Summer Reading Assignment

Summer Project




In The Puritan Dilemma, historian Edmund Morgan argues that one challenge for Puritans was maintaining the delicate balance between individual freedoms - the need to be true to oneself and God – and the constraints of authority – living within a larger society and abiding by its rules. Julia Vitullo-Martin (a journalist and critic) suggests that this is the foundation of what would become a particularly American problem: “Our American pattern of constitutional liberty emerged from three centuries of conflict between the demands of authority and the desire for freedom, both as first defined by the Puritans.”


TASK: In a well-constructed essay, answer the following question:


How, if at all, are the tensions between individual freedoms (the need to be true to oneself and God) and the constraints of authority (living within a larger society and abiding by its rules) reconciled in the Puritan experience in the Massachusetts Bay Colony?






Reading tips:


The Puritan Dilemma is a challenging book. Although written for an introductory-level college course (i.e. AP level), there are parts which might be confusing.


  • Give yourself plenty of time to read BEFORE YOU BEGIN WRITING


  • Take notes as you read.


  • Don’t worry about keeping track of all the people –instead focus mainly on John Winthrop, Anne Hutchinson, and Roger Williams.


  • Don’t be intimidated by the 17th century spellings and language- it is more important to understand the big ideas of the book rather than the specific things Winthrop wrote, Williams wrote, etc.





*Project created by Mr. Todd Feldman, Teacher Canandaigua Academy

Grading Rubric



The 5 essay (90-100)

  • Contains a well-developed thesis that clearly addresses the nature of the question
  • Presents an effective analysis of the question.
  • Supports thesis with substantial and relevant information and text citations
  • Is clearly organized and well written


The 4 essay (80-89)

  • Contains a thesis which addresses the nature of the question (limited development)
  • Has limited analysis and exhibits limited understanding of complexity
  • Is mostly descriptive
  • Supports thesis with some information and text citations
  • Shows evidence of acceptable organization and writing; language errors do not interfere with comprehension
  • May contain factual errors that do not seriously detract from the quality or argument of the essay


The 3 essay (70-79):

  • Presents a limited, confused and/or poorly developed thesis
  • Contains little or no analysis and is mostly descriptive
  • Deals with one aspect of the question in a general way superficial way; simplistic explanation
  • Has minimal or irrelevant supporting information
  • Confusing organization and writing; organization and language errors interfere with comprehension
  • May contain major factual or interpretive errors


The 2 essay (65-69):

  • Contains no thesis, or a thesis which does not address the question
  • Exhibits inadequate or inaccurate understanding of the question (analysis is absent)
  • Contains no supporting information, or only irrelevant information
  • Is so poorly organized or written that it inhibits understanding
  • May simply paraphrase or restate the question
  • Contains numerous errors, both major and minor


The 1 essay (0):

  • Essay is not written






Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop. New York: Longman, 1999.





  • Must be a minimum of 4 pages
  • Must be typed (12 pt., Times New Roman font), double-spaced
  • Must cite text references with page numbers (in parenthetical form, MLA style)
  • Thesis must be supported with ample evidence from the text
  • Note: The project should take no longer than approximately 15 hours to complete, including reading and writing time.





How much is the project worth?

  • The project is worth the equivalent of ONE test grade for the first quarter.


What if I do not do the project? May I still take A.P./SUNY US History?

  • The instructor and administration will review your progress and determine if you should continue in the course. If you have sought help but could not receive it, you will be allowed to remain in the class and finish the project in September.


How should I submit the essay?

  • Essays must be submitted on the first day of the school year in class.


What if I have questions over the summer?

  • You may contact Mr. Connors at Please allow a few days for a reply, since I do not check my email as frequently during the summer.


How will my essay be graded?

  • See the attached grading rubric for specific instructions on grading and expectations.


What if I plagiarize?

  • Plagiarism is unethical as well as a criminal offense. Plagiarism will result in a grade of zero, and may result in disciplinary consequences as well.