Fight the power. Like many literary scholars, I have a habit of looking for protest or subversiveness in
most things that I read. I’m on the alert for moments in which the text is lodging a protest, subverting
“the system,” exposing hypocrisy, or speaking out for change. Sometimes this protest element is clearly
present (e.g., Douglass’s Narrative). Sometimes it’s subtle (e.g., Wheatley?). Sometimes it’s not there at
all (e.g., Wheatley?).
Some texts that perhaps aren’t overtly protesting the system (though they might be protesting in
some more subtle way) are listed below. Choose one or two of these texts and argue that they are, in fact,
protest literature: that they are undermining, critiquing, or protesting the status quo in some way.
Provide evidence to show what they are critiquing, and to show what exactly their critique is.
TEXT OPTIONS: Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul; The Sugar-Cane; “Murders in the Rue Morgue”;
Ragged Dick; “Bartleby”; Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta;
* Choose one or more poems.
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