A brief and very affordable guide to reading and writing about literature.
This ebook has been updated to provide you with the latest guidance on documenting sources in MLA style and follows the guidelines set forth in the MLA Handbook, 9th edition (April 2021).
Far less expensive than comparable guides, Reading and Writing about Literature: A Portable Guide is an ideal supplement for writing courses where literature anthologies and individual literary works that lack writing instruction are assigned. This brief guide introduces strategies for reading literature, explains the writing process and common writing assignments for literature courses, provides instruction in writing about fiction, poetry, and drama, and includes coverage of writing a research paper as well as sections on literary criticism and theory.
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Table of Contents
[* Indicates sections or material new to this edition]
Preface for Instructors
1. INTRODUCTION TO READING AND WRITING ABOUT LITERATURE
Why Read Literature?
Why Write about Literature?
What to Expect in a Literature Class
Literature and Enjoyment
2. THE ROLE OF GOOD READING
The Value of Rereading
The Myth of "Hidden Meaning"
*WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, The Second Coming (Annotated Poem)
Using Reference Materials
Questions for Active Reading: Fiction
Questions for Active Reading: Poetry
Questions for Active Reading: Drama
Asking Critical Questions of Literature
BEN JONSON, On My First Son (Annotated Poem)
Checklist for Good Reading
3. THE WRITING PROCESS
Choosing a Topic
*Developing an Argument
Gathering Support for Your Thesis
Organizing Your Paper
Drafting the Paper
Revising and Editing
Global Revision Checklist
Local Revision Checklist
Final Editing Checklist
Peer Editing and Workshops
Tips for Writing about Literature
Using Quotations Effectively
Quoting from Stories
Quoting from Poems
Quoting from Plays
Formatting Your Paper
4. COMMON WRITING ASSIGNMENTS
*ZORA NEALE HURSTON, Sweat
*STUDENT ESSAY: Taylor Plantan, “A Response to ‘Sweat’”
ROBERT HERRICK, Upon Julia's Clothes
STUDENT ESSAY: Jessica Barnes, "Poetry in Motion: Herrick's 'Upon Julia's Clothes'"
ROBERT BROWNING, My Last Duchess
STUDENT ESSAY: Adam Walker, “Possessed by the Need for
Possession: Browning's 'My Last Duchess'"
Comparison and Contrast
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, After Death
STUDENT ESSAY: Todd Bowen, "Speakers for the Dead: Narrators in 'My Last Duchess' and 'After Death'"
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Sonnet 73”
ROBERT HERRICK, To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time
STUDENT ESSAY EXAM: Midterm Essay
5. WRITING ABOUT STORIES
Elements of Fiction
Point of View
Stories for Analysis
CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN, The Yellow Wallpaper
KATE CHOPIN, The Story of an Hour (Annotated Story)
STUDENT ESSAY: An Essay that Compares and Contrasts: Melanie
Smith, "Good Husbands in Bad Marriages"
6. WRITING ABOUT POEMS
Elements of Poetry
Sound and Sense
Two Poems for Analysis
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Sonnet 116 (Annotated Poem)
T.S. ELIOT, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (Annotated Poem)
STUDENT ESSAY: An Explication: Patrick McCorkle, "Shakespeare Defines Love"
7. WRITING ABOUT PLAYS
Elements of Drama
Plot, Character, and Theme
How to Read a Play
Watching a Play
The Director’s Vision
SUSAN GLASPELL, Trifles
STUDENT ESSAY: An Analysis: Sarah Johnson, "Moral Ambiguity and Character Development in Trifles"
8. WRITING A LITERARY RESEARCH PAPER
Working with Sources
*Paraphrases and Summaries
Keeping Track of Your Sources
Writing the Paper
Refine Your Thesis
Organize Your Evidence
Start Your Draft
Edit and Proofread
*Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism
What to Document and What Not to Document
Documenting Sources: MLA Format
Preparing Your Works Cited List
*STUDENT ESSAY: Research Paper: Rachel McCarthy, “The Widening Gyres of Chaos in Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming’”
9. LITERARY CRITICISM AND LITERARY THEORY
Formalism and New Criticism
Feminist and Gender Criticism
Historical Criticism and New Historicism
Poststructuralism and Deconstruction
Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms
Index of Terms