When writing an American essay the writer prepares a short summary of what has already been written on a specific subject. Another name for this type of essay is a literary or literature review. It is used to describe a particular aspect of a specific field of study or topic of interest. Simply said, it is an overview of a written work, who wrote it and what the main thesis was about. Quite often writers have to retrieve specific information from a database in order to find support for the essay and make a thorough critical analysis of the subject. The essay might lean toward a descriptive analysis of the American literature or it might compare and contrast different viewpoints presented. You don’t need to make a list of these. Just point them out in order to draw forth the themes represented by the piece. If different ideas or people are being compared, listing them as a compare and contrast will fail to bring out relationships between each viewpoint.