Assignment: Literary Agents of Change

Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Life of Frederick Douglass were both tremendously popular in their time. Thirty thousand copies of Douglass’s work were sold between 1845 and 1860. The initial 5,000 copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold out in just two days, and by the end of the first year, 300,000 copies had been sold in America and 200,000 copies sold in England. In addition, both works had an enormous impact on the anti-slavery movement and won many new supporters to its cause (“Slave Narratives and Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2958.html).

Both Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Life of Frederick Douglass had a profound impact on social change in American Society. For this assessment, select either Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Life of Frederick Douglass. Next, think of a more contemporary piece of literature that has had a similar impact on social change in America and write a persuasive paper (750-1,000 words) comparing/contrasting the influence each has had on the fabric of American society.

You will need to conduct research and do the following:

  • Establish a thesis comparing and/or contrasting the two works being considered. Was one impact on society more profound than the other? Were they equally impacting? Did the change one or both brought about touch the whole of society or only a small segment? etc. In other words, make a claim regarding the two works which demonstrates some comparison and/or contrast regarding its influence on society.
  • Cite at least three secondary sources from the school’s library to support your thesis and subclaims.
  • Use summary, paraphrase, and direct quotes (minimum of five required) from the primary texts to support your thesis and subclaims.
  • All MLA formatting guidelines are followed
  • Possible search topics: popularity of slave narratives; rise of sentimentalism; growth of the literary marketplace

Grading Rubric

Fell Below Expectations Met Expectations Exceeded Expectations
A clear thesis is established comparing and/or contrasting the two works of literature 1 2 3
Subclaims are established in the main body paragraphs that clearly support the thesis 1 2 3
Academic sources are incorporated that support the student’s thesis and subclaims. Minimum of three required. 1 2 3
Direct quotes, summaries, and paraphrases are used from the text to support the thesis and subclaims. Minimum of 5 required 1 2 3
The argument is compelling and persuasive and a deeper meaning of the text is addressed rather than a simple summary 1 2 3
The organization pattern is logical. 1 2 3
Required length is met 1 2 3
MLA formatting guidelines are followed 1 2 3