As a college librarian there are several topics I get asked so often that I’m a walking annotated bibliography on them: I can tell you what books we have, what articles we have and what magazines, journals and or databases they appear in, best websites to go to, etc., because I’ve had so many other students doing identically the same report so damned many times. Most other college reference librarians and English professors are probably pretty much the same way.
This has me wondering: what do you suppose the single most commonly required writing assignment is in American colleges? I’m not referring to the general “introduce yourself” or the “tell us why you want to be a ____” some freshmen have to write but those on a particular individual topic that requires some library research.
Two I would guess would be on the short list:
A Rose For Emily- the exact thesis may vary, but that must be the single most assigned literary analysis paper in all of human history. I honestly believe that if you went back in time to the era of Gilgamesh when the Epic of Gilgamesh was still the only great story that had been written down and the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents of William Faulkner’s great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were still thousands of years off you’d still have had to write a paper on A Rose for Emily (at least an oral tale that involves a girl name Imm-a-Li who grows old with a dead guy in her hut) before you could get out of cuneiform school.
Legalization of Marijuana- probably is to persuasive papers what Rose/Emily is for literary analysis papers. (Worst are the students who think they’re being original and or edgy in choosing the pro- side of the topic.)
What else would be on a list of “Most Assigned (or at least most written about) Topics”?