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A List of the Most Popular College Essay Topics in Literature

When studying English literature, it can seem like every good topic has already been taken. Many classics have been written and discussed for centuries. Students who need additional topic ideas can always use some of the ideas on this list. Although many of these topics have been used in the past, they are still a great way to start brainstorming college essay topics. Students can write about topics like modernism, deconstruction, postmodernism and textual criticism.

College Essay Topics for Literature

  • 1. Describe a poem that has special meaning for you and deconstruct it.
  • 2. How does Harry Potter compare to the biblical story of Jesus?
  • 3. What can be learned about marriage and relationships in Elizabethan England by reading Shakespeare?
  • 4. What effect did Pushkin have on Russian literature?
  • 5. Why is being buried alive such a common reoccurring theme in Edgar Allan Poe's works?
  • 6. When Jane Austen first released her novels, it was through a pen name. Later, many men refused to believe that her books could have been written by a women. Recently, the famed author, J. K. Rowling, chose to use initials because she was told that boys would not read a book written by a woman. What other historical female authors have dealt with this problem? Is it still an issue?
  • 7. What makes the love story between Romeo and Juliet so tragic?
  • 8. Why are most of the oldest examples of Japanese literature written by women? What are some of the motifs in the Pillow Book?
  • 9. How does Lady Macbeth control the plot in the play Macbeth? How does Shakespeare use the witches for?
  • 10. What caused Ophelia to commit suicide?
  • 11. Originally, Louisa May Alcott's first novel was a romance. What caused her to switch and start writing books like Little Women?
  • 12. How did F. Scott Fitzgerald's works end up characterizing the Jazz Age? How did his role in the Lost Generation impact his work?
  • 13. How did Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness illustrate a racist worldview? How did it show his own opinion on racism?
  • 14. Do authors deliberately use symbolism in their books?
  • 15. How does the modern Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw compare to the ancient Greek myth about Pygmalion?
  • 16. In 1984, George Orwell wrote about a dystopian world where Big Brother is always watching. How many of his predictions have come to pass? How did his experience during World War II influence his writing in this book?
  • 17. Popular classics like Jane Eyre often use the concept of the young orphan girl. Why does the orphan child remain such a fixture in literature?
  • 18. What led to the creation of dime-store novels?
  • 19. What makes a book become a classic? Does it have to be loved by critics to be a classic?


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