To demonstrate your analytical and interpretive skills, you will write a critical essay based on our discussion and reading of poetry. Your essay must include a critical thesis and you must support that thesis in a clear and logical way. Possible topics linked to our reading of Langston Hughes are listed below.
500-700 words: typed, double space, standard margins and font;
- citations of poetry and Work(s) Cited page done correctly, MLA format
1. Jazz music, particularly the blues, is a major influence for sound and sense in Hughes poetry. Discuss this musical influence and make a point about the value of this twentieth century poetic innovation.
2. Love is a common theme in poetry throughout the ages, in various cultures. How is the theme of love treated by Hughes? Be selective in your choices of poems for examination: three to four poems for focus.
3. Recurring images may imply personal or cultural symbols. Choose one of the recurring images in Hughes and explain the symbolic value of that image. Possibilities: the moon, Harlem, dreams, music.
4. Hughes has been considered a master of dramatic technique both in prose and poetry. Discuss the elements of drama that emerge in the poems included in the collection Madam to You (210-218).
5. How does the poet approach history compared to others? Using three poems, show how Hughes poetic approach to history adds some dimension that might otherwise be lost.
6. Library option: Choose one of Hughes essays or short stories to compare with a poem for analysis. Discuss the parallels and the contrasts between these two expressions in order to assess Hughes as a writer, not just a poet.
7. Choose a topic of your own that would involve an analysis of some poetry by Langston Hughes. You may want to focus on his style, his identity, his cultural contribution or some other aspect of his influence as a leading artist of the twentieth century. Consult instructor for topic approval.