The major writing assignment for this week is to compose a paper of at least two pages in which you write interpretively from a historical perspective about the assigned poems from Huges Poems. Within your paper you will need to assume, first of all, that your audience must be informed as to what constitutes a historical critical perspective of literature. Additionally, you should consider some of the following critical questions that will help you in your analysis:
- When were these works written and published? Did social attitudes of that time influence the works and their reception?
- What kinds of social and historical understandings do readers need to have to interpret the works?
- What, if anything, in the poems reflects differences in thoughts and values that existed at the time or any of the other poets wrote and those that exist now?
- How do the poems illuminate the past for us?
- Is there a theme that is pervasive in these poems that may not be of much import in the twenty-first century?
For this assignment, choose two poems to analyze from the group of poems assigned by your instructor at the beginning of Week 4, closely considering them through a historical lens. This assignment does not ask you to write a compare/contrast essay but rather, to closely read the poems, with a special eye toward the time period and culture that produced them. Choose one main theme as it is expressed in two poems of your choice and remember to create an original and clear thesis that you deepen over the course of the essay. Below, are some broad themes that you might use to explore the poems. Do note that this list need not confine you as you are not limited to it.
- “The Negro Mother”
- “The Weary Blues”
- “Still Here”
- “Minstrel Man”
- “The Dream Keeper”
- “Mother to Son”
- “Juke Box Love Song”
- “A Dream Deferred”
- “I, Too”