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Literary Analysis

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					Literary Analysis

Using Textual Evidence
 & Secondary Sources
 Criticism: “a clever analysis of a thing or
  idea or event and presentation of an un-
  obtrusive argument about such a subject”
  John Dewey
 Thinking begins in flux in “the peculiar
  combination of the understood and the
  misunderstood” - Dewey
               What is Analysis
   To break into component parts
   In literature to its basic elements: plot, ch,
    setting, theme, symbols, irony, metaphors
   Through analysis you make meaning, i.e. claim
    to know what it means.
   Analysis is focused on one or two elements
   In poetry it is structure, imagery, metaphors and
    of course semantics (i.e. the words used)
       Using textual evidence
 A textual analysis must include textual
  evidence
 Must introduce quotations with
  transitions ( do not just toss a quote in)
 Cite poetry by line numbers
 If you quote it discuss it
                   Example
   In William Blake’s “The Tyger,” creation
    itself, not a hypothetical creator, awes the
    speaker. The speaker asks, “What
    immortal hand or eye/Dare frame thy
    fearful symmetry?” (3-4).
        Quotation Continued
 Cite by line number
 Use slash “/” to indicate line break
 Cite line numbers within parenthesis ()
 Put a period outside the parenthesis
 Discuss quotes
        Writing About Poetry
 Focus on the text; discuss how the text
  operates or functions
 Stay away from broad, generalized
  language
 Do not psychoanalyze the poet or speaker
 Remember the poem is a crafted
        Writing About Poetry
 Consider form: What is it?
 Consider rhetoric: How does the speaker
  communicate?
 Consider syntax: How does the speaker
  use sentences ( subjects, verbs, etc)
 Consider vocabulary: What words does the
  speaker use?
         Writing About Poetry
 Refer to speaker, not the poet ( Poets make
  things up)
 Use the present tense when writing about
  literature: The speaker in “Skylark” addresses a
  bird, not addressed a bird.
 As in all forms of writing use active verbs:
  dramatizes, presents, posits, suggests,
  underscores, points to, illustrates. Asserts,
  enacts, juxtaposes, stresses, enables, connects,
  contrasts
         Secondary Sources
 Introduce sources
 Secondary sources support your thesis,
  not supplant it
 Must have a thesis before you can use
  secondary sources
           Common Errors
 Be sure the reader knows who is speaking
  about whom
 Avoid back to back quotations
 Be certain to cite sources correctly
 Do not make the source become your
  argument or claim
 Avoid beginning or ending a paragraph
  with a quote
Questions to Ask About Literature
 Questions About Technique
 Plot. What central conflict drives the plot?
  Are they internal (i.e. within characters) or
  external (i.e. between chs or a ch and a
  force) How are the conflicts resolved.
  Why are events revealed in a particular
  order
Questions about Technique cont'd
 Setting: Does the time and place create an
  atmosphere, give an insight into character,
  suggest symbolic meanings or hint at the theme
  of the work?
 Ch: What seems to motivate the central chs?
  Do any chs change significantly? If so what – if
  anything- have they learned from their
  experiences? Do sharp contrasts between chs
  highlight imp themes?
 Point of view: Does the pt of view – the
  perspective from which the story is
  narrated or the poem is spoken – affect
  our understanding of the events?
 -Does the narration reveal the character of
  the speaker, or does the speaker merely
  observe others
 Is the narrator innocent, naïve, deceitful?
                  Theme
 Theme is central insight about people or
  truth about life
 Theme could also be a questioning of
  some aspect of culture that is presumed
  to be true, universal and applicable to all –
  need to know historical background if
  literature is not contemporary
 How do details in work illuminate theme
                   Language
 Does the language ( formal, informal, standard,
  dialectic, prosaic, poetic, passionate) reveal the
  character of the speakers?
 How do metaphors, similes, sensory images
  contribute to the work?
 How do recurring images enrich and hint at the
  meaning of the work ?
 How do sentence rhythms sounds underscore
  the meaning
    Questions about social context
 Historical context; Class; Race and Culture;
  Gender: Archetypes
 Historical Context: What does the work reveal
  about the time and place in which it was written.
  Does the work appear to promote or undermine
  a philosophy that was popular in its time, such
  as social Darwinism in the mid 19th cent or the
  women’s movement in the mid 20the cent?
   Class: How does membership in a social class affect the
    way chs view- or are viewed by – others?. What do
    economic struggles reveal about power relationships in
    the society being depicted
   Race and culture: Are any chs portrayed as being caught
    between cultures: between the culture at home and
    work or school, for example, or between a traditional
    and an emerging culture? Are any chs engaged in a
    conflict with society because of their race or ethnic
    background? To what extent does the work celebrate a
    specific culture and its traditions
   Gender: Are any chs’ choices restricted
    because of gender? What are the power
    relationships between the sexes, and do
    these change during the course of the
    work. Do nay chs resist the gender roles
    society has assigned to them? Do other
    chs choose to confirm to those roles?
   Archetypes: Does a ch, image, or plot fit
    a pattern – or archetype – that has been
    repeated in stories throughout history and
    across cultures? ( every culture has
    stories about heroes, quests, redemption,
    revenge) How does the archetypal ch,
    image, plot line correspond to or differ
    from others like it?
    Citation and documentation
 MLA, APA, Chicago Manual
 MLA style (Modern Language Association)
  used in Humanities
 Last name and pg # in parenthesis in the
  text of your essay followed by a period
 If you quote form the primary text put
  title of the literary piece and page number
  within the parenthesis
            Documentation
 Works Cited Page gives complete
  information of what was briefly indicated
  in the text of your essay through signal
  phrasing and parenthetical citation
 list in alphabetical order by author names
  of all sources used in the essay
 Must refer to MLA style manual when
  creating a Works cited page
  Direct quotes and paraphrased or
 summarized quotes and information
 No more than 3-4 lines of direct quotes can be
  used in your essay. If you use more than 4 lines
  of direct quotes you must left indent the margin
  of the quoted material so that it appears as a
  block.
 Use quotation marks around material borrowed
  word for word.
 No quotation marks are used in block quote but
  you must introduce the block quote using
  SIGNAL PHRASE THAT BEGINS WITH THE
  AUTHOR’S FULL NAME.
                When to quote
   Quote when language is especially vivid and
    expressive
   When it is important for debaters of an issue
    explain their positions in their own words
   When language of a sources the topic of your
    discussion ( analysis, interpretation)
   When exact wording is needed for technical
    accuracy
   When words of an important authority lend
    weight to an argument
    Paraphrase, summarize all other
                 times
   IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER YOU
    USE A BORROWED SOURCES’ EXACT
    WORDS OR PUT THE INFO IN YOUR
    OWN WORDS YOU ABSOLUTLEY
    MUST ACKNOWLEDGE THE SORUCE
    BREIFLY IN YOUR TEXT AND
    COMPLETELY IN YOUR WORKS
    CITED PAGE
 Elements of a Works Cited Entry
 Author name
 Tile
 Source title
 Publication information
 Pg numbers
           In-text citations
 MLA uses parenthesis
 Put author’s name and if author name is
  unavailable use title

				
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