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Lit analysis

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    Lit analysis Lit analysis Presentation Transcript

    • A literary analysis is a paper that gives a deep and illuminating explanation of a literary work--it is a Critical Interpretation. We will learn how to formulate a deep thesis, organize a paper coherently, and use a number of different critical methods
    •  The thesis should state the basic point you want to communicate, oftentimes including your main elements of support It should be clear and understandable It should be deep, something that not everyone would think of It should be significant, something that the majority of people interested in your text would find helpful It should be new and original
    •  Start by reading the text closely Begin to do research while forming your own opinion about the text Craft a statement that summarizes your thoughts about the text and responds to the ideas of other critics—a working thesis Modify your working thesis as you continue to interact with your research and the text
    •  Don’t be afraid to modify your thesis even after you’ve begun writing the body of your paper—it’s better to change it than to have a bad one Spend the body of your paper arguing that your thesis provides an interpretation which is clearly supported by the text. Do not deviate from discussion related to your thesis
    •  Begin by finding common threads among the items supporting your thesis—oftentimes, writing an outline helps this process along Begin writing with the body, making sure that each paragraph centers on one specific idea Make sure that the topic sentence of each paragraph demonstrates a link between the content of the paragraph and your thesis statement
    •  Research the topics most closely related to your thesis and/or your theory Compile notes of pertinent quotes and paraphrases Write either an annotated bibliography or a review of the literature In a review of the literature, summarize only the criticism that has a significant bearing on your treatment of the text
    •  Begin your argument by Entering the Conversation, i.e., stating the ways in which your argument is different from or adds to the insights of other critics Use the criticism and research of others to support minor points in your paper The main thrust of your paper should be your own—if someone else has said the same thing before, you need to find a new thesis
    • A method of interpretation (theory) is simply a lens through which you may view a text Different texts will lend themselves more or less easily to different methods of interpretation Do not try to force a method upon a text. Remember, all methods ultimately end in the text—you must have sufficient evidence from the text to justify your argument regardless of your theory or method of interpretation
    •  New Critics assume that all texts (or the best texts) are unified artifacts that point to universal themes without recourse to elements outside of the texts themselves A universal theme is one that speaks to the deeper realities of human life, thought, and experience A New Critical thesis should account for as many parts of the text as possible, including such things as form and content
    •  To develop a New Critical thesis, begin by finding the central questions and tensions that the text seems to ask but does not explicitly answer Continue the process by finding different strands of thought in the text that, together, seem to answer the questions and resolve the tensions— it is here that one explores imagery, diction, etc. Organize your support logically around a thesis that reveals the text’s unifying theme
    • Examples
    •  The Scarlet Letter The Great Gatsby Catcher in the Rye Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince A Rose for Emily The Lord of the Rings Chronicles of Narnia
    •  All authors write in a historical and biographical context The goal of a historical or biographical criticism is understanding why the author wrote what he or she wrote This includes pointing out how biographical circumstances contributed to the creation of parts of the text—biographical readings often resemble non- theoretical psychological readings Historical readings reveal how particular texts address certain historical issues, especially issues about which the author was passionate
    •  Allauthors write as a part of a cultural context in which they participate A Cultural-critical thesis should illuminate why and how a specific factor (or factors) of culture contributed to the creation of specific facets of the text The two most important elements of this approach are: • Situating the text in its historical and cultural context • Explaining how that context allows us to see the text in a new way
    •  Texts exist as commentary on a cultural framework that directly relates and affects notions of gender Patriarchy is one ideology that many cultures have used to create social distinctions and hierarchies Patriarchy is the privileging of the male perspective as the only valid perspective, effectively limiting or abolishing women’s ability to define themselves as women or people Power structures in patriarchal societies reinforce this ideology through the institutionalized marginalizing of women
    •  Literature, as a cultural product, can either reinforce or resist the patriarchal influences in society The goal of the feminist critic is to reveal ways in which particular texts interact with issues of gender and patriarchy A feminist thesis should reflect a deep knowledge of feminist theory along with a deep understanding of how the text in question relates to the operation of patriarchal ideology and institutions in culture
    •  Remember to strive for depth and significance Remember to center your paper on your thesis Remember to organize your paragraphs around a central theme (your thesis)