look at how the work fits into the time period historically, or they look at how it was shaped by history and societal events, or they look at how they shape these events themselves.
So for this paper you could discuss in detail how a particular work or author fits into the time period and/or how this work or author helped to shape our American culture (since that is the point of the class as a whole). You might look, for example, at how Christopher Columbus’ writings reflect his attitude toward the New World and the Native Americans there, and how it reflected the larger attitude that Europeans overall had toward them as they learned about them. Or you might disucss the historical and social processes that shaped Columbus’ attitude toward them. What led him to be the way that he was and act the way that he did? How does his text give clues to that?
It should have MLA in-text citations and a works cited page listing your (at least) three sources. It also should be type-written, double spaced and within standard margins. And it should be between 5-7 pages in length.