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  • Students delineate and evaluate the argument that Thomas Paine makes in Common Sense. They assess the reasoning present in his analysis, including the premises and purposes of his essay. [RI.11–12.8]
  • Students analyze Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, identifying its purpose and evaluating rhetorical features such as the listing of grievances. Students compare and contrast the themes and argument found there to those of other U.S. documents of historical and literary significance, such as the Olive Branch Petition. [RI.11–12.9]
  • Students provide an objective summary of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden wherein they analyze how he articulates the central ideas of living simply and being self-reliant and how those ideas interact and build on one another (e.g., “According to Thoreau, how specifically does moving toward complexity in one’s life undermine self-reliance?”) [RI.11–12.2]
  • Students analyze how the key term success is interpreted, used, and refined over the course of G. K. Chesterton’s essay “The Fallacy of Success.” [RI.11–12.4]
  • Students determine Richard Hofstadter’s purpose and point of view in his “Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth,” analyzing how both Hofstadter’s style and content contribute to the eloquent and powerful contrast he draws between the younger, ambitious Lincoln and the sober, more reflective man of the presidential years. [RI.11–12.6]

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  • Historical context: the work's place in history, how it was received
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