Great literature is complex, but writing effective essays about it doesn't have to be. Through plenty of opportunities to practice and apply what you're learning, Digging into Literature teaches you the essential strategies for reading, analyzing, and writing about literary texts.
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Table of Contents
1. Why Join Critical Conversations about Literature?Discourse Communities as Parlors Why Join the Critical Conversation on Literature? "Texts" and Their "Authors" and "Critics" "Text" in Literary and Cultural Analysis Author vs. Literary Critic Let’s Get Started: Joining the Discourse Community of Literary Critics Review
2. What Is Literary Analysis?A Literary Analysis Makes Interpretive Claims A Literary Analysis Must Make Debatable Claims A Literary Analysis Supports Arguments with Textual Evidence A Literary Analysis Argues for a Thesis about the Text A Literary Analysis Explores the Complexity of the Text Complexity of Arguments vs Complexity of Expression Review Leslie Marmon Silko, "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" [story] PART II STRATEGIES FOR CLOSE READING
3. From Surface to DepthWhat is the Surface/Depth Strategy? Sylvia Plath, "Morning Song" [poem] Using Surface/Depth to Brainstorm Step 1: Get a Good Grasp of the Surface (Literal) Meaning Step 2: Dig Below the Surface Using Surface/Depth to Write Persuasively Using the Surface/Depth Linking Strategy Using the Surface/Depth Contrasting Strategy Plausible vs. Implausible Readings A Note on Persuasive Interpretations Review Now Practice on Your Own Louise Glück, "Gretel in Darkness" [poem]
4. PatternsUsing Patterns to Brainstorm Using the Patterns Strategy before Having Clear Surface/Depth Arguments in Mind Using the Patterns Strategy after Having Brainstormed Some Possible Surface/Depth Arguments Using Patterns to Write Persuasively Sample Essay Using Patterns and Surface/Depth Strategies Sample Essay: Sylvia Plath’s "Morning Song" and the Challenge of Motherly Identity Review Now Practice On Your Own Michael Ondaatje, "The Cinnamon Peeler" [poem] Sample Essay: "Smell Me": Eroticism in Michael Ondaatje’s "The Cinnamon Peeler" Sample Essay: Contradictory Desires in Michael Ondaatje’s "The Cinnamon Peeler"
5. Digging DeeperCharacter Descriptions Setting Perspective Comparisons Ironies Time and Sequence Titles and Epigraphs Specific Words Sound Breaks and Groupings Visual Appearance Review Now Practice on Your Own Rick Bass, "Antlers" [story]
6. OppositesOpposites vs. Irony Using Opposites to Brainstorm Using Opposites to Write Persuasively Review Now Practice on Your Own Alice Walker, "Everyday Use" [story] PART III STRATEGIES FOR GOING BEYOND THE TEXT
7. ContextCommon Types of Contextual Information Using Context to Brainstorm Finding Contextual Information Finding Contextual Information Using General Web Searches Finding Contextual Information Using Library Databases Finding Contextual Information Using the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Phillis Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America" [poem] Now Practice on Your Own William Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much with Us" [poem] Using Context to Write Persuasively Options for the Scope of the Context Strategy Sample Essay: Competing Parental Philosophies in Sylvia Plath’s "Morning Song" Sample Essay: Smelling Sri Lanka in Michael Ondaatje’s "The Cinnamon Peeler" Citing Contextual Information Review
8. Genre and FormGenre vs. Verse Form Making Arguments about Genre Using Genre to Brainstorm Using Unfamiliar Verse Genres: The Sonnet The Sonnet Defined Petrarchan and Shakespearean Sonnets Using Genre to Write Persuasively Learning More about Genres Review Now Practice on Your Own Molly Peacock, "Desire" [poem]
9. Social RelevanceUsing Social Relevance to Brainstorm Using Social Relevance to Write Persuasively Social Relevance and Other Strategies of Literary Analysis Criticism Changes Over Time Review
10. Theoretical LensTheoretical Lens vs. Context Applying a Theoretical Lens: Double-Consciousness and Langston Hughes Langston Hughes, "Theme for English B" [poem] Sample Synopsis: The Veil and Double-Consciousness in Du Bois’s "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" Using the Theoretical Lens Strategy to Brainstorm Step 1: Choose a Theoretical Lens Step 2: Work to Understand the Surface Meaning of Both Primary and Theoretical Texts Step 3: Re-read the Primary Text Using the Surface/Depth Strategy Step 4: Reflect on How the Primary Text Differs from the Theoretical Text Using a Theoretical Lens to Write Persuasively Sample Essay: Double-Consciousness in "Theme for English B" Additional Theoretical Texts Review Now Practice on Your Own
11. Joining the Critical ConversationRepeating the Conversation vs. Contributing Something New to the Conversation Moving Beyond "Because the Experts Say So" Entering the Discourse Community of Published Criticism Add New Evidence Add New Interpretations Disagree with Previous Interpretations Using the Critical Conversation to Brainstorm Finding Published Criticism Joining a Conversation When No One Has Written on a Text Using the Critical Conversation to Write Persuasively Remind Readers What Has Already Been Said about the Conversation You Are Joining Distinguish Your Views from Those of the Critics You Cite Support Your Views Review
12. Using All the Strategies on a Single WorkDavid Henry Hwang, As the Crow Flies [play] Now Practice on Your Own PART IV. CRAFTING YOUR ESSAY
13. Developing a Thesis and Organizing Your EssayUnderstanding the Role of the Thesis Statement Analyzing the Well-Organized Essay Sample Essay: Contradictory Desires in Michael Ondaatje’s "The Cinnamon Peeler" Developing a Thesis by Freewriting and Reverse Outlining Sample Freewrite: "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" Developing a Thesis with an Outlining-First Strategy Moving Between Drafting, Organizing, and Discovering Review Sample Essay: Hunter and Hunted: The Mixture of Animal and Human in "Antlers"
14. Presenting Textual Evidence EffectivelyThe Quotation Sandwich Quoting vs. Paraphrasing Mechanics of Quoting Documenting Quotations and Paraphrases Review
15. Revision and Peer Review
Global vs. Local Revision
How to Revise Globally
Revision Technique 1: Outline or Reverse Outline
Revision Technique 2: One-Paragraph Summary
Revision Technique 3: Paragraph Analysis
Receiving Feedback: Peer Review and the Critical Conversation