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Research paper topics on English literature

The importance of English literature is known to all of us; writing a research paper on English literature requires significant effort to research about various aspects of the language and considerable amount of time has to be spent on reading. Writing about English literature gives you many options and topics to choose from, but choosing topics that draw your attention and interest you will help you write an effective research paper. Below are few topic ideas on English literature:

Victorian Literature

Victorian period of literature evolved soon after the romantic period (a period in which poetry in English was the dominant genre) and it is in the Victorian period that the long prose narratives or the novels gained more importance. Charles Dickens was one of the most prominent writers of the early Victorian period and his first novel was 'The Pickwick Papers' which was published in 1836. Charles Dickens has contributed largely to this period and the genre and his last novel was 'Our Mutual Friend'. Other notable novels by Dickens include 'A Christmas Carol', 'A tale of two cities', 'Great Expectations' etc. William Thackeray's popular novel 'Vanity Fair' was also considered significant work. There are many other novelists in this period who have contributed to the genre in a great way by developing new narrative techniques, like the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, Elizabeth Gaskell etc. Though novels were the most important genres of this period, the other forms of writing like poetry, drama, children literature, supernatural writing etc. were also significant in the Victorian period. You can write about how old gothic tales can be called examples of the fantastic fiction genre of the literature. You can also talk about the writing styles of these novelists were similar. Use more examples to illustrate the Victorian style of novels.

Shakespeare's contribution to English literature

Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest writers of the English language and has contributed largely to the literature. Shakespeare has played a vital role in the transformation of the theatre in Europe. His style of characterization, plot and the language has taken the genre drama to a different level. His works in the field of drama, like Macbeth, King Lear, and Hamlet are the most admired plays till date. His plays were always close to the human nature and his characters are detailed perfectly to show the emotions and thereby connect to the audience to create a significant impact. 'Romeo and Juliet' by Shakespeare has given way to the romantic tragedy genre. Many noted novelists from Elizabeth period and the Victorian period were largely influenced by the works of Shakespeare. His contribution to prose, drama and poetry has largely influenced the American and European literature and also modernized and standardized the English language to an extent. You can provide more detailed analysis of the writing styles of Shakespeare in different genres. You can also discuss his characterization styles by selecting to write about a specific character. Alternatively, you can choose any of his works and write a research paper on it.

Indian writings in English

Indian writers and authors of Indian origin have contributed in a significant way to the English literature. Indian writing in English is about a century and half old but has seen many notable writers who have grown popular over the period. In the early stages, writers like, Dhan Gopal Mukherjee, Nirad.C. Chaudhari, R.K.Narayan, M.R.Anand etc, gained recognition for their contribution to the English literature. R.K.Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand wrote novels which were set in the rural areas of India. In the later years, writers like Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth have become popular for their contribution to the language. Works of great authors and poets like Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda have been translated into English which also had an impact on the English literature in India. Salman Rushdie's new trend of writing seen in his award winning novel, 'The Midnight's Children' is very much appreciated across the world. You can discuss about any particular writer or author of your choice and further discuss how he/she has contributed to the English literature in a different way than the others. You can also talk about how the vocabulary by the Indian writers which has the influence of the native Indian languages has been accepted to a certain extent by the rest of the world. You can also detail on how the Indian traditions and customs were portrayed by the writers to the readers worldwide making them gain more insight about India and its literary talents.

Imagist Movement

Imagist movement is described as the most influential one in the English poetry in the early 20th century. The Imagist movement supported sharp and clear language. During the time of the movement, poetry by poets like Tennyson and Longfellow was valued. It is also said that this movement has modernized English poetry to a significant extent. The two famous poems by T.E.Hulme, 'A City Sunset' and 'Autumn' published in 1909, mark the origin of the Imagism. Ezra Pound an American poet later joined and led the Imagist movement and also published an anthology named Des Imagistes which was a collection of 37 poems by Hilda Doolittle, Aldington and Ezra Pound. Imagists wanted the poem to be a direct treatment of the 'thing', elimination of any word that is not contributing to the poem, and compose the poem as a musical phrase. You can research more into the works of H.D and Pound to detail how they contributed to the Imagist movement and also discuss the post Imagist movement effects on English literature. You can also write about how the various other anthologies published by Pound with the help of other imagists influenced the poets of that time.

Below are few more topics that you might want to explore:

  • History of English literature
  • Ideological differences between Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell
  • Influence of novels on sociological and political issues
  • American Literature
  • Contribution to English literature by Women writers

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