Literary AnalysisWriting TodayJohnson-Sheehan, PaineChapter 8 English 1301 G. Zermeño
What is a Literary Analysis? • Usually examines fictional or poetic texts, often using them as ways to understand humanity and culture (131). • Poses an interpretive question about a literary text then uses that question to explain the text, author, or historical context. • Your purpose is to provide your readers with new and interesting insights into a work. • It is a close examination.
Across Disciplines • History • Sociology • Studying the progressive era in America. Literary Text: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. • Sociology of poverty. Literary Text: A short story by Edwidge Danticat.
A Literary Analysis • Explains the meaning of a text. • Analyzes its structure and features • Examines through historical, cultural, social, biographical, and other contexts. • It helps readers understand what makes a literary work thought-provoking, revealing, or enjoyable. • Contributes to the larger scholarly conversation about the meaning and purpose of literature.
Remember you are not correcting or criticizing interpretations of a text, rather, you are leading your audience toward fresh insights and new angles.
Basic Organization • Introduction • Summary and analysis of first part of text. • Summary and analysis of second part of text. • Summary and analysis of third part of text. • Conclusion • Introduction • Targeted summary or description of the text. • Analysis: First Point • Analysis: Second Point • Analysis: Third Point • Conclusion
Introduction • Identify the literary work you are analyzing. • Provide its background • Introduce an interpretive question that will drive the analysis • provide an angle you will follow as you interpret the story for your readers.
Targeted summaries or descriptions of the text • Summarize or describe only on elements that play a key role in your interpretation • Events • Features • These are usually breif
Quoted Material • Use textual evidence to develop your interpretation and illustrate your point.
Support your interpretation • Support should be used as solid reasoning for your interpretation. • Offer insight into the interpretive question. • Can use outside sources to further support
Conclusion • Should be designed to help readers understand the big picture. • Describe the significance of the interpretation.
One Student’s Work • Read story on page 123
Inventing Your Literary Analysis’s Content • Find an interesting interpretive question about the work you are studying. • Read and research the text. • Look for signs and evidence that might offer insights that go beyond the obvious.
Read, Reread, Explore • Short story or novel- read at least twice • Poetry – read many, many times (silently and aloud) • Annotate the text highlighting anything that intrigues you or puzzles you. • Take note of the language and how the work makes you feel.
What’s Interesting? • Develop interesting questions focusing on the genre, plot, characters, or use of language. • This will lead you to your angle.
Explore the Genre • Fiction • Poetry • Drama • Literary nonfiction • Short stories, novellas, novels, detective novels, science fiction, romance, mysteries, horror, fantasy, historical fiction. • Limericks, sonnets, ballads, epic poems, haikus, ballads, villanelle, odes, sestinas, open verse. • Plays, closet dramas, comedies, tragedies, romances, musicals, operas. • Memoirs, profiles, biographies, histories, essays, nature writing, religion, politics.
Questions to ponder… • Why did the author choose this genre of literature and not another one? • Why a poem as opposed to a story, or a short story rather than an novel? • Does the author stray from the genre? Where? How? Why?
Explore the Plot • Identify the events as well as the significance of each event. • Introduction • Including the setting • What is the time and place of the story? • What is the broader setting? • Culture • Social sphere • Historic period • How does the setting become a symbol? • Rising action (or complication) • Climax (or turning point) • Falling action • Resolution
Characters • Who are they? • What kinds of people are they? • Why do they act as they do? • What are their values, beliefs, and desires? • How do they interact with each other, or their environment and setting? • What is the meaning behind their decisions and actions?
Research • The author • The historical setting • The science • Human behavior • Social interactions • Natural phenomena • Psychology • Sociology • Biology
Using quotes • You must explain how the quotation supports your point. Never leave your readers hanging with a quotation and no commentary. • Make sure to cite your sources in MLA format.
Talk about this #1 • Try this out #1