Historical/ Biographical Analysis WORKSHOP WITH CAMMY SRAY & ALEXA WINIK
Hist./Bio. Analysis– What Is It? • Situating the Text: Using the context surrounding a text to create a “lens” to interpret that text. • Context—event in author’s life or historical event/trend that occurred around time of text • Context—not information that the text itself provides (though it may allude to) • Using the context to inform your reading of a text
Difference from New Critical? • New Critical: text interpret • In a NC analysis, you start and end with the text--no outside research/pulling from context. • Hist/Biographical: context lens text interpret • Pull from the context to shed light on your reading • Context supplements your understanding of the text
Historical Analysis • Set up your paper to analyze what historical event/trend the author had in mind that he/she viewed as significant • Intro: general tension and thesis • Body: • 1) prove that this historical event/trend actually occurred and was prevalent in author’s mind when he/she wrote text • 2) prove that the event/trend was significant to the author • *especially important if the author is addressing an era/event that did not occur around the same time author wrote text. • *use: autobiography, biography, newspapers, letters, correspondences, etc. • 3) Use devices to support thesis (Like a NC analysis, but apply/integrate the context) • Conclusion
Biographical Analysis • Explain the text as a way the author tried to deal with a personal issue. • Intro: general tension and thesis • Body: • 1) Background: prove an issue bothered author significantly at/near time he/she wrote text • *use: autobiography, biography, newspapers, letters, correspondences, etc. • 2.) Text: use devices to support thesis (like NC), but apply/integrate the context • Conclusion
Let’s situate… • Read “Reunion” • Look for prevalent literary devices (as you would for a NC analysis). • Use your background knowledge to shed light on how the devices function within the story • Develop some foundational themes
Thesis time! • Don’t forget tenets of thesis: • interpretive/argumentative • specific/precise • accurate • deep Include in your thesis how the author is commenting on A (the relevant element of the context) by using B (literary device) to say C (the message of the text)
Wrapping Up... • Texts exist in some framework of history • Know the framework! • Ask • 1) “What’s happening at this time?” • 2) “What is author saying about it?” • Hist./Biog. Criticism involves authorial intent more than any other criticism • Criticisms are distinct, but related
Wrapping Up... • Like any other criticism...ALWAYS go back to the text to prove your thesis! • Move from contexttext • context lens text interpret • This is not a historical research paper • Don’t backseat the textual interpretation!
Final Tips... • Remember: Writing style and grammar count. Hugely. • Write OUTLINES or POST-OUTLINES. • Write MULTIPLE rough drafts. • Be clear. Be fluent. • Use strong, precise verbs in active voice • Be specific as you discuss the historical context. • Be specific as you connect the historical context to the text itself. • Conclusion • Stress importance of the work in relation to historical event/issue
Remember… Literary texts are not created in a vacuum!!!
And … You’re not alone. The writing center is here! Hours: MWF 1-5 p.m.; T/TH 12:30-5 p.m. M-TH 7-11 p.m. (Yes, we’re open evenings!) Workshop Information Posted Online Here: http://www.cedarville.edu/Offices/Writing-Center/Workshop-Information.aspx