Writing about Lit: a Primer
         Dr. Gerald Lucas
Present Tense

• Write about literature in the present
  tense
Present Tense

• Write about literature in the present
  tense
 • Odysseus pokes out the cyclops’ eye.
Present Tense

• Write about literature in the present
  tense
 • Odysseus pokes out the cyclops’ eye.
 • Not: Odysseus po...
Research

• Begin with
Research

• Begin with
 • Dictionaries
Research

• Begin with
 • Dictionaries
 • Encyclopedias
Research

• Begin with
 • Dictionaries
 • Encyclopedias
 • Google
Research

• Begin with
 • Dictionaries
 • Encyclopedias
 • Google
 • Yahoo
Cite

• Cite only solid sources, like
Cite

• Cite only solid sources, like
 • Professional web sites
Cite

• Cite only solid sources, like
 • Professional web sites
 • Journal articles (some online)
Cite

• Cite only solid sources, like
 • Professional web sites
 • Journal articles (some online)
 • Books
Titles
• Titles of short works are in quotation
  marks
Titles
• Titles of short works are in quotation
  marks
 • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress”
Titles
• Titles of short works are in quotation
  marks
 • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress”
 • Story: “Babylon Revisited”
Titles
• Titles of short works are in quotation
  marks
 • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress”
 • Story: “Babylon Revisited”
 • So...
Titles
• Titles of short works are in quotation
  marks
 • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress”
 • Story: “Babylon Revisited”
 • So...
Titles

• Long works are italicized
Titles

• Long works are italicized
 • Novel: Fight Club
Titles

• Long works are italicized
 • Novel: Fight Club
 • Film: Star Wars
Titles

• Long works are italicized
 • Novel: Fight Club
 • Film: Star Wars
 • TV Series: Star Trek
Titles

• Long works are italicized
 • Novel: Fight Club
 • Film: Star Wars
 • TV Series: Star Trek
 • Play: Hamlet
If unsure about how to
present a title: look it up!
Vocabulary

• Use literary vocabulary
Vocabulary

• Use literary vocabulary
 • “novel,” not “book”
Vocabulary

• Use literary vocabulary
 • “novel,” not “book”
 • “protagonist,” not “main character”
Vocabulary

• Use literary vocabulary
 • “novel,” not “book”
 • “protagonist,” not “main character”
 • “antagonist,” not “...
Vocabulary

• Use literary vocabulary
 • “novel,” not “book”
 • “protagonist,” not “main character”
 • “antagonist,” not “...
When arguing a point: use
specific textual evidence.
Quote Correctly
• Incorporate the quotation and citation
Quote Correctly
• Incorporate the quotation and citation
 • The writer shares a connection: “the
   axolotls spoke to me” ...
Quote Correctly
• Incorporate the quotation and citation
 • The writer shares a connection: “the
   axolotls spoke to me” ...
Quote Correctly
• Incorporate the quotation and citation
 • The writer shares a connection: “the
   axolotls spoke to me” ...
When a quotation is long, it
 should be block quoted.
Use Proper MLA

• Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176)
Use Proper MLA

• Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176)
• Must have:
Use Proper MLA

• Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176)
• Must have:
 • In-text parenthetical citation
Use Proper MLA

• Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176)
• Must have:
 • In-text parenthetical citation
 • Works cited entry
In-Text
   Citations
• Appear at the end of
  the sentence
In-Text
   Citations
• Appear at the end of
  the sentence
• List the author’s last
  name and page # in
  parentheses
Works Cited
  Page
• Lists any work that you
  cite
Works Cited
  Page
• Lists any work that you
  cite
• Uses MLA style in
  English courses unless
  told otherwise
Works Cited
  Page
• Lists any work that you
  cite
• Uses MLA style in
  English courses unless
  told otherwise
• Must f...
MLA is tricky only if you
   don’t look it up!
Writing about Literature
• Focus
Writing about Literature
• Focus
 • Do not try to write it all
Writing about Literature
• Focus
 • Do not try to write it all
 • Illustrate a theme or motif
Writing about Literature
• Focus
 • Do not try to write it all
 • Illustrate a theme or motif
 • Analyze a character
Writing about Literature
• Focus
 • Do not try to write it all
 • Illustrate a theme or motif
 • Analyze a character
 • Di...
Writing about Literature
• Focus
 • Do not try to write it all
 • Illustrate a theme or motif
 • Analyze a character
 • Di...
Have a thesis!
Organize

• Focus on a major issue
Organize

• Focus on a major issue
• Follow a logical order
Organize

• Focus on a major issue
• Follow a logical order
• Compare or contrast characters, works,
  etc.
Organize

• Focus on a major issue
• Follow a logical order
• Compare or contrast characters, works,
  etc.
• Work toward ...
Write Critically

• Use citations
Write Critically

• Use citations
• Focus on response
Write Critically

• Use citations
• Focus on response
• Remember art
Write Critically

• Use citations
• Focus on response
• Remember art
• Consider style and rhetoric
Write Critically

• Use citations
• Focus on response
• Remember art
• Consider style and rhetoric
• Don’t ape critics or ...
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Writing About Lit: a Primer

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A brief lecture that introduces the basics we need to know when writing about literary texts. Recorded live in my World Literature 2 class, 1/9/08.

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Writing About Lit: a Primer

  1. 1. Writing about Lit: a Primer Dr. Gerald Lucas
  2. 2. Present Tense • Write about literature in the present tense
  3. 3. Present Tense • Write about literature in the present tense • Odysseus pokes out the cyclops’ eye.
  4. 4. Present Tense • Write about literature in the present tense • Odysseus pokes out the cyclops’ eye. • Not: Odysseus poked out the cyclops’ eye.
  5. 5. Research • Begin with
  6. 6. Research • Begin with • Dictionaries
  7. 7. Research • Begin with • Dictionaries • Encyclopedias
  8. 8. Research • Begin with • Dictionaries • Encyclopedias • Google
  9. 9. Research • Begin with • Dictionaries • Encyclopedias • Google • Yahoo
  10. 10. Cite • Cite only solid sources, like
  11. 11. Cite • Cite only solid sources, like • Professional web sites
  12. 12. Cite • Cite only solid sources, like • Professional web sites • Journal articles (some online)
  13. 13. Cite • Cite only solid sources, like • Professional web sites • Journal articles (some online) • Books
  14. 14. Titles • Titles of short works are in quotation marks
  15. 15. Titles • Titles of short works are in quotation marks • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress”
  16. 16. Titles • Titles of short works are in quotation marks • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress” • Story: “Babylon Revisited”
  17. 17. Titles • Titles of short works are in quotation marks • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress” • Story: “Babylon Revisited” • Song: “Ants Marching”
  18. 18. Titles • Titles of short works are in quotation marks • Poem: “To His Coy Mistress” • Story: “Babylon Revisited” • Song: “Ants Marching” • Episode of TV Series: “Doomsday”
  19. 19. Titles • Long works are italicized
  20. 20. Titles • Long works are italicized • Novel: Fight Club
  21. 21. Titles • Long works are italicized • Novel: Fight Club • Film: Star Wars
  22. 22. Titles • Long works are italicized • Novel: Fight Club • Film: Star Wars • TV Series: Star Trek
  23. 23. Titles • Long works are italicized • Novel: Fight Club • Film: Star Wars • TV Series: Star Trek • Play: Hamlet
  24. 24. If unsure about how to present a title: look it up!
  25. 25. Vocabulary • Use literary vocabulary
  26. 26. Vocabulary • Use literary vocabulary • “novel,” not “book”
  27. 27. Vocabulary • Use literary vocabulary • “novel,” not “book” • “protagonist,” not “main character”
  28. 28. Vocabulary • Use literary vocabulary • “novel,” not “book” • “protagonist,” not “main character” • “antagonist,” not “bad guy”
  29. 29. Vocabulary • Use literary vocabulary • “novel,” not “book” • “protagonist,” not “main character” • “antagonist,” not “bad guy” • “film,” not “movie”
  30. 30. When arguing a point: use specific textual evidence.
  31. 31. Quote Correctly • Incorporate the quotation and citation
  32. 32. Quote Correctly • Incorporate the quotation and citation • The writer shares a connection: “the axolotls spoke to me” (398).
  33. 33. Quote Correctly • Incorporate the quotation and citation • The writer shares a connection: “the axolotls spoke to me” (398). • The writer shares a connection. “The axolotls spoke to me” (398).
  34. 34. Quote Correctly • Incorporate the quotation and citation • The writer shares a connection: “the axolotls spoke to me” (398). • The writer shares a connection. “The axolotls spoke to me” (398). • Use punctuation correctly with quotation marks (FAQs 78)
  35. 35. When a quotation is long, it should be block quoted.
  36. 36. Use Proper MLA • Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176)
  37. 37. Use Proper MLA • Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176) • Must have:
  38. 38. Use Proper MLA • Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176) • Must have: • In-text parenthetical citation
  39. 39. Use Proper MLA • Refer to The Writer’s FAQs (176) • Must have: • In-text parenthetical citation • Works cited entry
  40. 40. In-Text Citations • Appear at the end of the sentence
  41. 41. In-Text Citations • Appear at the end of the sentence • List the author’s last name and page # in parentheses
  42. 42. Works Cited Page • Lists any work that you cite
  43. 43. Works Cited Page • Lists any work that you cite • Uses MLA style in English courses unless told otherwise
  44. 44. Works Cited Page • Lists any work that you cite • Uses MLA style in English courses unless told otherwise • Must follow a particular format
  45. 45. MLA is tricky only if you don’t look it up!
  46. 46. Writing about Literature • Focus
  47. 47. Writing about Literature • Focus • Do not try to write it all
  48. 48. Writing about Literature • Focus • Do not try to write it all • Illustrate a theme or motif
  49. 49. Writing about Literature • Focus • Do not try to write it all • Illustrate a theme or motif • Analyze a character
  50. 50. Writing about Literature • Focus • Do not try to write it all • Illustrate a theme or motif • Analyze a character • Discuss a metaphor
  51. 51. Writing about Literature • Focus • Do not try to write it all • Illustrate a theme or motif • Analyze a character • Discuss a metaphor • Trace a symbol
  52. 52. Have a thesis!
  53. 53. Organize • Focus on a major issue
  54. 54. Organize • Focus on a major issue • Follow a logical order
  55. 55. Organize • Focus on a major issue • Follow a logical order • Compare or contrast characters, works, etc.
  56. 56. Organize • Focus on a major issue • Follow a logical order • Compare or contrast characters, works, etc. • Work toward synthesis
  57. 57. Write Critically • Use citations
  58. 58. Write Critically • Use citations • Focus on response
  59. 59. Write Critically • Use citations • Focus on response • Remember art
  60. 60. Write Critically • Use citations • Focus on response • Remember art • Consider style and rhetoric
  61. 61. Write Critically • Use citations • Focus on response • Remember art • Consider style and rhetoric • Don’t ape critics or peers

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