Good research paper topics for your literature class are to write about contemporary literature, new book authors, and contemporary poetry. In new literature books, contemporary authors and poets write about history, travel, foreign places and war.
For your term paper, here is a sampling of contemporary authors.
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
For your term paper, you can write about contemporary authors who use history to guide a fictional story. Debut author Yaa Gyasi received a $1 million advance for Homegoing, her novel about eight generations of descendants from Ghana’s slave trade. Born in Ghana, Gyasi moved with her family at age three to the United States and settled in Alabama. She earned degrees in English from Stanford University and the Iowa Writers Workshop. As a sophomore in college, she returned to Ghana to visit the infamous Cape Coast Castle, a hub for the Atlantic slave trade.
Gyasi’s book, Homegoing, fictionalizes the very different lives of blacks at the fort. Some black women married the British soldiers stationed there and led relatively easy lives. Others, who were imprisoned underground, were sold as slaves and shipped to America. After visiting the fort, Gyasi remarked in “A 26-Year-old Looks to the Past for Her Literary Debut,” by Sarah Begley in Time.com June 5, 2016: “That juxtaposition of the majesty upstairs with the awfulness and despair downstairs really struck me,” she said. “I was really struck also that there were women upstairs who maybe didn’t understand or realize what was going on underneath them.” In her book, Gyasi follows the descendants of half-sisters from 1850, through the Harlem Renaissance to the 21st century.
Back to Russia, by Guillermo Erades
Time and place are themes in many contemporary books that would make an interesting term paper topic. Born in Spain, author Guillermo Erades has lived all over the world. At the age of 20, he got his first job with the European Union stationed in Moscow. It was the turn of the 21st century at the beginning of the Vladimir Putin years and the experience changed his life. He said the job and the city had a Wild West feeling. Erades’ goal in writing Back to Russia was the desire “to write a love story between a main character and a city. Moscow has marked me as a person and given me a lot in my life. I thought I’d pay it back with a book,” in “Writers to Watch Spring 2016: Anticipated Debut Fiction,” by Daniel Lefferts at PublishersWeekly.com January 29, 2016.
Look: Poems, by Solmaz Sharif
Effects of war and trying to understand it through poetry often go hand in hand. Of Iranian ethnicity, born in Turkey and now a teacher at Stanford University, Solmaz Sharif crafted poems out of sterile military language for her debut book of poems, Look. Interspersing phrases from the U.S. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms throughout her poems, she comments on how military language causes violence to human lives and to language itself. She said: “It matters what you call a thing.”
Sharif begins her poems with the Iran-Iraq War, which killed one million people, including her uncle. He serves as her muse, and she elegizes him in a poem. She also juxtaposes language against reality during war and conflict, and reveals the seductive nature of war. In “Summer Reads,” a writer in World Literature Today, May 1, 2016, said: “I am drawn to the book because of these thoughts on language and because of her gathering of fragmented wartime narratives.”
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Literature.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors or poets? Tell us in the comments.