Reading Literature
“Literature is the art of writing
something that will be read twice;
journalism what will be grasped at
once.”
-Cyril Conn...
ACTIVE Reading
• WRITE in your book! Take notes, underline,
highlight, fold over the edges! Use post-it notes
and sticky t...
Subtext

•Subtext:
The ideas or themes that are
implied by a work of
literature, rather than plainly
stated in the text.
• While it is important to understand what the writer IS
saying, it is also important to see what the writer
implies, or l...
• Read out loud!
• Listen to a reader while reading along
silently.
• Pause, take notes, re-read.
• Look up unfamiliar wor...
Motifs
• Look for ideas or things that are emphasized or repeated.
• Repeated elements are called motifs.
• A motif can be...
Themes
• Themes are the main ideas of a text; an important aspect of a
work’s subtext.
• While motifs are more often tangi...
Reading Poetry
• Enjambment:
• The end of a line is not necessarily the end of a sentence.
• So times were pleasant for th...
• …………………….. Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here ...
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Reading literature

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Reading literature

  1. 1. Reading Literature
  2. 2. “Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.” -Cyril Connolly Reading literature involves looking beyond the surface—the basic plot—to the ideas lying underneath. The main ideas in literature, unlike journalism, are hidden—or, at least, less obvious.
  3. 3. ACTIVE Reading • WRITE in your book! Take notes, underline, highlight, fold over the edges! Use post-it notes and sticky tabs! • • • • • • Questions Ideas Plot points New characters Character relationships Literary tropes: motifs, similes, metaphors, symbols, foreshadowing, alliteration, etc.
  4. 4. Subtext •Subtext: The ideas or themes that are implied by a work of literature, rather than plainly stated in the text.
  5. 5. • While it is important to understand what the writer IS saying, it is also important to see what the writer implies, or leaves unsaid: the subtext. • Seeing the subtext can be like solving a mystery; the reader, like a detective, must search for clues. • Just as a detective must carefully search a crime scene for clues, looking for even the smallest details— fingerprints, a strand of hair, an object missing or out of place—a reader must read carefully and notice the details. • Unlike a textbook that might be skimmed for information, you must read literature word-by-word, carefully looking at all the details.
  6. 6. • Read out loud! • Listen to a reader while reading along silently. • Pause, take notes, re-read. • Look up unfamiliar words or concepts. • Read the footnotes. • Use the glossary.
  7. 7. Motifs • Look for ideas or things that are emphasized or repeated. • Repeated elements are called motifs. • A motif can be a specific word, an object, an action, a color, or any other significant element that is repeated in the text. • Motifs are more often tangible things than abstract ideas. For example, in Beowulf the monsters are a primary motif: Beowulf battles a monster in each section of the poem. • Specific words and phrases can also be motifs. For example, variations of the phrase “put money in your purse” recur in the play Othello. • Many things in Paradise Lost are described as either light or dark; darkness and light are motifs in Paradise Lost.
  8. 8. Themes • Themes are the main ideas of a text; an important aspect of a work’s subtext. • While motifs are more often tangible things or words, themes are generally abstract ideas. • Motifs can often be a clue to the themes; for example, the battles with monsters in Beowulf point to a basic theme: heroism. • Monsters and battles are tangible, concrete things. • Heroism is an abstract idea.
  9. 9. Reading Poetry • Enjambment: • The end of a line is not necessarily the end of a sentence. • So times were pleasant for the people there until finally one, a fiend out of hell, began to work his evil in the world. (Beowulf ) • ………………………………..That song tonight Will not go from my mind; I have much to do But to go hang my head all at one side And sing it like poor Barbary. (Othello) Note that a capital letter does not necessarily indicate the beginning of a new sentence.
  10. 10. • …………………….. Here at least We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n. (Paradise Lost) Pay attention to the punctuation. A period (.) ends a sentence. A semicolon (;) works like a period except that it connects one complete sentence (independent clause) to another. A colon (:) often shows that the ideas after the colon are an illustration or example of the ideas before the colon.

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