Americanism Discussion and Essay

During his own lifetime, and often since then, Benjamin Franklin has been described as “the first American,” as someone who through his life and works epitomizes some attitude, spirit, action–or something else that distinguishes the United States. One wonders if anything that Franklin represented lives in popular American thought, today.

I challenge you to identify some contemporary piece of art, music, literature, or any other cultural artifact that you believe reflects the same (or similar) theme as you find in Franklin’s autobiography.

 Support your idea with accurate, precise evidence. For both works, point out (with careful cited paraphrase and/or accurate and cited quote) the sentences(s) where in the text you see evidence of the theme you have identified and, to the extent necessary, explain why you believe those sentences illustrate the theme you claim.

Book: The Norton Anthology of American Literature Pre-1865, Ninth Edition,

read  Parts One and Two of Benjamin Franklin’s “The Autobiography” in the Norton, pages 467 – 531

Essay : Then Write an essay of about 350-500 words that develops a single idea that you have conceived in response to from the discussions and readings.

For full credit, the essay should include the following:

  • A short introduction that raises the issue/context and offers a succinct, arguable thesis (your idea);
  • At least two body paragraphs;
  • Body paragraphs that begin with a topic sentence (a claim that develops the logic of the thesis);
  • Body paragraphs that contain accurate and precise evidence to illustrate the claim of the topic sentence;
  • Sufficient interpretation of the evidence to explain how it illustrates the claim of the paragraph;
  • MLA format (see the Purdue Online Writing Lab for examples);
  • Effective editing that eliminates major errors (comma splices, fused sentences, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, subject/verb errors, mixed sentences, wordiness, and obvious typological errors); and
  • A brief conclusion that re-emphasizes the main idea of the essay.

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