Literature Essay Topics: 22 Great Examples


When writing a literature essay assignment, it’s important to first select a great topic that is unique and interesting. There are plenty of ideas to explore, but we know that it can be hard to come up with some just off the top of your head. This is why we’ve provided this list of 22 great examples for you try out:

  1. Taking one American novel from the 19th century and another from the 20th century, describe the shift in paradigms.

  2. Choose two 20th century American writers and compare their differences in approach regarding instinct and discipline.

  3. How have writing styles in the England and the United States changed in the last half-century? Do people’s education-level affect writers’ styles?

  4. How influential were Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series of novels on the subsequent mystery genre?

  5. Make a case for removing American playwrights from the English canon of literary works. Do you think American-theatrical drama is in a state of demise?

  6. What’s the biggest concern about what gets put in and what gets left out of the English canon? Do you think the canon is determined largely by contemporary cultural values?

  7. How influential are large publishing houses in determining what people get to read? Do you think the classic works of the 20th century deserve less recognition because of this?

  8. Compare and contrast Shakespeare’s dramas with those of 20th century playwrights. What are the major differences in terms of themes explored?

  9. Many have argued that the Science Fiction genre is a byproduct of the Western genre which first was popular in the 19th century. Do you agree with this assessment?

  10. Select a novel and its film adaptation and analyze the different (or similar) portrayals of major characters. How do each appeal to certain audiences?

  11. Choose a British poet from the Romantic period and analyze two published major works. Is there a distinct commentary about English society?

  12. How does Charles Dickens use the major characters from his novels to portray the image of common English society in the 19th century?

  13. In considering both the Koran and the Bible as early literary works comprised by several authors, what elements between the two are similar?

  14. What are the major themes explored in modern Japanese literary works? How are these different from those of the late 19th century?

  15. Provide an analysis of modern writers’ success across different popular genres. Do publishers have too much control over what becomes popular?

  16. Compare and contrast the Russian war epic with the British war epic. What similarities and differences exist between each country’s individual perception of war?

  17. Provide a critical analysis of the major characters of three of Shakespeare’s tragic dramas. How does he treat each character?

  18. Compare and contrast the German novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” with the American novel “A Farewell to Arms”.

  19. How are the Science Fiction and Western genres similar in the way protagonists have to deal with lawlessness and unpredictability?

  20. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have long been viewed by critics as satirical commentaries of the American South of the 19th century. Do you agree with this assessment?

  21. Compare and contrast Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey. How does each present the hero as the truest form of the ideal male protagonist?

  22. Compare and contrast the genre of horror fiction in the late 19th century with that of the late 20th century. What elements have remained the same and what has changed?

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