essays on Ancient Greek Literature

The literature from those times gained a timeless stamp due to the fact that it is so old and is still present in the educational system and did not lose any of its value. From another perspective, since thousands of years have passed between the time these works were written and the moment you have to write an essay on them, the vast majority of topics have already been approached in other works. But even so, there are some things that can be done to bring something new into literary essays based on ancient books.

The Republic – Plato

Plato is, without a doubt, one of the most influential philosophers in the Western World so you can imagine that writing a paper on his very powerful ‘The Republic’ is not at all an easy task. Before you start writing anything, you should take some time and understand the philosophic approach that Plato had. After that, you will be able to find a lot of topics about ‘The Republic’ such as human nature, fight for power, and hierarchy.

Antigone – Sophocles

Another great mind of those times, Sophocles had some really interesting views that he shared in his masterpiece ‘Antigone’. If you’re looking for topics and themes to write about, you can easily go with civil disobedience, human law, and even faithfulness and honor.

Literary Analysis Topic on the Subject of Race

The subject of race was of a great interest to a lot of writers and a lot of books have this subject as a central piece. If you’re looking to write an essay that touches the subject of race, you should definitely take the following works into consideration.

Waiting for the Barbarians – J.M Coetzee

‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ is quite a powerful piece of work that even brought the author a Nobel Prize for Literature. Talking about such an award-winning work, if you were to do a summary of it, you should definitely approach the topic of tension between the fictional town-colony and the surrounding population.

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

This is the story of Marlow and his journey on the Congo River. On his journey, he meets an ivory trader called Kurtz and there are a lot of themes being explored in the book: imperialism, racism, and even how civil the western society is compared to the indigenous population.

Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Mark Twain is very famous for his fictional pieces that really appeal to a lot of true characteristics that can be found in the society. Huckleberry Finn makes no exception and it includes a lot of characters that depict the political class and the struggle that the population was left with. If you were to write a piece on this book, themes like slavery versus freedom or man versus nature are a must.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This is another example of a great classic. Like a lot of other great pieces of the 20th century, Harper Lee’s book is focused on the South of America and it explores a lot of subjects of justice and race.

Profound Literary Analysis Topics in Women’s Literature

We approached this subject a bit when we were discussing Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, but it’s time to go deeper into the subject and check out some books dedicated to gender and the place of women in society.

The Works of Alice Walker

Alice Walker is a great literary figure of the 20th century, being the author of a lot of notable books and short stories. From all her portfolio, two works are the musts when it comes to literary analysis.

The Color Purple

Perhaps the most famous work of Alice Walker, this book won a lot of awards for the way it approaches themes like racism, sexism, and modification of traditional gender purpose in the society. All these topics can be successfully used for in-depth literary essays as well.

Everyday Use

This is a short story that approaches the subject of heirloom possessions that are being passed from one generation to another. These are also the main themes and topics that can be used if we are talking about essays since the differences between generations are something quite hot nowadays.

Jane Austin’s Works

Even though she departed early, the talent she has shown was tremendous and the breakthroughs she managed to obtain were incredible for a woman living at the end of the 18th century. She explored the role of women in that society and focused on how much hard work they had to do in order to secure respectable places in society.

Pride and Prejudice

Wealth and social position are just two of the main themes and topics of this book that follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet that must choose between two men. One is a better individual from a moral and physical point of view while the other has a better social position. The topic here is clearly about how wealth can change someone’s standards and it also makes a good essay starting point.

Yet another book that fits perfectly in the pattern we were discussing above, Emma is the tale of a woman that is more interested in seeing her sisters married. This book explores the constraints placed upon women in that period and the symbolism of marriage in that society.

The 19th and 20th Century Period

A lot of the literary works that are now studied by English students were completed in the golden era that included the 19th and the 20th centuries. Everything from extraordinary novels to short poems is providing insight into topics that define the Anglophone world and can as well be used in a lot of literary essays.

Part of ‘The Adventures of the Speckled Band’, Sherlock Holmes arose as a very influential character among teachers and students. Essays on the topics of good versus evil and overall order in chaos are among the favorites when writing an essay on this short story.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Yet another awesome example of what the golden period of writing had to offer to readers and essay writers alike. The topics approached in this title are shaping around the dangers of group thinking and how irrationality and rationality are sometimes in conflict that is then expanded into morality or immorality.

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

A very entertaining book that was also transformed into a movie touches the topics of the arbitrary nature of history and time and how love tends to conquer all in the end.

The Rocking Horse Winner – D. H. Lawrence

Lawrence is one of the geniuses of the 20th century in literature and this short story is the best demonstration of his skill. It tells the story of a family that struggles and the main themes that are being explored are greed, money, and a bit of fiction.

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

This book captures the struggles of medium-class individuals during the Great Depression. The central theme is the following of dreams and how powerful the human spirit is when it has a clear goal to fight for.

A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams

Considered by most the best-known American dramatic play, it approaches the themes of fantasy and reality in an eternal conflict as well as the era’s tendency of women to depend on men.

Topics and Themes for Analysis of Poetry

Stephen Crane gave the world ‘War is Kind’, a collection of poems that touched deep and powerful themes such as war, violence, and human greed and all the inspiration came from his personal experience with the American-Spanish and Greco-Turkish wars.You can use it for your poem analysis essay .

John Donne, a total opposite of Stephen Crane, focused his work on sonnets that approached the topics of love, death, religion, and social criticism. It’s true that they lived in different times as well.

Contemporary Literature

If you’re thinking it’s a pity you were born in these times because no good books are written anymore, you are mistaken. What we now consider big classics were not so hot during their times either and that’s the cycle of literature, to become valuable a certain time after the book is released. So, if you want to go with contemporary literature for your essay, here are some suggestions.

Reservation Blues – Sherman Alexie

Depicting the story of a young group of men that get their hands on an enchanted guitar that once upon a time belonged to a legendary bluesman, the book touches sensitive subjects of the Native American life such as endurance, overcoming everyday obstacles, and poverty.

Montana 1948 – Larry Watson

Set in Western American state of Montana, this novella is about a family that struggles to survive in the tough conditions they have to face. Themes of loyalty, family obligations and bonds or even justice are approached by Watson and they can be great sources of inspiration for good essays.

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

This book follows the story of Susie, a young woman that dies but her spirit leaves the body and watches over the investigation of her case. Obviously, the recurrent themes here are justice, mortality, and grief.

Feel free to explore other essay title examples in our blog.

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130 New Prompts for Argumentative Writing

Questions on everything from mental health and sports to video games and dating. Which ones inspire you to take a stand?

literature essays topics

By The Learning Network

Note: We have an updated version of this list, with 300 new argumentative writing prompts .

What issues do you care most about? What topics do you find yourself discussing passionately, whether online, at the dinner table, in the classroom or with your friends?

In Unit 5 of our free yearlong writing curriculum and related Student Editorial Contest , we invite students to research and write about the issues that matter to them, whether that’s Shakespeare , health care , standardized testing or being messy .

But with so many possibilities, where does one even begin? Try our student writing prompts.

In 2017, we compiled a list of 401 argumentative writing prompts , all drawn from our daily Student Opinion column . Now, we’re rounding up 130 more we’ve published since then ( available here as a PDF ). Each prompt links to a free Times article as well as additional subquestions that can help you think more deeply about it.

You might use this list to inspire your own writing and to find links to reliable resources about the issues that intrigue you. But even if you’re not participating in our contest, you can use these prompts to practice the kind of low-stakes writing that can help you hone your argumentation skills.

So scroll through the list below with questions on everything from sports and mental health to dating and video games and see which ones inspire you to take a stand.

Please note: Many of these prompts are still open to comment by students 13 and up.

Technology & Social Media

1. Do Memes Make the Internet a Better Place? 2. Does Online Public Shaming Prevent Us From Being Able to Grow and Change? 3. How Young Is Too Young to Use Social Media? 4. Should the Adults in Your Life Be Worried by How Much You Use Your Phone? 5. Is Your Phone Love Hurting Your Relationships? 6. Should Kids Be Social Media Influencers? 7. Does Grammar Still Matter in the Age of Twitter? 8. Should Texting While Driving Be Treated Like Drunken Driving? 9. How Do You Think Technology Affects Dating?

10. Are Straight A’s Always a Good Thing? 11. Should Schools Teach You How to Be Happy? 12. How Do You Think American Education Could Be Improved? 13. Should Schools Test Their Students for Nicotine and Drug Use? 14. Can Social Media Be a Tool for Learning and Growth in Schools? 15. Should Facial Recognition Technology Be Used in Schools? 16. Should Your School Day Start Later? 17. How Should Senior Year in High School Be Spent? 18. Should Teachers Be Armed With Guns? 19. Is School a Place for Self-Expression? 20. Should Students Be Punished for Not Having Lunch Money? 21. Is Live-Streaming Classrooms a Good Idea? 22. Should Gifted and Talented Education Be Eliminated? 23. What Are the Most Important Things Students Should Learn in School? 24. Should Schools Be Allowed to Censor Student Newspapers? 25. Do You Feel Your School and Teachers Welcome Both Conservative and Liberal Points of View? 26. Should Teachers and Professors Ban Student Use of Laptops in Class? 27. Should Schools Teach About Climate Change? 28. Should All Schools Offer Music Programs? 29. Does Your School Need More Money? 30. Should All Schools Teach Cursive? 31. What Role Should Textbooks Play in Education? 32. Do Kids Need Recess?

College & Career

33. What Is Your Reaction to the College Admissions Cheating Scandal? 34. Is the College Admissions Process Fair? 35. Should Everyone Go to College? 36. Should College Be Free? 37. Are Lavish Amenities on College Campuses Useful or Frivolous? 38. Should ‘Despised Dissenters’ Be Allowed to Speak on College Campuses? 39. How Should the Problem of Sexual Assault on Campuses Be Addressed? 40. Should Fraternities Be Abolished? 41. Is Student Debt Worth It?

Mental & Physical Health

42. Should Students Get Mental Health Days Off From School? 43. Is Struggle Essential to Happiness? 44. Does Every Country Need a ‘Loneliness Minister’? 45. Should Schools Teach Mindfulness? 46. Should All Children Be Vaccinated? 47. What Do You Think About Vegetarianism? 48. Do We Worry Too Much About Germs? 49. What Advice Should Parents and Counselors Give Teenagers About Sexting? 50. Do You Think Porn Influences the Way Teenagers Think About Sex?

Race & Gender

51. How Should Parents Teach Their Children About Race and Racism? 52. Is America ‘Backsliding’ on Race? 53. Should All Americans Receive Anti-Bias Education? 54. Should All Companies Require Anti-Bias Training for Employees? 55. Should Columbus Day Be Replaced With Indigenous Peoples Day? 56. Is Fear of ‘The Other’ Poisoning Public Life? 57. Should the Boy Scouts Be Coed? 58. What Is Hard About Being a Boy?

59. Can You Separate Art From the Artist? 60. Are There Subjects That Should Be Off-Limits to Artists, or to Certain Artists in Particular? 61. Should Art Come With Trigger Warnings? 62. Should Graffiti Be Protected? 63. Is the Digital Era Improving or Ruining the Experience of Art? 64. Are Museums Still Important in the Digital Age? 65. In the Age of Digital Streaming, Are Movie Theaters Still Relevant? 66. Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse? 67. What Stereotypical Characters Make You Cringe? 68. Do We Need More Female Superheroes? 69. Do Video Games Deserve the Bad Rap They Often Get? 70. Should Musicians Be Allowed to Copy or Borrow From Other Artists? 71. Is Listening to a Book Just as Good as Reading It? 72. Is There Any Benefit to Reading Books You Hate?

73. Should Girls and Boys Sports Teams Compete in the Same League? 74. Should College Athletes Be Paid? 75. Are Youth Sports Too Competitive? 76. Is It Selfish to Pursue Risky Sports Like Extreme Mountain Climbing? 77. How Should We Punish Sports Cheaters? 78. Should Technology in Sports Be Limited? 79. Should Blowouts Be Allowed in Youth Sports? 80. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams and Their Fans to Use Native American Names, Imagery and Gestures?

81. Is It Wrong to Focus on Animal Welfare When Humans Are Suffering? 82. Should Extinct Animals Be Resurrected? If So, Which Ones? 83. Are Emotional-Support Animals a Scam? 84. Is Animal Testing Ever Justified? 85. Should We Be Concerned With Where We Get Our Pets? 86. Is This Exhibit Animal Cruelty or Art?

Parenting & Childhood

87. Who Should Decide Whether a Teenager Can Get a Tattoo or Piercing? 88. Is It Harder to Grow Up in the 21st Century Than It Was in the Past? 89. Should Parents Track Their Teenager’s Location? 90. Is Childhood Today Over-Supervised? 91. How Should Parents Talk to Their Children About Drugs? 92. What Should We Call Your Generation? 93. Do Other People Care Too Much About Your Post-High School Plans? 94. Do Parents Ever Cross a Line by Helping Too Much With Schoolwork? 95. What’s the Best Way to Discipline Children? 96. What Are Your Thoughts on ‘Snowplow Parents’? 97. Should Stay-at-Home Parents Be Paid? 98. When Do You Become an Adult?

Ethics & Morality

99. Why Do Bystanders Sometimes Fail to Help When They See Someone in Danger? 100. Is It Ethical to Create Genetically Edited Humans? 101. Should Reporters Ever Help the People They Are Covering? 102. Is It O.K. to Use Family Connections to Get a Job? 103. Is $1 Billion Too Much Money for Any One Person to Have? 104. Are We Being Bad Citizens If We Don’t Keep Up With the News? 105. Should Prisons Offer Incarcerated People Education Opportunities? 106. Should Law Enforcement Be Able to Use DNA Data From Genealogy Websites for Criminal Investigations? 107. Should We Treat Robots Like People?

Government & Politics

108. Does the United States Owe Reparations to the Descendants of Enslaved People? 109. Do You Think It Is Important for Teenagers to Participate in Political Activism? 110. Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16? 111. What Should Lawmakers Do About Guns and Gun Violence? 112. Should Confederate Statues Be Removed or Remain in Place? 113. Does the U.S. Constitution Need an Equal Rights Amendment? 114. Should National Monuments Be Protected by the Government? 115. Should Free Speech Protections Include Self Expression That Discriminates? 116. How Important Is Freedom of the Press? 117. Should Ex-Felons Have the Right to Vote? 118. Should Marijuana Be Legal? 119. Should the United States Abolish Daylight Saving Time? 120. Should We Abolish the Death Penalty? 121. Should the U.S. Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Weapons? 122. Should the U.S. Get Rid of the Electoral College? 123. What Do You Think of President Trump’s Use of Twitter? 124. Should Celebrities Weigh In on Politics? 125. Why Is It Important for People With Different Political Beliefs to Talk to Each Other?

Other Questions

126. Should the Week Be Four Days Instead of Five? 127. Should Public Transit Be Free? 128. How Important Is Knowing a Foreign Language? 129. Is There a ‘Right Way’ to Be a Tourist? 130. Should Your Significant Other Be Your Best Friend?

TheHighSchooler

100+ Literary Essay Topics For High Schoolers

Essay writing is an important activity that helps assess conceptual knowledge as well as writing skills. Students come across a variety of literary works like stories, plays, news items, etc. By writing a literary essay , they analyze and present their view of these works. The literary essay can also be written on topics that youth can easily relate to.

Literary essay writing differs from creative writing . You may need to stick to facts unlike the latter where you employ imaginative skills to put together a write-up.

As a teacher, you may need to have a repertoire of literary topics that can be given to high school students. Homeschoolers may also fulfill their needs to have essay topics in hand and stay aligned with the curriculum’s requirements. Take a look at the following list of literary essay topics that complement your needs to help the high school students express themselves.

Do you know what a literary essay means?

Well, it is nothing but the assessment of any general problem, a book, an entertainment material like movie or play, or a research paper. The focus is not on the correctness of the coverage of the topic but on the use of literary devices, and the way various presentation materials are employed in developing the essay.

The literary essay does not check your understanding; hence, you can write freely without thinking of getting judged.

Here is the list of literary essay topics that you can give to high school students as an activity, project, or homework.

Literary essay topics on School Issues

  • Analyze the effects of bullying in the school
  • Need of providing accommodations to dyslexic high schoolers
  • Impact of weekend activities on the overall development
  • Top rejuvenation activities to do during the summer break
  • Review summer internship programs
  • Are tests and quizzes really necessary in high school?
  • Ways to improve curriculum for high school
  • Long answers Vs. Short Summaries – What is more effective?
  • Role of psychological counseling in high school
  • Mobile phones should not be allowed in classes
  • School uniform – a must or just a burden?
  • Public speaking course is good for all
  • State of Library in your school
  • Should accommodations during tests be provided to all?
  • Importance of questioning the concepts
  • Do you support college fee cancellation?
  • Ways to support education of homeless children
  • Evaluate summer internship programs of your choice
  • Equality should be taught to children in school
  • Education and employment – Examine relationship

Literary essay topics on English literature

  • Portrayal of women in ‘Othello’
  • Relationships in ‘Pride and Prejudice’
  • Main characters of ‘Pride and Prejudice’
  • Jane Austen Vs. Thomas Hardy
  • Romance in Thomas Hardy
  • Societal influences in ‘Wuthering Heights’
  • Portrayal of Romance in ‘Wuthering Heights’
  • Explore justice and racism in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
  • Main characters in ‘The Scarlet Letter’
  • Central idea of the novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’
  • Tragedy in ‘Macbeth’
  • Economic depression in ‘Of Mice and Men’
  • Main characters and their bonding in ‘Of Mice and Men’
  • Central theme of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’
  • Mental state of the central character in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’
  • Monarchy in ‘Hamlet’
  • What does ‘Animal Farm’ symbolize?
  • Presentation of Future American Society in ‘Fahrenheit 451’
  • Main characters of ‘The Crucible’
  • Literary devices in ‘Animal Farm’
  • Madness behind ambition in ‘Macbeth’
  • Vengeance in ‘The Wuthering Heights’
  • Expectations of Society explained in ‘Frankenstein’
  • Animated character developed in ‘Frankenstein’
  • Tragedy in ‘The Crucible’
  • Superstitious acts in ‘The Crucible’
  • Social Injustice in ‘Oliver Twist’
  • Review of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain
  • Literary devices in ‘Harry Potter’
  • Shakespeare’s best plays and common idea in them

Literary topics to explore nature and surroundings

  • Various seasons in the USA
  • Our position in nature’s Food Chain
  • How is global warming impacting nature?
  • Species on the verge of extinction
  • Industrialization and nature
  • Rampant use of mobile phones and its impact on environment
  • Harmful effects of germs
  • Ozone layer depletion – causes and probable solutions
  • Creating green belts in your area – essential steps
  • Pros and cons of recycling plastic
  • Importance of promoting cruelty-free products
  • Impacts of spending time in nature
  • Therapeutic uses of pets
  • Ways to save water everyone must know
  • How to make houses self-sustained
  • Advantages of switching to solar and electrical energy
  • Disadvantages of deforestation
  • Cats and dogs as favorite pets
  • Types of clothes and shoes suitable for nature-lovers
  • Industrialization is the need of the hour
  • Role of growing plants in saving nature
  • Advantages of using energy-efficient devices at homes
  • Advantages of adopting green living
  • Best food habits to adopt for life
  • How everyone can become a nature’s savior?

Literary topics on Movies

  • Analyze the central idea of ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’
  • Psychological impacts of horror movies
  • Love theme of ‘Romeo & Juliet’
  • Depiction of Second World War in ‘Unbroken’
  • Development graph of story in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’
  • Psychological impacts of roles on actors
  • Compare Book and Movie ‘Harry Potter’
  • Compare Book and Movie ‘Of Mice and Men’
  • 5 Best Feel-Good Movies
  • 5 best war-based movies

Literary essays on issues of daily life

  • Impact of pandemic on quality of life?
  • Best practices to follow in community living
  • How making friends helps in daily life
  • Advantages of planning activities for the day
  • Best time management practices easier to adopt
  • Car parking issues – Possible solutions
  • How to keep yourself motivated?
  • Future of IoT and its utility in our lives
  • Is technology helping us or spoiling us?
  • Things to include in daily schedule to make it more productive

Literary essay topics on Youth

  • What makes a person a responsible citizen?
  • How to become popular among friends
  • Influence of social media on the young population
  • Rampant use of social media and its impacts
  • Binge-watching is as harmful as binge eating
  • Obsession of youth with movie stars
  • Ways to tackle teen depression
  • Smoking- a growing concern among teens
  • Bad family environment and its impact on young members of family
  • Violent behavior in teens – Who is responsible?
  • How to convert difficulties into possibilities
  • Impact of music and reading on our personality
  • Camping activities and their role in personality development
  • Why is it important to cultivate a hobby as a teenager?
  • Why abusive language attracts teens easily
  • Growing world of OTT and teens
  • Weekend sleepovers – caution to take
  • Why is it important to talk to parents?
  • How would be the world without books?
  • Top 5 world-famous personalities that youth admire the most

Literary techniques analyzed in such essays

Wondering what to include in literary essays? Well, it depends from topic to topic. When asked to assess literary techniques, give a thorough reading to paragraphs. You may underline the sentences to keep important points in mind. The following components of literary techniques are to be included in the essay:

  • Structure of sentences
  • Details provided
  • Point of view
  • Tone of the sentences or paragraphs

Wrapping up,

Penning down thoughts can help in myriad ways. Writing an essay may help develop an interest in areas like journalism . Literary essays provide a beautiful pretext to showcase what you have absorbed from books , school, people, and surrounding environments in total. So, pick the topic that interests you and have a wide target audience as well.

Did you find this post helpful – Yes or No? Share your view in the comment section.

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Sananda Bhattacharya, Chief Editor of TheHighSchooler, is dedicated to enhancing operations and growth. With degrees in Literature and Asian Studies from Presidency University, Kolkata, she leverages her educational and innovative background to shape TheHighSchooler into a pivotal resource hub. Providing valuable insights, practical activities, and guidance on school life, graduation, scholarships, and more, Sananda’s leadership enriches the journey of high school students.

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100 Best Literature Research Paper Topics For Students

literary research paper topics

Literary research paper topics are among the most interesting to write about. Books are the best teachers for most learners. And, students love reading interesting literature books. But, when asked to write research papers, most students have difficulties choosing their topics. That’s because many issues can be investigated and written about.

For instance, literary topics can be about characters’ personalities in certain works. They can also be about particular characteristics of specific literary genres. Learners can also choose literary analysis topics that focus on the life story of famous writers or poets. But, regardless of what a learner opts to write about, they should choose interesting topics.

What are Interesting Literary Research Paper Topics?

Several factors make a topic interesting to write about. A topic for a research paper or a graduate thesis should generally be definite, specific, and innovative. Also, it should be interesting to research and write about. Here’s how to select interesting literature topics:

Think about something. Explore the idea to select a topic for which you can find sufficient research data from credible sources. Narrow down your subject if you find it too broad.

English literature topics can be classified into different categories. Here some of these categories and topics can be considered in each category.

Great World Literature Research Topics

Perhaps, you’ve been asked to write a literature research paper with a global perspective. Here are some of the literary analysis research paper topics that you can consider.

  • Explain how the supernatural and spirituality help in furthering the development of the plot in the Latin American literature of the early 20th century.
  • What themes are common in the Japanese poems of the early 20th century? How do they differ from those of the early 19th century?
  • Compare the early Chinese literary works and European literary works of the middle ages. How different or alike are they?
  • How were European literary works in the early 20th century shaped by the revolutionary works of Engels and Marx? What examples can demonstrate this influence?
  • Explain how the Muslim philosophers’ work of the 15th century led to new ideas and inventions across the globe.
  • Compare and contrast different anti-British works that originated in India in the 19th century with pro-colonialist works that came from England at the same time.
  • How did the nightmarish utopian future ideas of Aldous Huxley influence modern-day science fiction writers across the world?
  • Explain how the Antigone play by Sophocles deals with the conflict between the central characters while relating to the state laws and individual conscience.
  • How are the sentiments of the authors reflected in Animal Farm by George Orwell and concerns about the October Revolution?
  • Explain some of the examples of literary fiction pieces that have shaped cultures in the world. Have historic, societal, and cultural factors played some roles in shaping these literature pieces?
  • Being a prolific writer in the early and mid-19th century, Charles Dickens’s works were published in serialized forms. How and why has this approach become less fashionable?
  • Compare and contrast the early Japanese literature works and the early Chinese literature works. How do they differ in terms of values and culture?
  • Explain how comedy differs in literature across cultures. What comedy appeared in the early theatrical performances and it’s still present in modern literature?
  • Analyze chivalry and honor critically in the Green Knight and Sir Gawain. What are the qualities of these works from a similar period?
  • Compare and contrast the Odyssey and Iliad by Homer the Ancient Greek. Explain how cultures across the world have adapted the themes presented in the poem.

Top Literary topics for Research Paper

Some topics for literary analysis stand out among students. These are topics that educators recommend for students across the study levels.

  • How is literature an aspect of modern culture?
  • Explain how feminism has influenced modern literature
  • How is psychology utilized in literature?
  • Explain the major social issues that have been exposed by literary works
  • Explain the philosophical tradition of Daoism in the Chinese literature
  • Explain the roles played by death and honor in Japanese literature in the 20th century
  • Explain how the European culture influences the Mid-West literature
  • How has European culture affected modern literature?
  • Analyze the personality of Don Quixote
  • Explain how literature differs between countries.
  • Discuss poetry in the innovative ear of the 21st century
  • Examine racism in the novels of the 1960s and 1970s
  • Explain the exile’s perception in literature
  • Literature and culture? Which one affects the other?
  • How has literature addressed homosexuality?

These can also be great literary debate topics. That’s because learners can have varying opinions about them.

British Literature Research Paper Topics

Students have many topics to choose from when it comes to British literature essay topics. Here are some of the best literature topics from the works of British authors.

  • Discuss Victorian England’s picture with the works of Charles Dickens in mind
  • Discuss the theme of Orphans with the Oliver Twist character in mind
  • Explain how British Literature has influenced different cultures
  • Explain how British literature has addressed gender issues
  • Explain how King Lear highlights the differences between anti-heroes and villains
  • Explain William Shakespeare’s personality- Highlight facts and myths
  • Choose two famous British novels and then compare the characters in them
  • Explain the viewpoint of different writers about the Utopian civilization idea
  • With Harry Potter books in mind, explain why some literature books are considered classics
  • Explain how love and romantic love are presented in Charlotte Bronte’s works
  • Explain how modern literary works have been affected by the Victorian period works
  • Discuss the adultery theme in Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Who are the main characters in Lake Poets’ works?
  • Explain how violent imagery was used in World War I poetry
  • Explain talent as a theme in Milton’s on His Blindness
  • Explain innocence loss in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
  • Explain the theme of individualism versus collectivism in Oliver Twist
  • Explain why the popularity of detective novels increased in the XIX century
  • What role did the supernatural play in Macbeth: a case study of three witches
  • Class demarcation in XVII century- The vengeance theme

American Literature Topics

Some teachers ask students to choose American literature research topics for certain reasons. If asked to write on such topics, here are some of the American literature research paper topics to consider.

  • Analyze key aspects of American ideology, particularly in the literature written before the 20th century.
  • Determine thematic concerns and literary styles of the major historical period of American literature between the colonial period and post-modernism.
  • Show the American identity uniqueness of texts
  • Propose connections between the American literature concerns and themes in the larger historical development and social issues that face the present world
  • Examine major concerns and themes that reappear across the American literature
  • Highlight the major themes in Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner
  • Explain the African American Experience with female authors like Alice Walker, Zora Neal Hurston, and Toni Morrison
  • Explain the predominant theme in The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • Explain how Jonathan Edwards epitomizes Puritan definitions in his sermons
  • Explain the use of historical personalities and events by Washington Irving as the background for his works
  • The Crucible demonstrates how a community can be torn apart by hysteria. Explain
  • Explain how Sylvia Plath demonstrates the social pressure faced by women in the 1960s in the Bell Jar.
  • Explain how John Knowles demonstrates the impact of war on everyone
  • Explain the strong belief in the education power by Maya Angelou as depicted in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Explain how Thornton Wilder conveys life as a gift in Our Town
  • Discuss the themes of anger and pity in the Grapes of Wrath
  • Explain how Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck portrays the Great Depression struggles
  • Discuss the portrayal of the unconquerable spirit in Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
  • Plays by Eugene O’Neil are tragically realistic. Explain
  • God is humanized in The Creation poem by James Weldon Johnson. Explain

Some of the ideas here are great poetry topics. Nevertheless, they require careful research and analysis to write about.

High School Literary Essay Topics

Some topics in literature are ideal for high school essays. Here are examples of literary analysis paper topics for high school students.

  • Compare and contrast the major characters in your preferred book
  • Choose your favorite character in a book and explain your reasons for liking it
  • Please explain why the quality of a literature book is not determined by its length
  • Highlight the similarities of your favorite books
  • Discuss the top 4 authors in horror books
  • Explain why reading some books is more difficult than reading others
  • Explain what it takes to write a high-quality poem
  • Who is your favorite poet and why?
  • Explain what makes your favorite book interesting
  • Who is your favorite character in literary works and why?
  • What makes some literature books difficult to read?
  • Who are your favorite top 5 authors and why?
  • Should the age of readers be restricted to some books?
  • What is your favorite literary genre?
  • Explain why the author determines the quality of a book more than the story
  • Discuss the literary works of your favorite authors
  • Why is it important to captivate readers with the introductory chapter of a book?
  • Which book genre makes great movies?
  • Why is the work of Harry Potter so popular?
  • Explain why your favorite horror book is scary

Unique Research Topics in English Literature

Some literature research topics are unique and can be written about by learners at different study levels. Here are examples of such topics.

  • Analyze the use of literary devices in novels
  • Discuss the author’s autobiography
  • Analyze literary genres and the role played by an artist in them
  • Compare the works of a similar genre
  • Highlight the gender roles of characters in literary works
  • Social stratification and Harry Potter- Discuss
  • With Charles Dickens’ work in mind, explain the peculiarity of the bildungsroman genre.
  • Explain how The Lord of the Rings uses artificial language
  • Explain how the Sherlock Holmes image influences the world of detective fiction
  • Explain the war theme in the world literature

These are also great literary journalism topics. Nevertheless, they require extensive research to write about.

In a nutshell, students have many literary argument topics to consider. The most important thing is to choose an interesting topic that you can find sufficient data to write about. Also, don’t hesitate to check our history topics .

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Essays About Literature: Top 6 Examples and 8 Prompts

Society and culture are formed around literature. If you are writing essays about literature, you can use the essay examples and prompts featured in our guide.

It has been said that language holds the key to all human activities, and literature is the expression of language. It teaches new words and phrases, allows us to better our communication skills, and helps us learn more about ourselves.

Whether you are reading poems or novels, we often see parts of ourselves in the characters and themes presented by the authors. Literature gives us ideas and helps us determine what to say, while language gives form and structure to our ideas, helping us convey them.

6 Helpful Essay Examples

1. importance of literature by william anderson, 2. philippine literature by jean hodges, 3. african literature by morris marshall.

  • 4.  Nine Questions From Children’s Literature That Every Person Should Answer by Shaunta Grimes

5. Exploring tyranny and power in Macbeth by Tom Davey

6. guide to the classics: homer’s odyssey by jo adetunji, 1. the importance of literature, 2. comparing and contrasting two works of literature  , 3. the use of literary devices, 4. popular adaptations of literature, 5. gender roles in literature, 6. analysis of your chosen literary work, 7. fiction vs. non-fiction, 8. literature as an art form.

“Life before literature was practical and predictable, but in the present-day, literature has expanded into countless libraries and into the minds of many as the gateway for comprehension and curiosity of the human mind and the world around them. Literature is of great importance and is studied upon as it provides the ability to connect human relationships and define what is right and what is wrong.”

Anderson writes about why an understanding of literature is crucial. It allows us to see different perspectives of people from different periods, countries, and cultures: we are given the ability to see the world from an entirely new lens. As a result, we obtain a better judgment of situations. In a world where anything can happen, literature gives us the key to enacting change for ourselves and others. You might also be interested in these essays about Beowulf .

“So successful were the efforts of colonists to blot out the memory of the country’s largely oral past that present-day Filipino writers, artists and journalists are trying to correct this inequity by recognizing the country’s wealth of ethnic traditions and disseminating them in schools through mass media. The rise of nationalistic pride in the 1960s and 1970s also helped bring about this change of attitude among a new breed of Filipinos concerned about the “Filipino identity.””

In her essay, Hodges writes about the history of Philippine literature. Unfortunately, much of Philippine literary history has been obscured by Spanish colonization, as the written works of the Spanish largely replaced the oral tradition of the native Filipinos. A heightened sense of nationalism has recently led to a resurgence in Filipino tradition, including ancient Philippine literature. 

“In fact, the common denominator of the cultures of the African continent is undoubtedly the oral tradition. Writing on black Africa started in the middle Ages with the introduction of the Arabic language and later, in the nineteenth century with introduction of the Latin alphabet. Since 1934, with the birth of the “Negritude.” African authors began to write in French or in English.”

Marshall explores the history of African literature, particularly the languages it was written over time. It was initially written in Arabic and native languages; however, with the “Negritude” movement, writers began composing their works in French or English. This movement allowed African writers to spread their work and gain notoriety. Marshall gives examples of African literature, shedding light on their lyrical content. 

4.   Nine Questions From Children’s Literature That Every Person Should Answer by Shaunta Grimes

“ They asked me questions — questions about who I am, what I value, and where I’m headed — and pushed me to think about the answers. At some point in our lives, we decide we know everything we need to know. We stop asking questions. To remember what’s important, it sometimes helps to return to that place of childlike curiosity and wonder.”

Grimes’ essay is a testament to how much we can learn from literature, even as simple as children’s stories. She explains how different works of children’s literature, such as Charlotte’s Web and Little Women, can inspire us, help us maximize our imagination, and remind us of the fleeting nature of life. Most importantly, however, they remind us that the future is uncertain, and maximizing it is up to us. 

“This is a world where the moral bar has been lowered; a world which ‘sinks beneath the yoke’. In the Macbeths, we see just how terribly the human soul can be corrupted. However, this struggle is played out within other characters too. Perhaps we’re left wondering: in such a dog-eat-dog world, how would we fare?”

The corruption that power can lead to is genuine; Davey explains how this theme is present in Shakespeare’s Macbeth . Even after being honored, Macbeth still wishes to be king and commits heinous acts of violence to achieve his goals. Violence is prevalent throughout the play, but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exemplify the vicious cycle of bloodshed through their ambition and power. 

“Polyphemus is blinded but survives the attack and curses the voyage home of the Ithacans. All of Odysseus’s men are eventually killed, and he alone survives his return home, mostly because of his versatility and cleverness. There is a strong element of the trickster figure about Homer’s Odysseus.”

Adetunji also exposes a notable work of literature, in this case, Homer’s Odyssey . She goes over the epic poem and its historical context and discusses Odysseus’ most important traits: cleverness and courage. As the story progresses, he displays great courage and bravery in his exploits, using his cunning and wit to outsmart his foes. Finally, Adetunji references modern interpretations of the Odyssey in film, literature, and other media.

8 Prompts for Essays About Literature

In your essay, write about the importance of literature; explain why we need to study literature and how it can help us in the future. Then, give examples of literary works that teach important moral lessons as evidence. 

For your essay, choose two works of literature with similar themes. Then, discuss their similarities and differences in plot, theme, and characters. For example, these themes could include death, grief, love and hate, or relationships. You can also discuss which of the two pieces of literature presents your chosen theme better. 

Essays about literature: The use of literary devices

Writers use literary devices to enhance their literary works and emphasize important points. Literary devices include personification, similes, metaphors, and more. You can write about the effectiveness of literary devices and the reasoning behind their usage. Research and give examples of instances where authors use literary devices effectively to enhance their message.  

Literature has been adapted into cinema, television, and other media time and again, with series such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter turning into blockbuster franchises. Explore how these adaptations diverge from their source material yet retain the key themes the writer composed the work with in mind. If this seems confusing, research first and read some essay examples. 

Literature reflects the ideas of the period it is from; for example, ancient Greek literature, such as Antigone, depicts the ideal woman as largely obedient and subservient, to an extent. For your essay, you can write about how gender roles have evolved in literature throughout the years, specifically about women. Be sure to give examples to support your points. 

Choose a work of literature that interests you and analyze it in your essay. You can use your favorite novel, book, or screenplay, explain the key themes and characters and summarize the plot. Analyze the key messages in your chosen piece of literature, and discuss how the themes are enhanced through the author’s writing techniques.

Essays about literature: Fiction Vs. Non-Fiction

Literature can be divided into two categories: fiction, from the writer’s imagination, and non-fiction, written about actual events. Explore their similarities and differences, and give your opinion on which is better. For a strong argument, provide ample supporting details and cite credible sources.  

Literature is an art form that uses language, so do you believe it is more effective in conveying its message? Write about how literature compares to other art forms such as painting and sculpture; state your argument and defend it adequately. 

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

For help picking your next essay topic, check out the best essay topics about social media .

literature essays topics

Martin is an avid writer specializing in editing and proofreading. He also enjoys literary analysis and writing about food and travel.

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The 10 Best Essay Collections of the Decade

Ever tried. ever failed. no matter..

Friends, it’s true: the end of the decade approaches. It’s been a difficult, anxiety-provoking, morally compromised decade, but at least it’s been populated by some damn fine literature. We’ll take our silver linings where we can.

So, as is our hallowed duty as a literary and culture website—though with full awareness of the potentially fruitless and endlessly contestable nature of the task—in the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the best and most important (these being not always the same) books of the decade that was. We will do this, of course, by means of a variety of lists. We began with the best debut novels , the best short story collections , the best poetry collections , and the best memoirs of the decade , and we have now reached the fifth list in our series: the best essay collections published in English between 2010 and 2019.

The following books were chosen after much debate (and several rounds of voting) by the Literary Hub staff. Tears were spilled, feelings were hurt, books were re-read. And as you’ll shortly see, we had a hard time choosing just ten—so we’ve also included a list of dissenting opinions, and an even longer list of also-rans. As ever, free to add any of your own favorites that we’ve missed in the comments below.

The Top Ten

Oliver sacks, the mind’s eye (2010).

Toward the end of his life, maybe suspecting or sensing that it was coming to a close, Dr. Oliver Sacks tended to focus his efforts on sweeping intellectual projects like On the Move (a memoir), The River of Consciousness (a hybrid intellectual history), and Hallucinations (a book-length meditation on, what else, hallucinations). But in 2010, he gave us one more classic in the style that first made him famous, a form he revolutionized and brought into the contemporary literary canon: the medical case study as essay. In The Mind’s Eye , Sacks focuses on vision, expanding the notion to embrace not only how we see the world, but also how we map that world onto our brains when our eyes are closed and we’re communing with the deeper recesses of consciousness. Relaying histories of patients and public figures, as well as his own history of ocular cancer (the condition that would eventually spread and contribute to his death), Sacks uses vision as a lens through which to see all of what makes us human, what binds us together, and what keeps us painfully apart. The essays that make up this collection are quintessential Sacks: sensitive, searching, with an expertise that conveys scientific information and experimentation in terms we can not only comprehend, but which also expand how we see life carrying on around us. The case studies of “Stereo Sue,” of the concert pianist Lillian Kalir, and of Howard, the mystery novelist who can no longer read, are highlights of the collection, but each essay is a kind of gem, mined and polished by one of the great storytellers of our era.  –Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads Managing Editor

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead (2011)

The American essay was having a moment at the beginning of the decade, and Pulphead was smack in the middle. Without any hard data, I can tell you that this collection of John Jeremiah Sullivan’s magazine features—published primarily in GQ , but also in The Paris Review , and Harper’s —was the only full book of essays most of my literary friends had read since Slouching Towards Bethlehem , and probably one of the only full books of essays they had even heard of.

Well, we all picked a good one. Every essay in Pulphead is brilliant and entertaining, and illuminates some small corner of the American experience—even if it’s just one house, with Sullivan and an aging writer inside (“Mr. Lytle” is in fact a standout in a collection with no filler; fittingly, it won a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize). But what are they about? Oh, Axl Rose, Christian Rock festivals, living around the filming of One Tree Hill , the Tea Party movement, Michael Jackson, Bunny Wailer, the influence of animals, and by god, the Miz (of Real World/Road Rules Challenge fame).

But as Dan Kois has pointed out , what connects these essays, apart from their general tone and excellence, is “their author’s essential curiosity about the world, his eye for the perfect detail, and his great good humor in revealing both his subjects’ and his own foibles.” They are also extremely well written, drawing much from fictional techniques and sentence craft, their literary pleasures so acute and remarkable that James Wood began his review of the collection in The New Yorker with a quiz: “Are the following sentences the beginnings of essays or of short stories?” (It was not a hard quiz, considering the context.)

It’s hard not to feel, reading this collection, like someone reached into your brain, took out the half-baked stuff you talk about with your friends, researched it, lived it, and represented it to you smarter and better and more thoroughly than you ever could. So read it in awe if you must, but read it.  –Emily Temple, Senior Editor

Aleksandar Hemon, The Book of My Lives (2013)

Such is the sentence-level virtuosity of Aleksandar Hemon—the Bosnian-American writer, essayist, and critic—that throughout his career he has frequently been compared to the granddaddy of borrowed language prose stylists: Vladimir Nabokov. While it is, of course, objectively remarkable that anyone could write so beautifully in a language they learned in their twenties, what I admire most about Hemon’s work is the way in which he infuses every essay and story and novel with both a deep humanity and a controlled (but never subdued) fury. He can also be damn funny. Hemon grew up in Sarajevo and left in 1992 to study in Chicago, where he almost immediately found himself stranded, forced to watch from afar as his beloved home city was subjected to a relentless four-year bombardment, the longest siege of a capital in the history of modern warfare. This extraordinary memoir-in-essays is many things: it’s a love letter to both the family that raised him and the family he built in exile; it’s a rich, joyous, and complex portrait of a place the 90s made synonymous with war and devastation; and it’s an elegy for the wrenching loss of precious things. There’s an essay about coming of age in Sarajevo and another about why he can’t bring himself to leave Chicago. There are stories about relationships forged and maintained on the soccer pitch or over the chessboard, and stories about neighbors and mentors turned monstrous by ethnic prejudice. As a chorus they sing with insight, wry humor, and unimaginable sorrow. I am not exaggerating when I say that the collection’s devastating final piece, “The Aquarium”—which details his infant daughter’s brain tumor and the agonizing months which led up to her death—remains the most painful essay I have ever read.  –Dan Sheehan, Book Marks Editor

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass (2013)

Of every essay in my relentlessly earmarked copy of Braiding Sweetgrass , Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s gorgeously rendered argument for why and how we should keep going, there’s one that especially hits home: her account of professor-turned-forester Franz Dolp. When Dolp, several decades ago, revisited the farm that he had once shared with his ex-wife, he found a scene of destruction: The farm’s new owners had razed the land where he had tried to build a life. “I sat among the stumps and the swirling red dust and I cried,” he wrote in his journal.

So many in my generation (and younger) feel this kind of helplessness–and considerable rage–at finding ourselves newly adult in a world where those in power seem determined to abandon or destroy everything that human bodies have always needed to survive: air, water, land. Asking any single book to speak to this helplessness feels unfair, somehow; yet, Braiding Sweetgrass does, by weaving descriptions of indigenous tradition with the environmental sciences in order to show what survival has looked like over the course of many millennia. Kimmerer’s essays describe her personal experience as a Potawotami woman, plant ecologist, and teacher alongside stories of the many ways that humans have lived in relationship to other species. Whether describing Dolp’s work–he left the stumps for a life of forest restoration on the Oregon coast–or the work of others in maple sugar harvesting, creating black ash baskets, or planting a Three Sisters garden of corn, beans, and squash, she brings hope. “In ripe ears and swelling fruit, they counsel us that all gifts are multiplied in relationship,” she writes of the Three Sisters, which all sustain one another as they grow. “This is how the world keeps going.”  –Corinne Segal, Senior Editor

Hilton Als, White Girls (2013)

In a world where we are so often reduced to one essential self, Hilton Als’ breathtaking book of critical essays, White Girls , which meditates on the ways he and other subjects read, project and absorb parts of white femininity, is a radically liberating book. It’s one of the only works of critical thinking that doesn’t ask the reader, its author or anyone he writes about to stoop before the doorframe of complete legibility before entering. Something he also permitted the subjects and readers of his first book, the glorious book-length essay, The Women , a series of riffs and psychological portraits of Dorothy Dean, Owen Dodson, and the author’s own mother, among others. One of the shifts of that book, uncommon at the time, was how it acknowledges the way we inhabit bodies made up of variously gendered influences. To read White Girls now is to experience the utter freedom of this gift and to marvel at Als’ tremendous versatility and intelligence.

He is easily the most diversely talented American critic alive. He can write into genres like pop music and film where being part of an audience is a fantasy happening in the dark. He’s also wired enough to know how the art world builds reputations on the nod of rich white patrons, a significant collision in a time when Jean-Michel Basquiat is America’s most expensive modern artist. Als’ swerving and always moving grip on performance means he’s especially good on describing the effect of art which is volatile and unstable and built on the mingling of made-up concepts and the hard fact of their effect on behavior, such as race. Writing on Flannery O’Connor for instance he alone puts a finger on her “uneasy and unavoidable union between black and white, the sacred and the profane, the shit and the stars.” From Eminem to Richard Pryor, André Leon Talley to Michael Jackson, Als enters the life and work of numerous artists here who turn the fascinations of race and with whiteness into fury and song and describes the complexity of their beauty like his life depended upon it. There are also brief memoirs here that will stop your heart. This is an essential work to understanding American culture.  –John Freeman, Executive Editor

Eula Biss, On Immunity (2014)

We move through the world as if we can protect ourselves from its myriad dangers, exercising what little agency we have in an effort to keep at bay those fears that gather at the edges of any given life: of loss, illness, disaster, death. It is these fears—amplified by the birth of her first child—that Eula Biss confronts in her essential 2014 essay collection, On Immunity . As any great essayist does, Biss moves outward in concentric circles from her own very private view of the world to reveal wider truths, discovering as she does a culture consumed by anxiety at the pervasive toxicity of contemporary life. As Biss interrogates this culture—of privilege, of whiteness—she interrogates herself, questioning the flimsy ways in which we arm ourselves with science or superstition against the impurities of daily existence.

Five years on from its publication, it is dismaying that On Immunity feels as urgent (and necessary) a defense of basic science as ever. Vaccination, we learn, is derived from vacca —for cow—after the 17th-century discovery that a small application of cowpox was often enough to inoculate against the scourge of smallpox, an etymological digression that belies modern conspiratorial fears of Big Pharma and its vaccination agenda. But Biss never scolds or belittles the fears of others, and in her generosity and openness pulls off a neat (and important) trick: insofar as we are of the very world we fear, she seems to be suggesting, we ourselves are impure, have always been so, permeable, vulnerable, yet so much stronger than we think.  –Jonny Diamond, Editor-in-Chief 

Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions (2016)

When Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “Men Explain Things to Me,” was published in 2008, it quickly became a cultural phenomenon unlike almost any other in recent memory, assigning language to a behavior that almost every woman has witnessed—mansplaining—and, in the course of identifying that behavior, spurring a movement, online and offline, to share the ways in which patriarchal arrogance has intersected all our lives. (It would also come to be the titular essay in her collection published in 2014.) The Mother of All Questions follows up on that work and takes it further in order to examine the nature of self-expression—who is afforded it and denied it, what institutions have been put in place to limit it, and what happens when it is employed by women. Solnit has a singular gift for describing and decoding the misogynistic dynamics that govern the world so universally that they can seem invisible and the gendered violence that is so common as to seem unremarkable; this naming is powerful, and it opens space for sharing the stories that shape our lives.

The Mother of All Questions, comprised of essays written between 2014 and 2016, in many ways armed us with some of the tools necessary to survive the gaslighting of the Trump years, in which many of us—and especially women—have continued to hear from those in power that the things we see and hear do not exist and never existed. Solnit also acknowledges that labels like “woman,” and other gendered labels, are identities that are fluid in reality; in reviewing the book for The New Yorker , Moira Donegan suggested that, “One useful working definition of a woman might be ‘someone who experiences misogyny.'” Whichever words we use, Solnit writes in the introduction to the book that “when words break through unspeakability, what was tolerated by a society sometimes becomes intolerable.” This storytelling work has always been vital; it continues to be vital, and in this book, it is brilliantly done.  –Corinne Segal, Senior Editor

Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends (2017)

The newly minted MacArthur fellow Valeria Luiselli’s four-part (but really six-part) essay  Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions  was inspired by her time spent volunteering at the federal immigration court in New York City, working as an interpreter for undocumented, unaccompanied migrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Written concurrently with her novel  Lost Children Archive  (a fictional exploration of the same topic), Luiselli’s essay offers a fascinating conceit, the fashioning of an argument from the questions on the government intake form given to these children to process their arrivals. (Aside from the fact that this essay is a heartbreaking masterpiece, this is such a  good  conceit—transforming a cold, reproducible administrative document into highly personal literature.) Luiselli interweaves a grounded discussion of the questionnaire with a narrative of the road trip Luiselli takes with her husband and family, across America, while they (both Mexican citizens) wait for their own Green Card applications to be processed. It is on this trip when Luiselli reflects on the thousands of migrant children mysteriously traveling across the border by themselves. But the real point of the essay is to actually delve into the real stories of some of these children, which are agonizing, as well as to gravely, clearly expose what literally happens, procedural, when they do arrive—from forms to courts, as they’re swallowed by a bureaucratic vortex. Amid all of this, Luiselli also takes on more, exploring the larger contextual relationship between the United States of America and Mexico (as well as other countries in Central America, more broadly) as it has evolved to our current, adverse moment.  Tell Me How It Ends  is so small, but it is so passionate and vigorous: it desperately accomplishes in its less-than-100-pages-of-prose what centuries and miles and endless records of federal bureaucracy have never been able, and have never cared, to do: reverse the dehumanization of Latin American immigrants that occurs once they set foot in this country.  –Olivia Rutigliano, CrimeReads Editorial Fellow

Zadie Smith, Feel Free (2018)

In the essay “Meet Justin Bieber!” in Feel Free , Zadie Smith writes that her interest in Justin Bieber is not an interest in the interiority of the singer himself, but in “the idea of the love object”. This essay—in which Smith imagines a meeting between Bieber and the late philosopher Martin Buber (“Bieber and Buber are alternative spellings of the same German surname,” she explains in one of many winning footnotes. “Who am I to ignore these hints from the universe?”). Smith allows that this premise is a bit premise -y: “I know, I know.” Still, the resulting essay is a very funny, very smart, and un-tricky exploration of individuality and true “meeting,” with a dash of late capitalism thrown in for good measure. The melding of high and low culture is the bread and butter of pretty much every prestige publication on the internet these days (and certainly of the Twitter feeds of all “public intellectuals”), but the essays in Smith’s collection don’t feel familiar—perhaps because hers is, as we’ve long known, an uncommon skill. Though I believe Smith could probably write compellingly about anything, she chooses her subjects wisely. She writes with as much electricity about Brexit as the aforementioned Beliebers—and each essay is utterly engrossing. “She contains multitudes, but her point is we all do,” writes Hermione Hoby in her review of the collection in The New Republic . “At the same time, we are, in our endless difference, nobody but ourselves.”  –Jessie Gaynor, Social Media Editor

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays (2019)

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an academic who has transcended the ivory tower to become the sort of public intellectual who can easily appear on radio or television talk shows to discuss race, gender, and capitalism. Her collection of essays reflects this duality, blending scholarly work with memoir to create a collection on the black female experience in postmodern America that’s “intersectional analysis with a side of pop culture.” The essays range from an analysis of sexual violence, to populist politics, to social media, but in centering her own experiences throughout, the collection becomes something unlike other pieces of criticism of contemporary culture. In explaining the title, she reflects on what an editor had said about her work: “I was too readable to be academic, too deep to be popular, too country black to be literary, and too naïve to show the rigor of my thinking in the complexity of my prose. I had wanted to create something meaningful that sounded not only like me, but like all of me. It was too thick.” One of the most powerful essays in the book is “Dying to be Competent” which begins with her unpacking the idiocy of LinkedIn (and the myth of meritocracy) and ends with a description of her miscarriage, the mishandling of black woman’s pain, and a condemnation of healthcare bureaucracy. A finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Thick confirms McMillan Cottom as one of our most fearless public intellectuals and one of the most vital.  –Emily Firetog, Deputy Editor

Dissenting Opinions

The following books were just barely nudged out of the top ten, but we (or at least one of us) couldn’t let them pass without comment.

Elif Batuman, The Possessed (2010)

In The Possessed Elif Batuman indulges her love of Russian literature and the result is hilarious and remarkable. Each essay of the collection chronicles some adventure or other that she had while in graduate school for Comparative Literature and each is more unpredictable than the next. There’s the time a “well-known 20th-centuryist” gave a graduate student the finger; and the time when Batuman ended up living in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for a summer; and the time that she convinced herself Tolstoy was murdered and spent the length of the Tolstoy Conference in Yasnaya Polyana considering clues and motives. Rich in historic detail about Russian authors and literature and thoughtfully constructed, each essay is an amalgam of critical analysis, cultural criticism, and serious contemplation of big ideas like that of identity, intellectual legacy, and authorship. With wit and a serpentine-like shape to her narratives, Batuman adopts a form reminiscent of a Socratic discourse, setting up questions at the beginning of her essays and then following digressions that more or less entreat the reader to synthesize the answer for herself. The digressions are always amusing and arguably the backbone of the collection, relaying absurd anecdotes with foreign scholars or awkward, surreal encounters with Eastern European strangers. Central also to the collection are Batuman’s intellectual asides where she entertains a theory—like the “problem of the person”: the inability to ever wholly capture one’s character—that ultimately layer the book’s themes. “You are certainly my most entertaining student,” a professor said to Batuman. But she is also curious and enthusiastic and reflective and so knowledgeable that she might even convince you (she has me!) that you too love Russian literature as much as she does. –Eleni Theodoropoulos, Editorial Fellow

Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist (2014)

Roxane Gay’s now-classic essay collection is a book that will make you laugh, think, cry, and then wonder, how can cultural criticism be this fun? My favorite essays in the book include Gay’s musings on competitive Scrabble, her stranded-in-academia dispatches, and her joyous film and television criticism, but given the breadth of topics Roxane Gay can discuss in an entertaining manner, there’s something for everyone in this one. This book is accessible because feminism itself should be accessible – Roxane Gay is as likely to draw inspiration from YA novels, or middle-brow shows about friendship, as she is to introduce concepts from the academic world, and if there’s anyone I trust to bridge the gap between high culture, low culture, and pop culture, it’s the Goddess of Twitter. I used to host a book club dedicated to radical reads, and this was one of the first picks for the club; a week after the book club met, I spied a few of the attendees meeting in the café of the bookstore, and found out that they had bonded so much over discussing  Bad Feminist  that they couldn’t wait for the next meeting of the book club to keep discussing politics and intersectionality, and that, in a nutshell, is the power of Roxane. –Molly Odintz, CrimeReads Associate Editor

Rivka Galchen, Little Labors (2016)

Generally, I find stories about the trials and tribulations of child-having to be of limited appeal—useful, maybe, insofar as they offer validation that other people have also endured the bizarre realities of living with a tiny human, but otherwise liable to drift into the musings of parents thrilled at the simple fact of their own fecundity, as if they were the first ones to figure the process out (or not). But Little Labors is not simply an essay collection about motherhood, perhaps because Galchen initially “didn’t want to write about” her new baby—mostly, she writes, “because I had never been interested in babies, or mothers; in fact, those subjects had seemed perfectly not interesting to me.” Like many new mothers, though, Galchen soon discovered her baby—which she refers to sometimes as “the puma”—to be a preoccupying thought, demanding to be written about. Galchen’s interest isn’t just in her own progeny, but in babies in literature (“Literature has more dogs than babies, and also more abortions”), The Pillow Book , the eleventh-century collection of musings by Sei Shōnagon, and writers who are mothers. There are sections that made me laugh out loud, like when Galchen continually finds herself in an elevator with a neighbor who never fails to remark on the puma’s size. There are also deeper, darker musings, like the realization that the baby means “that it’s not permissible to die. There are days when this does not feel good.” It is a slim collection that I happened to read at the perfect time, and it remains one of my favorites of the decade. –Emily Firetog, Deputy Editor

Charlie Fox, This Young Monster (2017)

On social media as in his writing, British art critic Charlie Fox rejects lucidity for allusion and doesn’t quite answer the Twitter textbox’s persistent question: “What’s happening?” These days, it’s hard to tell.  This Young Monster  (2017), Fox’s first book,was published a few months after Donald Trump’s election, and at one point Fox takes a swipe at a man he judges “direct from a nightmare and just a repulsive fucking goon.” Fox doesn’t linger on politics, though, since most of the monsters he looks at “embody otherness and make it into art, ripping any conventional idea of beauty to shreds and replacing it with something weird and troubling of their own invention.”

If clichés are loathed because they conform to what philosopher Georges Bataille called “the common measure,” then monsters are rebellious non-sequiturs, comedic or horrific derailments from a classical ideal. Perverts in the most literal sense, monsters have gone astray from some “proper” course. The book’s nine chapters, which are about a specific monster or type of monster, are full of callbacks to familiar and lesser-known media. Fox cites visual art, film, songs, and books with the screwy buoyancy of a savant. Take one of his essays, “Spook House,” framed as a stage play with two principal characters, Klaus (“an intoxicated young skinhead vampire”) and Hermione (“a teen sorceress with green skin and jet-black hair” who looks more like The Wicked Witch than her namesake). The chorus is a troupe of trick-or-treaters. Using the filmmaker Cameron Jamie as a starting point, the rest is free association on gothic decadence and Detroit and L.A. as cities of the dead. All the while, Klaus quotes from  Artforum ,  Dazed & Confused , and  Time Out. It’s a technical feat that makes fictionalized dialogue a conveyor belt for cultural criticism.

In Fox’s imagination, David Bowie and the Hydra coexist alongside Peter Pan, Dennis Hopper, and the maenads. Fox’s book reaches for the monster’s mask, not really to peel it off but to feel and smell the rubber schnoz, to know how it’s made before making sure it’s still snugly set. With a stylistic blend of arthouse suavity and B-movie chic,  This Young Monster considers how monsters in culture are made. Aren’t the scariest things made in post-production? Isn’t the creature just duplicity, like a looping choir or a dubbed scream? –Aaron Robertson, Assistant Editor

Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses (2017)

Elena Passarello’s collection of essays Animals Strike Curious Poses picks out infamous animals and grants them the voice, narrative, and history they deserve. Not only is a collection like this relevant during the sixth extinction but it is an ambitious historical and anthropological undertaking, which Passarello has tackled with thorough research and a playful tone that rather than compromise her subject, complicates and humanizes it. Passarello’s intention is to investigate the role of animals across the span of human civilization and in doing so, to construct a timeline of humanity as told through people’s interactions with said animals. “Of all the images that make our world, animal images are particularly buried inside us,” Passarello writes in her first essay, to introduce us to the object of the book and also to the oldest of her chosen characters: Yuka, a 39,000-year-old mummified woolly mammoth discovered in the Siberian permafrost in 2010. It was an occasion so remarkable and so unfathomable given the span of human civilization that Passarello says of Yuka: “Since language is epically younger than both thought and experience, ‘woolly mammoth’ means, to a human brain, something more like time.” The essay ends with a character placing a hand on a cave drawing of a woolly mammoth, accompanied by a phrase which encapsulates the author’s vision for the book: “And he becomes the mammoth so he can envision the mammoth.” In Passarello’s hands the imagined boundaries between the animal, natural, and human world disintegrate and what emerges is a cohesive if baffling integrated history of life. With the accuracy and tenacity of a journalist and the spirit of a storyteller, Elena Passarello has assembled a modern bestiary worthy of contemplation and awe. –Eleni Theodoropoulos, Editorial Fellow

Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias (2019)

Esmé Weijun Wang’s collection of essays is a kaleidoscopic look at mental health and the lives affected by the schizophrenias. Each essay takes on a different aspect of the topic, but you’ll want to read them together for a holistic perspective. Esmé Weijun Wang generously begins The Collected Schizophrenias by acknowledging the stereotype, “Schizophrenia terrifies. It is the archetypal disorder of lunacy.” From there, she walks us through the technical language, breaks down the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ( DSM-5 )’s clinical definition. And then she gets very personal, telling us about how she came to her own diagnosis and the way it’s touched her daily life (her relationships, her ideas about motherhood). Esmé Weijun Wang is uniquely situated to write about this topic. As a former lab researcher at Stanford, she turns a precise, analytical eye to her experience while simultaneously unfolding everything with great patience for her reader. Throughout, she brilliantly dissects the language around mental health. (On saying “a person living with bipolar disorder” instead of using “bipolar” as the sole subject: “…we are not our diseases. We are instead individuals with disorders and malfunctions. Our conditions lie over us like smallpox blankets; we are one thing and the illness is another.”) She pinpoints the ways she arms herself against anticipated reactions to the schizophrenias: high fashion, having attended an Ivy League institution. In a particularly piercing essay, she traces mental illness back through her family tree. She also places her story within more mainstream cultural contexts, calling on groundbreaking exposés about the dangerous of institutionalization and depictions of mental illness in television and film (like the infamous Slender Man case, in which two young girls stab their best friend because an invented Internet figure told them to). At once intimate and far-reaching, The Collected Schizophrenias is an informative and important (and let’s not forget artful) work. I’ve never read a collection quite so beautifully-written and laid-bare as this. –Katie Yee, Book Marks Assistant Editor

Ross Gay, The Book of Delights (2019)

When Ross Gay began writing what would become The Book of Delights, he envisioned it as a project of daily essays, each focused on a moment or point of delight in his day. This plan quickly disintegrated; on day four, he skipped his self-imposed assignment and decided to “in honor and love, delight in blowing it off.” (Clearly, “blowing it off” is a relative term here, as he still produced the book.) Ross Gay is a generous teacher of how to live, and this moment of reveling in self-compassion is one lesson among many in The Book of Delights , which wanders from moments of connection with strangers to a shade of “red I don’t think I actually have words for,” a text from a friend reading “I love you breadfruit,” and “the sun like a guiding hand on my back, saying everything is possible. Everything .”

Gay does not linger on any one subject for long, creating the sense that delight is a product not of extenuating circumstances, but of our attention; his attunement to the possibilities of a single day, and awareness of all the small moments that produce delight, are a model for life amid the warring factions of the attention economy. These small moments range from the physical–hugging a stranger, transplanting fig cuttings–to the spiritual and philosophical, giving the impression of sitting beside Gay in his garden as he thinks out loud in real time. It’s a privilege to listen. –Corinne Segal, Senior Editor

Honorable Mentions

A selection of other books that we seriously considered for both lists—just to be extra about it (and because decisions are hard).

Terry Castle, The Professor and Other Writings (2010) · Joyce Carol Oates, In Rough Country (2010) · Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (2011) · Christopher Hitchens, Arguably (2011) ·  Roberto Bolaño, tr. Natasha Wimmer, Between Parentheses (2011) · Dubravka Ugresic, tr. David Williams, Karaoke Culture (2011) · Tom Bissell, Magic Hours (2012)  · Kevin Young, The Grey Album (2012) · William H. Gass, Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts (2012) · Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey (2012) · Herta Müller, tr. Geoffrey Mulligan, Cristina and Her Double (2013) · Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams (2014)  · Meghan Daum, The Unspeakable (2014)  · Daphne Merkin, The Fame Lunches (2014)  · Charles D’Ambrosio, Loitering (2015) · Wendy Walters, Multiply/Divide (2015) · Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop (2015) ·  Renee Gladman, Calamities (2016)  · Jesmyn Ward, ed. The Fire This Time (2016)  · Lindy West, Shrill (2016)  · Mary Oliver, Upstream (2016)  · Emily Witt, Future Sex (2016)  · Olivia Laing, The Lonely City (2016)  · Mark Greif, Against Everything (2016)  · Durga Chew-Bose, Too Much and Not the Mood (2017)  · Sarah Gerard, Sunshine State (2017)  · Jim Harrison, A Really Big Lunch (2017)  · J.M. Coetzee, Late Essays: 2006-2017 (2017) · Melissa Febos, Abandon Me (2017)  · Louise Glück, American Originality (2017)  · Joan Didion, South and West (2017)  · Tom McCarthy, Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish (2017)  · Hanif Abdurraqib, They Can’t Kill Us Until they Kill Us (2017)  · Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power (2017)  ·  Samantha Irby, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (2017)  · Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018)  · Alice Bolin, Dead Girls (2018)  · Marilynne Robinson, What Are We Doing Here? (2018)  · Lorrie Moore, See What Can Be Done (2018)  · Maggie O’Farrell, I Am I Am I Am (2018)  · Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race (2018)  · Rachel Cusk, Coventry (2019)  · Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror (2019)  · Emily Bernard, Black is the Body (2019)  · Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard (2019)  · Margaret Renkl, Late Migrations (2019)  ·  Rachel Munroe, Savage Appetites (2019)  · Robert A. Caro,  Working  (2019) · Arundhati Roy, My Seditious Heart (2019).

Emily Temple

Emily Temple

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Decoding the Enigma: a Journey through the DSM-5 Labyrinth of Schizophrenia

This essay about decoding the DSM-5 criteria for schizophrenia navigates the complexities of diagnosing and understanding this enigmatic disorder. It explores the challenges clinicians face in capturing its diverse manifestations and emphasizes the importance of a nuanced approach. By examining the dimensional assessments, differential diagnosis, and prognostic factors outlined in DSM-5, the essay underscores the need for a comprehensive understanding of schizophrenia to provide accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

How it works

Schizophrenia, a labyrinthine puzzle of the mind, has captured the intrigue of both scholars and practitioners for generations. Within the intricate tapestry of psychiatric literature, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), stands as a guiding compass for understanding this enigmatic condition. Yet, delving into its depths requires more than mere academic prowess; it demands a voyage through the complexities of human experience and perception.

At the heart of the DSM-5 criteria for schizophrenia lies the challenge of capturing the essence of a disorder that defies easy categorization.

Like a chameleon, schizophrenia manifests in myriad forms, each as unique as the individual experiencing it. The manual’s delineation of positive symptoms such as hallucinations and negative symptoms like emotional blunting attempts to distill this kaleidoscope of experiences into diagnostic criteria. However, in doing so, it confronts the inherent limitations of language in encapsulating the richness of human consciousness.

Yet, within this sea of complexity, DSM-5 offers a beacon of hope through its dimensional approach to assessment. By recognizing the spectrum of symptom severity and functional impairment, clinicians can navigate the murky waters of schizophrenia with greater clarity. No longer confined to rigid diagnostic categories, patients are seen as dynamic beings existing along a continuum of experiences. This shift from a binary to a dimensional framework reflects a deeper understanding of the fluidity of mental illness and paves the way for more personalized interventions.

Moreover, DSM-5 serves as a roadmap for the arduous journey of differential diagnosis in schizophrenia. Like a detective unraveling clues in a mystery novel, clinicians must piece together fragments of clinical presentation to discern the true nature of the disorder. Bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and substance-induced psychosis lurk in the shadows, masquerading as schizophrenia in disguise. Only through meticulous assessment and keen observation can the true diagnosis be uncovered, ensuring that patients receive the appropriate treatment and support they need.

Yet, amidst the complexities of diagnostic criteria and differential diagnosis, DSM-5 offers a glimmer of clarity in its discussion of prognosis. Like a weather vane pointing towards the future, specifiers such as the presence of catatonia or the predominant symptomatology provide valuable insights into the course of the illness. Armed with this knowledge, clinicians can chart a course for treatment that takes into account not only the present symptoms but also the potential trajectory of the disorder.

In the end, deciphering the DSM-5 criteria for schizophrenia is not merely an academic exercise; it is a journey of discovery through the labyrinth of the human mind. It requires courage to confront the unknown, empathy to understand the experiences of those living with schizophrenia, and humility to acknowledge the limitations of our understanding. Yet, by embracing the complexities of the disorder and navigating the DSM-5 criteria with care and compassion, we can shine a light into the darkness and offer hope to those in need.

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PapersOwl.com. (2024). Decoding the Enigma: A Journey through the DSM-5 Labyrinth of Schizophrenia . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/decoding-the-enigma-a-journey-through-the-dsm-5-labyrinth-of-schizophrenia/ [Accessed: 16 May. 2024]

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AI-assisted writing is quietly booming in academic journals—here's why that's OK

by Julian Koplin, The Conversation

AI-assisted writing is quietly booming in academic journals—here's why that's OK

If you search Google Scholar for the phrase " as an AI language model ," you'll find plenty of AI research literature and also some rather suspicious results. For example, one paper on agricultural technology says,

"As an AI language model, I don't have direct access to current research articles or studies. However, I can provide you with an overview of some recent trends and advancements …"

Obvious gaffes like this aren't the only signs that researchers are increasingly turning to generative AI tools when writing up their research. A recent study examined the frequency of certain words in academic writing (such as "commendable," "meticulously" and "intricate"), and found they became far more common after the launch of ChatGPT—so much so that 1% of all journal articles published in 2023 may have contained AI-generated text.

(Why do AI models overuse these words? There is speculation it's because they are more common in English as spoken in Nigeria, where key elements of model training often occur.)

The aforementioned study also looks at preliminary data from 2024, which indicates that AI writing assistance is only becoming more common. Is this a crisis for modern scholarship, or a boon for academic productivity?

Who should take credit for AI writing?

Many people are worried by the use of AI in academic papers. Indeed, the practice has been described as " contaminating " scholarly literature.

Some argue that using AI output amounts to plagiarism. If your ideas are copy-pasted from ChatGPT, it is questionable whether you really deserve credit for them.

But there are important differences between "plagiarizing" text authored by humans and text authored by AI. Those who plagiarize humans' work receive credit for ideas that ought to have gone to the original author.

By contrast, it is debatable whether AI systems like ChatGPT can have ideas, let alone deserve credit for them. An AI tool is more like your phone's autocomplete function than a human researcher.

The question of bias

Another worry is that AI outputs might be biased in ways that could seep into the scholarly record. Infamously, older language models tended to portray people who are female, black and/or gay in distinctly unflattering ways, compared with people who are male, white and/or straight.

This kind of bias is less pronounced in the current version of ChatGPT.

However, other studies have found a different kind of bias in ChatGPT and other large language models : a tendency to reflect a left-liberal political ideology.

Any such bias could subtly distort scholarly writing produced using these tools.

The hallucination problem

The most serious worry relates to a well-known limitation of generative AI systems: that they often make serious mistakes.

For example, when I asked ChatGPT-4 to generate an ASCII image of a mushroom, it provided me with the following output.

AI-assisted writing is quietly booming in academic journals—here's why that's OK

It then confidently told me I could use this image of a "mushroom" for my own purposes.

These kinds of overconfident mistakes have been referred to as "AI hallucinations" and " AI bullshit ." While it is easy to spot that the above ASCII image looks nothing like a mushroom (and quite a bit like a snail), it may be much harder to identify any mistakes ChatGPT makes when surveying scientific literature or describing the state of a philosophical debate.

Unlike (most) humans, AI systems are fundamentally unconcerned with the truth of what they say. If used carelessly, their hallucinations could corrupt the scholarly record.

Should AI-produced text be banned?

One response to the rise of text generators has been to ban them outright. For example, Science—one of the world's most influential academic journals—disallows any use of AI-generated text .

I see two problems with this approach.

The first problem is a practical one: current tools for detecting AI-generated text are highly unreliable. This includes the detector created by ChatGPT's own developers, which was taken offline after it was found to have only a 26% accuracy rate (and a 9% false positive rate ). Humans also make mistakes when assessing whether something was written by AI.

It is also possible to circumvent AI text detectors. Online communities are actively exploring how to prompt ChatGPT in ways that allow the user to evade detection. Human users can also superficially rewrite AI outputs, effectively scrubbing away the traces of AI (like its overuse of the words "commendable," "meticulously" and "intricate").

The second problem is that banning generative AI outright prevents us from realizing these technologies' benefits. Used well, generative AI can boost academic productivity by streamlining the writing process. In this way, it could help further human knowledge. Ideally, we should try to reap these benefits while avoiding the problems.

The problem is poor quality control, not AI

The most serious problem with AI is the risk of introducing unnoticed errors, leading to sloppy scholarship. Instead of banning AI, we should try to ensure that mistaken, implausible or biased claims cannot make it onto the academic record.

After all, humans can also produce writing with serious errors, and mechanisms such as peer review often fail to prevent its publication.

We need to get better at ensuring academic papers are free from serious mistakes, regardless of whether these mistakes are caused by careless use of AI or sloppy human scholarship. Not only is this more achievable than policing AI usage, it will improve the standards of academic research as a whole.

This would be (as ChatGPT might say) a commendable and meticulously intricate solution.

Provided by The Conversation

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ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University

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Home > Andrew Young School of Policy Studies > Dissertations > 82

AYSPS Dissertations

Essays on environmental economics.

John Alexander Gomez Mahecha Follow

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4319-1391

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Dr. Spencer Banzhaf

Second Advisor

Dr. Jorge A. Bonilla Londoño

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Feltenstein

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Garth Heutel

This dissertation discusses the results of new empirical evidence in two topics of significant importance in the environmental economics field, both of them also an essential part of my research agenda. First, carbon pricing is one of the most significant contributions of Economics to the ongoing climate crisis. Based on the Pigouvian tax, carbon pricing is expected to be a major tool for achieving the required reductions in carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and other greenhouse gases efficiently. On the other hand, the effect of air quality on health outcomes, and therefore human welfare, has been one of the major issues of research in the field. Understanding the associated costs is needed to properly assess the alternatives to address air pollution in our cities and countries. The long tradition in the literature has accumulated years of research in the topics, with results continuously showing significant costs on health outcomes. This document presents three research papers on these two topics, addressing particular gaps in the current literature and providing additional empirical evidence.

Chapters I and II touch base on climate policy in developing countries by exploring the consequences and challenges of carbon pricing in Colombia. Previous studies have been centered on the experience of developed countries or groups of them. Colombia is an opportunity to evaluate a carbon pricing strategy under a design that is similar to what we can expect from future implementations in other developing countries. First, from a causal inference framework, Chapter I estimates the effects of the carbon tax on the country’s emissions. In Chapter II, I use a general equilibrium model to evaluate the environmental and economic costs of a major exemption on the Colombian carbon tax design.

Chapter III deeps into the literature on air pollution and its health outcomes. This chapter, written in collaboration with Dr. Wes Austin, Dr. Stefano Carattini, and Dr. Michael Pesko, explores the relationship between contemporaneous air pollution exposure and COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.

Recommended Citation

Gomez Mahecha, John Alexander, "ESSAYS ON ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2024. https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/aysps_dissertations/82

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Highlights from the 2024 Kweli Color of Children's Literature Conference

The 10th annual Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference, held April 19–21, featured a notable lineup of authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals participating in the nation’s largest children’s book conference exclusively for Black, Indigenous, and other creators of color. For the first time since 2019, the entire event was held in person, at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. All photos by Ozier Muhammad.

The conference kicked off in earnest on Saturday, April 20, but attendees could opt to participate in one of six master classes on Friday, including “Writing Home” with Ibi Zoboi ( American Street ), “Touching the Heart: Revising the Verse Novel” with Aida Salazar ( Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter ), or “Picture and Word” with Aya Ghanameh ( These Olive Trees ).

On Saturday and Sunday, the Kweli conference offered full days of programming. “Censorship” and “silence” were a common through line in many of Saturday’s panels. In “Free People Read Freely: Fighting Book Bans” with Seema Yasmin ( Unbecoming ) and Gwendolyn Maya Wallace ( The Light She Feels Inside ), moderated by Hannah Moushabeck ( Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine ), the panelists named the unprecedented censoring of books about race, racism, gender, and sexuality, and brainstormed how to strategically challenge such bans. In “Walk Straight: Resisting Silence and Self-Censorship,” Frederick Joseph ( We Alive, Beloved ), Rhonda Roumani ( Insha’Allah, No, Maybe So ), Zoboi, and Autumn Allen ( All You Have to Do ), who served as moderator, exhorted writers to resist silence and self-censorship when creating works about empowerment, identity, or social justice, and to embrace the importance of speaking truth to power.

Sunday’s panels focused on the nuts and bolts of writing, illustrating, and publishing. Editors Traci N. Todd (author), Irene Vázquez (Levine Querido) and Phoebe Yeh (Crown Books for Young Readers) weighed in on excerpts from writers in the Kweli audience during a session titled “Voice and Audience: First Pages.” Ghanameh, Rahma Rodaah ( Dear Muslim Child ), and Jasmin Rubero, associate art director at Kokila, examined peritext and design elements in Rodaah and Ghanameh’s book, as well as in Being Home by Traci Sorell and Michaela Goade, during “Behind the Scenes: Art and Design.” Authors Jyoti Rajan Gopal ( Sister Day ), Meghana Narayan ( A Little Bit of Everythin g), and Wallace discussed all the things they wish they’d known before their first books came out, including how to plan a book tour and how to practice self-care even as simultaneous deadlines loom, in “Marketing: What I Wish I Knew Before My Debut.”

Keynote highlights

The weekend was punctuated by inspirational keynotes by Allen, Safia Elhillo ( Girls That Never Die ), Amina Luqman-Dawson ( Freewater ), and Jason Reynolds ( Ain’t Burned All the Bright) in conversation with Cozbi A. Cabrera ( Me & Mama ).

Allen gave the opening keynote. “In here, we hold a sacred space for freedom,” she said. “We are free to dream, we are free to bond and unite and focus on love and joy and healing and striving and shaping our gifts so that we can give them to the world. Keep writing and keep making art; keep speaking up and keep telling our truth. We who write for young people are in the business of saving lives.”

In her address, Elhillo encouraged writers to play with language, especially those with access and faculty in more than one tongue. “What gives Shakespeare more of a right to play with language?” she said. “Make a little more room for the stuff you are trying to say with other languages. Often hybridity and hyphen-ness is used to invalidate. If we dispose with the premise of purity when it comes to language, what are the possibilities of populating that canon, and making it so that purity of language or fluency or mastery are not prerequisites to enter into it?”

Luqman-Dawson spoke of showing grace towards oneself. “Some of your perceived weaknesses may in fact be part of your writing superpower,” she said. “I encourage you to do a nice little audit of your weaknesses. [They] may be the ingredient that makes our art great.”

“I don’t have any fear of writing badly because it is guaranteed,” Reynolds said in his conversation with Cabrera. “It is foolish to be fearful of the inevitable. It is guaranteed that whatever I put on the page will be bad first. What you worried about? All your OGs, all your heroes, ain’t none of us ever seen Toni’s first drafts. The greatest writer of our time, but we ain’t never seen her first drafts. We all have to go through the process.”

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UW Press celebrates Shawn Wong's Aiiieeeee! and a 50-year legacy of Asian American Literature

Aiiieeeee

The UW Alumni Magazine, Viewpoint , published an article about the 50th anniversary of Shawn Wong's anthology, Aiiieeeee! along with 50 years of UW Press publishing Asian American writing, mentioning many English Deptment graduates who published books as well. To read the article click here: Finding the Words: UW Press Celebrates "Aiiieeeee!" and a 50 year legacy of Asian American Literature .

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Kathleen Hanna on Kurt Cobain friendship, Courtney Love sucker punch, Bikini Kill legacy

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Kathleen Hanna is the queen of her own world now.

The 55-year-old punk rock icon, best known as lead singer of Bikini Kill and pioneer of the musical feminist movement Riot Grrrl , opens up about her life and career in “ Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk ” (Ecco, 324 pp., out now).

In the ‘90s, Bikini Kill’s music became a righteous snarl for women alienated by sexism, particularly the band’s 1993 single “Rebel Girl.” Over the years, the song has been embraced in pop culture for its feminine fieriness, from soundtrack appearances on “Orange is the New Black” and “Little Wing” to a cameo in Miley Cyrus’ Super Bowl preshow prep.

But Hanna says the fesity banger, inspired by labor activist Joe Hill , goes beyond surface-level girl power and rock ‘n’ roll rebellion.

“I also think about kids who stand up to their teacher in class, whatever gender they are, and say, ‘You got my pronoun wrong,’ ” Hanna tells USA TODAY. “There’s all different ways to be rebellious. It doesn’t just have to be being a punk rocker and wearing a certain kind of outfit or having purple hair.”

Check out: USA TODAY's weekly Best-selling Booklist

Kathleen Hanna on writing about her sexual trauma

Hanna, who has a background in crisis counseling, gets candid about her experience with sexual violence in “Rebel Girl.”

From having nude photographs of herself published by an ex-boyfriend in college to being groped by a venue employee during an unruly Los Angeles concert, Hanna says it was important to acknowledge this spectrum of abuse.

“The traumas with a capital T set me up to keep being traumatized because I kept getting into bad situations because I thought I deserved it,” Hanna says. “So, I would walk into toxic situations and stay, whereas maybe if I had learned earlier to listen to my intuition and all of that kind of stuff, I may have left.”

The “Reject All American” singer hopes sharing her history can comfort and empower readers dealing with trauma.

“A lot of times, I wouldn’t talk about this stuff because it felt overwhelming and like it was too much and nobody would believe me,” Hanna says. “So, I hope that people who do have complicated and difficult stories read this and they’re like, ‘Oh, I feel seen, or I feel validated.’ ”

Kathleen Hanna coined the phrase ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ during her Kurt Cobain friendship

Hanna befriended Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain when the two were part of the art and music scenes in Olympia, Washington. She inadvertently contributed to the band’s mainstream breakthrough after a night of debauchery together.

During a drunken “rampage,” Hanna wrote “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit,” on Cobain’s bedroom wall, and he used it to title the lead single of Nirvana’s major-label debut “ Nevermind .”

“It was a night of partying. I wrote something on a wall,” Hanna says matter-of-factly. “Did I have any idea it was going to become one of the most well-known songs in the world? Absolutely not.”

Kurt Cobain: Rock singer remembered on 30th anniversary of death by daughter Frances Bean

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 , while “Nevermind” went on to sell 10 million copies .

“These were two kids from Aberdeen who loved KISS and started a band, and they were very enmeshed in a scene that was like, ‘Don’t be on a major label. Don’t make money,’ ” Hanna says. But “millions of kids have picked up guitars because of them. Millions of kids have started writing songs and expressing themselves.”

She adds: “I just really wish that Kurt was still around so we could be old together and chit-chat.”

Tom Selleck dishes in memoir: Why actor was asked to break up John Travolta's dance with Princess Diana

What Kathleen Hanna learned from Courtney Love assault

While attending Lollapalooza 1995 , Hanna was approached by singer-songwriter Courtney Love , wife of Hanna’s friend Cobain. Despite not having a relationship with Love, Hanna writes that the Hole frontwoman harassed her in the crowd after Hole’s set and later punched her in the face.

Love was given a criminal citation for the assault and subsequently prosecuted for the offense.

“It happened at a specific time when there was a lot of people who I loved who were dying of AIDS, suicide or drug abuse, so it was like this weird thing that happened at a very hard time in my life already,” Hanna reflects. “And I had no idea why this was happening because there was no precipitating event. I didn’t say anything rude. I didn’t do anything.”

'Taylor Swift is not important': Courtney Love slams female music artists

But instead of condemning Love in the press, Hanna kept to herself. She says the experience helped her define her relationship with the media, as outlets covering the assault portrayed Love’s attack as a “catfight” between the women.

“I made the decision at that point not to talk back or not to insert myself to try to tell the truth because I knew it would just fuel the whole thing, and I didn’t want to provide free content for people,” Hanna says. “I wanted to make music, and I wanted to be there for my friends, and that was more important to me than getting my side of the story out there.”

Kathleen Hanna on her marriage to Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz

Hanna also opens up about her decadeslong relationship with musician Adam Horovitz , better known as Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys . The two married in 2006 and share a son.

While the couple has yet to release music together, Hanna says Horovitz inspired her to rethink her approach to business. The professional support afforded to the Beastie Boys with their major-label status stood in contrast to Hanna, who says she was “DIY-ing myself into the ground” with the lack of support on her independent label projects.

“I didn’t know about jobs like publicists, manager, booking agent, so we did everything ourselves. And that was great,” Hanna says. “You have control over the situation. But at a certain point, when do you have time to write songs if you’re always booking shows and you’re doing your own management?”

Aside from music, Hanna says their contrasting experiences with public scrutiny were a sobering reminder of the gender-based stigma that plagues female artists.

“I’ve been boycotted so many times by so many different groups of people, and Beastie Boys — while I love a lot of their later work — their earlier work was very sexist and, in some cases, homophobic,” Hanna says. “And it really helped validate the fact that I felt like some of it was happening because I’m a woman and specifically a feminist woman, and that it just becomes a lightning rod for all kinds of people to get angry.”

Kathleen Hanna is embracing musical legacy with Bikini Kill reunion

Despite the fervent support of its diehard fans, Bikini Kill disbanded in early 1998, with Hanna citing her own mental-health journey and internal issues in the band as contributing factors. Following a two-decade hiatus, Bikini Kill reunited for a performance in 2017, which helped reactivate the band’s touring life.

Hanna says putting the band back together has given her the opportunity to “go back into a situation that when I left was really not healthy for me to be in.

“I needed to leave Bikini Kill when I did,” Hanna says. “I was so overwhelmed, and I think our relationships had degraded to such a bad place because we felt attacked from all sides and constantly misrepresented and treated poorly.”

Hanna has found redemption in reconnecting with the band’s music. The Riot Grrrl rockers, she now sees, were not simply political provocateurs. They had a great musical pen, too.

“As I’m singing these songs (again), I’m like, ‘These songs are awesome,’ ” Hanna says. “I’m being validated that we weren’t just a feminist band. We’re actually a great punk band.”

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline offers free, confidential, 24/7 support to survivors and their loved ones in English and Spanish at: 800.656.HOPE (4673) and  Hotline.RAINN.org  and en Español  RAINN.org/es .

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    Literary Analysis Essay Topics for the Subject of Race. "Waiting for the Barbarians" by J.M. Coetzee. Race and Injustice in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. Race and fellowship in Melville's Moby Dick. "Under The Feet Of Jesus". Description of culture and tradition in "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid.

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    Mark Twain is one of the greatest American writers and satirists. But his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn delved into themes that would make some of the most serious literary analysis essay topics, such as the theme of freedom vs. slavery. The theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  3. 120 Literary Essay Topics

    Evaluate the methods used in a self-help book. Review a political science text. Compare and contrast the autobiographies of two different philosophers. Compare and contrast the claims made in two history books. With any of these 120 literary essay topics, you'll be able to deep-dive into the world of literature and create an impressive essay ...

  4. 100-Plus Writing Prompts to Explore Common Themes in Literature and

    Identity. We ask students, " Are You Being Raised to Pursue Your Dreams? " Our prompt is based on the article "How to Raise a Feminist Son.". Illustration by Agnes Lee. 1. Are You the Same ...

  5. 450+ Literary Analysis Essay Topics & Prompt Ideas in 2023

    American Literature Essay Topics. American literature has produced some of the most iconic works in history. Take a glance at these essay topics for American literature analysis essay topics to get motivated: Racial tensions in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Transcendentalism in Walden. Role of women in The Scarlet Letter.

  6. 250 Literature Research Paper Topic: Literary Ideas for You

    Here is a list of English literature research paper topics for your perfect essay! Gender representation during medieval English literature. Colonialism's effects on British literary works during the 18th century. Influence of British writers on modern literature. The role of nature in 18th-century British novels.

  7. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    Table of contents. Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices. Step 2: Coming up with a thesis. Step 3: Writing a title and introduction. Step 4: Writing the body of the essay. Step 5: Writing a conclusion. Other interesting articles.

  8. Literary Analysis: Essay Prompts, Outline, & American Literature Topics

    Overview. The literary analysis aims at solving the mysteries of a book using one's critical thinking. When analyzing a novel, you can see how all those characters, places, objects, and events obtain new senses. Any literature work consists of thousands of micro-details that require close reading in the first place.

  9. Choosing a Literary Topic

    To help you get started, we've come up with a list of common literary themes that you can apply to almost any literary work you read. Personal roles. Personal roles typically fall into four categories: gender, family, occupational, or socioeconomic roles. Perhaps the story challenges (or embraces) traditional gender or family roles.

  10. Literature Topics and Research

    A comparison/contrast of the choices different authors or characters make in a work. A reading of a work based on an outside philosophical perspective (Ex. how would a Freudian read Hamlet ?) A study of the sources or historical events that occasioned a particular work (Ex. comparing G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion with the original Greek myth of ...

  11. Research Topics in English Literature

    Ideas for Writing English Papers. Research topics on English literature initially start off broad and then narrow down and you come up with your thesis. Using any of the research topics listed (gender, comparisons, historical background, politics, and religion) can take you almost anywhere. Choose your general topic based on the literature ...

  12. Tops 50 Literary Essay Topics

    Literature courses are usually all about reading and then writing about what you have just read. Sometimes, it's quite hard to comprehend what you are reading about, let alone to write an essay and analyze everything. Luckily for you, this article will summarize all the literary analysis topics and ideas you might come across and it will provide insights that will help you a lot when you ...

  13. 130 New Prompts for Argumentative Writing

    Try our student writing prompts. In 2017, we compiled a list of 401 argumentative writing prompts, all drawn from our daily Student Opinion column. Now, we're rounding up 130 more we've ...

  14. 100+ Literary Essay Topics For High Schoolers

    Literary essay topics on English literature. Portrayal of women in 'Othello'. Relationships in 'Pride and Prejudice'. Main characters of 'Pride and Prejudice'. Jane Austen Vs. Thomas Hardy. Romance in Thomas Hardy. Societal influences in 'Wuthering Heights'. Portrayal of Romance in 'Wuthering Heights'.

  15. 100+ Excellent Literature Research Paper Topics

    Students have many topics to choose from when it comes to British literature essay topics. Here are some of the best literature topics from the works of British authors. Discuss Victorian England's picture with the works of Charles Dickens in mind. Discuss the theme of Orphans with the Oliver Twist character in mind.

  16. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  17. Essays About Literature: Top 6 Examples And 8 Prompts

    8 Prompts for Essays About Literature. 1. The Importance of Literature. In your essay, write about the importance of literature; explain why we need to study literature and how it can help us in the future. Then, give examples of literary works that teach important moral lessons as evidence. 2.

  18. The 10 Best Essay Collections of the Decade ‹ Literary Hub

    Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass (2013) Of every essay in my relentlessly earmarked copy of Braiding Sweetgrass, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer's gorgeously rendered argument for why and how we should keep going, there's one that especially hits home: her account of professor-turned-forester Franz Dolp.When Dolp, several decades ago, revisited the farm that he had once shared with his ex ...

  19. Romantic Literature Essay Topics and Thesis Ideas

    Romantic novels you might be familiar with are Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott), Nightmare Abbey (Thomas Love Peacock), and Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, both by Jane Austen. If you've been assigned to write an essay pertaining to English romanticism, I'm offering you some romantic literature essay topics ...

  20. Decoding the Enigma: A Journey through the DSM-5 Labyrinth of

    Essay Example: Schizophrenia, a labyrinthine puzzle of the mind, has captured the intrigue of both scholars and practitioners for generations. Within the intricate tapestry of psychiatric literature, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), stands as

  21. Journal of Economic Literature

    The Journal of Economic Literature (JEL), first published in 1969, is designed to help economists keep abreast of and synthesize the vast flow of literature. Read more about the JEL. Current Issue Vol. 62, No. 1, March 2024 . Current Issue All Issues Forthcoming Articles. Find articles in this journal. Title ...

  22. AI-assisted writing is quietly booming in academic journals—here's why

    Many people are worried by the use of AI in academic papers. Indeed, the practice has been described as "contaminating" scholarly literature. Some argue that using AI output amounts to plagiarism ...

  23. "ESSAYS ON ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS" by John Alexander Gomez Mahecha

    This dissertation discusses the results of new empirical evidence in two topics of significant importance in the environmental economics field, both of them also an essential part of my research agenda. First, carbon pricing is one of the most significant contributions of Economics to the ongoing climate crisis. Based on the Pigouvian tax, carbon pricing is expected to be a major tool for ...

  24. Highlights from the 2024 Kweli Color of Children's Literature Conference

    The 10th annual Kweli Color of Children's Literature Conference, held April 19-21, featured a notable lineup of authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals participating in the nation's ...

  25. UW Press celebrates Shawn Wong's

    The UW Alumni Magazine, Viewpoint, published an article about the 50th anniversary of Shawn Wong's anthology, Aiiieeeee! along with 50 years of UW Press publishing Asian American writing, mentioning many English Deptment graduates who published books as well. To read the article click here: Finding the Words: UW Press Celebrates "Aiiieeeee!"and a 50 year legacy of Asian American Literature.

  26. Kathleen Hanna opens up about Kurt Cobain, Bikini Kill music in memoir

    0:59. Kathleen Hanna is the queen of her own world now. The 55-year-old punk rock icon, best known as lead singer of Bikini Kill and pioneer of the musical feminist movement Riot Grrrl, opens up ...