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Essay Instructions: Literary Analysis Essay
Instructions: Literary Analysis
Instructions for the Literary Analysis Essay (English 1302 Online)
Literary Analysis
In this essay you should combine your practice responding and analyzing short stories(Short Stories will be selected in the attached file) with support derived from research. So far, in the discussion boards, we have practiced primarily formal analysis. Now I want you to practice “joining the conversation.” In this essay you will write a literary analysis that incorporates the ideas of others. The trick is to accurately present ideas and interpretations gathered from your research while adding to the conversation by presenting your own ideas and analysis.
You will be evaluated, in part, on how well you use external sources. I want to see that you can quote, paraphrase and summarize without plagiarizing. Remember, any unique idea must be credited, even if you put it in your own words.
Choose one of the approaches explained in the “Approaches to Literary Analysis” located at the bottom of this document. Each approach will require research, and that research should provide the context in which you present your own ideas and support your thesis. Be sure to properly document your research. Review the links in the “Writing about Literature” tab as these will help guide you.
While I am asking you to conduct outside research, do not lose sight of the primary text to which you are responding—the story! Your research should support your interpretations of the story. Be sure that your thesis is relevant to the story and that you quote generously from the story.
Purpose: critical analysis, writing from sources
Length: 3-4 pages, approx 900-1200 words
Documentation: Minimum of 4 sources required. One source will be the story you are writing about. You will then need at least 3 secondary sources. All of them should be documented in MLA format. (Note: review the material in “finding and evaluating sources” to help you choose relevant and trustworthy sources.)
Choose from the short stories located in the folder accompanying these instructions.
Below are some examples. I do not require you to choose one of these topics. They are just here to give you an idea of the type of approaches that will work for this essay.
1. Philosophical analysis: How do the stories by Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus reflect the philosophy of existentialism?
2. Socio/cultural analysis: What opinion about marriage and gender roles does Hemingway advance in “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”?
3. Historical analysis: What social dilemmas faced by African Americans in the 1960s might have inspired Toni Cade Bambara to write “The Lesson”?
4. Biographical analysis: What events in Salman Rushdie’s life might have influenced the events in “At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers”?
5. Psychological analysis: How is John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” a metaphor for the psychology of addiction?
Approaches to Literary analysis
Formal analysis-This type of analysis focuses on the formal elements of the work (language, symbolism, plot, character, setting) in an effort to explain how the story functions. It is concerned with the parts of the text and how those parts fit together to create meaning. Outside information such as the author’s background and historical events are generally not referenced in formalist criticism. A formal analysis conceives of the literary work as a self-contained experience.
If you choose this approach you will need to research scholarly interpretations of your selected story and include those as part of the conversation.
Historical analysis- This type of analysis uses historical context to understand the work. Many 20 th century stories can be best understood within the framework of major events: Industrialization, The Holocaust, WWII, The Great Depression, The Civil Rights Movement, feminism, etc . A historical analysis will “base interpretations on the interplay between the text and historical contexts.”
“a piece of literature is shaped by the time period in which it was written and thus must be examined and interpreted in the context of that time period. This theory attempts to tie the characters, events and language in a piece of literature to events from the time period in which it was written. ”
If you choose this approach for your literary analysis, you should be well aware of the major events of the time period.
Biographical analysis-This type of analysis uses the author’s life as a starting point for interpreting the story. The belief is that it is necessary to know about the author and the political, economical, and sociological context of his times in order to truly understand his works. How do the themes present in the story reflect the concerns and experiences of the author? In this approach there may be considerable overlap with historical analysis. That’s ok-they are not mutually exclusive.
Sociological analysis (cultural criticism)-This type
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1. “The Waltz” by Dorothy Parker
Attached Files:
Parker, Dorothy. “The Waltz.” The Viking Portable Library, 1944.
2. The Bound Man
Attached Files:
Aichinger, Ilse. “The Bound Man.” Continental Short Stories. Edward Mitchell and Rainer Schulte, eds. W W Norton & Co Inc (Np) 1969. Print.
3. The Wall
Attached Files:
Sartre, Jean-Paul. “The Wall.” The Wall and Other Short Stories. New Directions, 1969. Print.
“The Swimmer” by John Cheever
4. “The Swimmer” by John Cheever
Attached Files:
Cheever, John. “The Swimmer.” The Stories of John Cheever. Vintage, Reprint Edition, 2000. Print.
5. A Perfect day for a Bananafish
Salinger, J.D. “A Perfect Day for a Bananafish.” Nine Stories. Little, Brown and Company, 1991. Print.
6. The Birthmark
Attached Files:
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark.” Nathaniel Hawthorne: Selected Tales and Sketches. New York: Penguin, 1987. Print.

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