20 Possible Topics For Your Essay On American Literature


The subject of American Literature is a rather open-ended one with over 200 years of material for your teacher to draw from to make the syllabus. You never know quite what to expect, except that eventually you’ll be expected to write an essay on something you’ve read. That’s why you’re here, reading this: you need help getting started.

Some Topic Ideas

The only way to start an essay that has actual value is to pick a topic to focus on, and that topic needs to be based on what you’ve read. Now, while we can’t say for certain what you’ve had to read in American Literature, we can give you this list of twenty possible topics based on commonly studied books. Feel free to use any that fit your assignments

  1. Explaining the Narrative Arc of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”
  2. The Use of Racist Language in Huckleberry Finn
  3. What The Great Gatsby Says About Wealth
  4. The Crucible and McCarthy
  5. Comparing Race Relations in Huckleberry Finn and Invisible Man
  6. Why Moby Dick is a Greek Tragedy
  7. Analysis of Steinbeck’s Working-class Heroes
  8. Is Anyone Sane in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
  9. The Themes of Ayn Rand’s Anthem.
  10. Modern-day Scarlet Letters
  11. The Importance of Slave Literature
  12. Themes in Native American Literature
  13. Where Civilization Ends and Savagery Begins in Call of the Wild
  14. Uncommon Lessons from To Kill a Mockingbird
  15. The Nature of Truth in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  16. Comparing Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to 1984.
  17. Edgar Allen Poe and the Gothic Romance
  18. Social Impact of Muckraking Books like The Jungle
  19. Contemporary Applications for Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  20. The Relevance of War-time Literature Today

Making Your Own Topic

If you don’t see an idea here that matches what you need, then you can always use this list as a starting point for brainstorming new ideas. In general, an easy way to generate a good American Literature essay topic is to identify a major theme in the book or selection you’ve been assigned and ask how that theme reflects the material’s time period or how it applies to contemporary society. You can also examine character motivations and argue whether or not they make sense, or draw comparisons to another book or selection you’ve read.

Now that you have a place to start, go out there and write the best American Literature essay of your life!