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Literary Analysis Paper for American Literature


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Assignment requirements, guidelines, etc. for the literary analysis paper for American Literature: beginnings to 1865.

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Literary Analysis Paper for American Literature

  1. 1. Assignment: Literary Analysis Paper 1© Karen L. Thompson ● Department of English ● University of Idaho 1. Requirements and Guidelines 2. Taking the Stress out of Writing a Sustained Literary Analysis 3. Preparatory Work I and II 4. Writing Workshop English 343: American Literature: beginnings to 1865
  2. 2. 2 • Sustained literary analysis of one or more works we have studied this semester. • Thesis driven with evidentiary support using short quotes integrated into your writing in a manner that helps readers understand how you arrived at the points you are making. • Incorporates one scholarly source to advance or challenge your ideas. Using more than one scholarly source is encouraged but not required. • MLA documentation style for source citation and bibliography is preferred but any standard documentation style will be accepted. • Prose style is concise; uses strong verbs; topic and stress positions effectively; and paragraphs are logically ordered. • Free of serious surface errors. • Submitted at the end of the semester (see schedule for specific due date). Literary Analysis Paper Requirements and Guidelines
  3. 3. 3 The prospect of writing a sustained piece of writing at the end of a semester is often stressful for far too many students. Students who dread writing this type of paper tell me it is because identifying an idea to write about much less develop the content for a longer paper is challenging, and they don’t know where to begin. I need an idea.
  4. 4. 4 My goal this semester is to take the stress out of writing a sustained literary analysis by asking you to complete preparatory work. Prep work is designed to help you arrive at a quality thesis and develop it. The idea is to be so prepared that your paper practically writes itself. Well, you’ll still have to actually write it, and I’ve set aside some time at the end of the semester for a writer’s workshop to help you draft, revise, and edit your paper. Let’s make this less stressful.
  5. 5. 5 Of course, you may be a great at writing longer papers. If so, let’s build on your excellent skills to take them to the next level. I want to help both those who struggle and those who do not to work more efficiently and less stressfully. Sometimes the power of my brain scares me.
  6. 6. Preparatory Work I and II • There are four parts to each of the preparatory work assignments. • I will collect and evaluate your prep work twice during the semester. • At the end of the semester, you will then have two preparatory work assignments to choose from to write your paper. 6
  7. 7. 7 Here are the four parts you need to complete for each of the prep work assignments. Part 1: Annotated bibliography Part 2: Rhetorical Analysis of a Scholarly Article Part 3: Exploratory Narrative Part 4: Mind Map The following slides go through each of the parts as well as how to format your preparatory work. Preparatory Work • Requirements and Guidelines
  8. 8. 8 Part 1: Annotated Bibliography Decide which of the texts you are interested in writing about as follows: • Prep Work I: choose from weeks 1-6. • Prep Work II, choose from weeks 7-12. You may work with one of the readings or more than one. Next, explore scholarly articles where authors are discussing the text(s) you have chosen or texts with a similar theme you are interested in writing about. Choose three articles and compose part 1: annotated bibliography. See the next slide for an example of an annotated bibliography entry.
  9. 9. 9 Example: Excerpt from an Annotated Bibliography (you will need three total). Notice how the entry focuses on the Salska’ thesis and claims.
  10. 10. 10 Part 2: Rhetorical Analysis of a Scholarly Article (about 750 words) • Using the annotated bibliography, select an article that looks promising to incorporate into your literary analysis paper. Next, describe how the author uses rhetoric (language and structure) to interpret the literature under discussion. • You will need to state the author’s thesis and key points as you do this, but the focus of part 2 should be on HOW the author is achieving his/her purpose. • Consider how the author introduces the work. • How are claims supported? • Are some terms defined? Which ones and how? • Are other authors or works discussed and to what end? • If possible, try to categorize the branch of literary theory or criticism the author is applying. • The idea is to use the article as a possible model for discovering new ways to develop your own writing. See next slides for examples.
  11. 11. 11 Example 1: Excerpt from a former student’s part 2 work. Rhetorical Analysis of a Scholarly Article In the article “‘Once Masculines…Now Feminines Awhile’: Gendered Imagery and the Significance of the Anne Bradstreet’s The Tenth Muse” Alice Henton argues that many readings of Anne Bradstreet’s poetry have not taken a holistic approach to the topics she covers. Henton addresses what previous critics have said about Bradstreet’s poetry and its place in literary canon in her introduction as a way to introduce her own reading of the poetry and her main argument: that Bradstreet “destabilizes gender assumptions” (Henton 303) and paves the way for female writers who came after her. Notice this analysis is focused on on explaining HOW Henton sets up her reading of Bradstreet.
  12. 12. 12 Example 2: Excerpt from a former student’s part 2 work. The structure of Salska’s article is broken into two sections. The first section discusses the struggle of Puritans as unworthy of God – as found in their writings – and the modes by which they conveyed their struggle. The second explains the doubt by which Puritans lived . . . . Notice this analysis is focused on on explaining HOW Salska’s article is structured.
  13. 13. 13 Part 3: Exploratory Narrative (about 750 words) An exploratory narrative is more open- ended than a paper stemming from a well-formulated thesis. Think of this type of writing as seeking a thesis or thinking out loud. Open-form writing allows you to dwell on the complexity of ideas the literature raises in a way that can lead to insight. Your exploration should lead you to at least one substantive thesis idea. See the next slide for an example.
  14. 14. 14 Example 1: Excerpt from a former student’s part 3 work. Exploratory Narrative What strikes me most about Anne Bradstreet’s poetry is how incredibly human it is in spite of the environment in which is it was written. The ideology of the Puritans—weaned affections, predestination—was incredibly strict but through her poetry, Bradstreet demonstrated that it was not enough to bury more human behaviors. Notice how the use of first-person and a working thesis (second sentence).
  15. 15. 15 Example 2: Excerpt from a former student’s part 3 work. Exploratory Narrative: Playing Questions with Literature regarding Contradictions in Puritanism in a Stream-of-Consciousness Style When facing the task of formulating a plan for a literary analysis paper I’m overwhelmed by all the possibilities. For this exploratory narrative, I’ve settled on the Puritans, and I am thinking about them as humans struggling to achieve an avowed identity under the weight of maintaining ascribed identities. I recently learned the difference between avowed and ascribed identity, and I’m thinking about how I can apply what I learned to Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Notice how the writer is “thinking out loud” but in a structured way.
  16. 16. 16 Part 4: Mind Map A mind map is a diagram of related information stemming from a central idea, in this case, your thesis. After you have written part 3, map your exploratory narrative, keeping in mind what you learned about interpreting literature from your rhetorical analysis of the scholarly article. You won’t be mapping the article though, just your exploratory narrative. • Start with your working thesis and create the map segments by writing analytical claims to support this thesis. • Each claim will need at least one supporting quote from the literature you chose and a page number where the quote can be found. • As you work, allow yourself the freedom to discover new ideas that might lead to a different thesis (you do not need to rewrite part 3 if this occurs). You may use Word or a digital tool of your choice to create your map • If you prefer, it’s fine to create a detailed outline instead of a map.
  17. 17. 17 Example 1: Mind Map Notice the working thesis, claims, and supporting quotes with page numbers. Working(Thesis A(major(theme(in(the(story(is(the( tension(between(logic(and(the( supernatural. Claim(1:(Poe(personifies(Usher's(house( to((give(the(reader(a(better( understanding(about(what(the(house( looked(like(to(the(narrator,(and(what( the(house(made(the(narrator(feel. pg.(654((paragraph(1):("I(looked(upon( the(scene(before(meKKupon(the(mere( house,(and(the(simple(landscape( features(of(the(domainKKupon(the( bleak(wallsKKupon(the$vacant$eye*like$ windows..." Claim(2: Poe(uses(a(simile(to(create( imagery(within(the(end(of(the(story(. Pg.(667((last(paragraph):("There(was(a( long(tumultuous(shouting(sound(like( the(voice(of(a(thousand(waters.(" Claim(3:(The(narrator(is(written(as( logical(and(rational(ton(keep(the(story( grounded(in(realism.( Pg.654((paragraph(1):("It(was(( possible,(I(reflected,(that(a(mere( different(arrangement(of(the( particulars(of(the(scene(,(ofthe(details( of(this(picture.,(would(be(sufficient(to( modify..."( Claim(4:(Poe(wrote(Roderick(Usher(in( the(image(of(himself(in(an(attempt(to( search(for(his(own(identity. Pg. 656(paragraph(3):("A(( cadaverousness(of(complexion;(an( eye(large,(liquid,(and(luminious( beyond(comparison;(lips(somewhat( thin(and(very(pallid,(but(of(a( surpassingliy(beautiful(curve;(a(nose( of(a(delicate(Hebrew(model.."
  18. 18. 18 Example 2: Mind Map Both examples 1 and 2 are using the SmartArt feature in Word. Contraditions*in*Culture*and* Prose*/ A*Battle*for*Control*and* Coping Standards*of*society*vs.* implementation*and*personal* practice*of*standards Consider*Bradstreet*/didn't* practice*weaned*affections Coped*with*society*by*writing* private*prose*to*reveal*emotions* and*release*stress? Supporting*evidence:*Quote*on* p.*215,*"Most*truly*honored,*and* as*truly*dear..." Purpose*of*writing*prose Consider*Wigglesworth*/ was* the*purpose*to*scare*people*or* be*a*cultural*guide? Supporting*evidence:*Quote*on* p.*251,*"Unto*the*saints*with*said* complaints..." Crisis*with*purpose*of*existence Consider*Bradford*/ out*of* control*and*seeking*a* justification*for*such? Supporting*evidence:*Quote*on* p.*135,*"And*here*is*to*be*noted*a* special*providence*of*God..."
  19. 19. 19 Example 3: Mind Map This student used a free cloud computing tool to create the map. Notice the quotes with page reference. The ideas presented in Ralph Waldon Emerson's Nature coincide with the characteristics of nature in Taoism Taoism Brief explanation of Taoism: "The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao" Nature in Taoism Te and Tao - see rhetorical analysis for a thorough description of their relationship from Marie Ellen Chen Nature in Emerson's Nature The delight of nature lies in the harmony between man and nature (217) "All science has one aim, namely, to find a theory of nature" (215). Emerson considered man's drive to understand nature to be as much a philosophical as a scientific endeavor nature is devout (237) How nature interacts with man (243) depends upon man's own connection and comprehension of nature. Those who respect its fluidity can have and do anything. "What we are, that only we can see." Compare and Contrast Taoism and Nature Similarities Emphasis on harmony between man and nature Shared assumption of some kind of supreme being, be it God or the eternal Tao The BIG point: "Idealism sees the world in God. It beholds the whole circle of persons and things, of actions and events, of country and religion, not as painfully accumulated, atom after atom, act after act, in an aged creeping Past, but as one vast picture, which God paints on the instant eternity, for the contemplation of the soul." (236) This is a HUGE part of how Taoism views the cyclical, indescribable, uncontainable, ever- expanding nature of the Tao. This thing that persists throughout time, that must be taken in as a whole, as "one vast picture." This is their biggest common trait. Belief in the totality of nature (222) -- though their conclusions on what it means and represents to man do differ somewhat Matter is the physical manifestation of the spirit (God or the Tao) The presence of absence of the pure spirit (te, in Taoism) is what decides how man interacts with and understand nature (243). Differences Emerson is obsessed with the science of nature (215), while Taoism is much more spiritual/philosophical Emerson considers nature evidence of God attempting to "emancipate" humans from a low existence(232); however, because of this, views nature as fluid, much like Taoism does.
  20. 20. 20 Example 4: Mind Map If you prefer, create a descriptive outline for your mind map. Outline Proposed Thesis: In “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Aylmer finds Georgianna's defect so repellent not because it is a physical flaw, but because it reflects his fear of his own imperfection. The flaw is not hers it is his, and Aylmer uses the birth-mark as a physical distraction to hide his inner flaw. Supporting Point One: Aylmer is insecure. I. He hides things from her. a. He is upset when she looks at his journals (426). b. He is angry when she comes into his part of the laboratory (427), which represents an unauthorized breach into his psyche. c. He doesn’t tell her how dangerous his attempts to remove the birth-mark are (427). He doubts that he will be successful. II. He feels like he has to prove how wonderful he is. a. The flower experiment. When it fails, he does another experiment “to make up for (423)” the first. b. Gives an account of his knowledge in order to impress Georgiana (424). c. He doesn’t even attempt to use the freckle remover (425) (who knows it might work) and instead goes for something far more dramatic and impressive. Supporting Point Two: Aylmer uses Georgianna to project his insecurities onto. I. The birth-mark represents the lack of perfection in his work and by removing it, he can boast perfection in his science, and in his domestic life. a. Aylmer sees the birth-mark as a flaw, while Georgiana sees it as a charm (419). The problem is not the birth-mark, but how Aylmer sees it. b. He chose Georgiana as a wife because of the birth-mark, because he couldn’t forget about his failures. 1. His comment about his journals. There are parts of it “which I can scarcely glance over and keep my senses (426).” II. While Aylmer has something to point to that is the problem other than him, he doesn’t have to focus on his own shortcomings. a. Removal of the birth-mark represents removal of all his failings and a sort of salvation. 1. When he brings her the drink, it is described as “bright enough to be the draught of immortality (428). The appearance of the drink being equated with immortality shows the hope that Aylmer has that it will erase all of his failings. Supporting Point Three: Examination of How Georgiana Takes on Aylmer’s Shame I. Georgiana’s speech reveals that she sees herself as something to be acted upon. a. “Then why did you take me from my mother’s side (419)?” b. “Either remove this dreadful Hand, or take my wretched life (421)!” c. She speaks of his journal making her worship him more than ever (426). She is being acted upon by the journal. II. Because she believes she is meant to be passive and Aylmer is meant to be active, she internalizes what he says about her birth-mark. a. She takes his reactions towards her to mean that there is something wrong with her and that is why she faints (422). b. She worships and idolizes him. This is apparent by her awe of his work, and how she reacts to his journal. She believes him because she doesn’t see his flaw. 1. She starts to believe that it is her own shortcoming. c. Georgiana hears Aylmer’s dream and he doesn’t remember it (420). This is an example of her beginning to take on his twisted conceptions.
  21. 21. 21 Format Format for parts 1-3. It’s up to you. You may single- space the text or double-space it. Format for part 4, you may submit a separate document file, image file or, if you are using a cloud computing tool that stores your map, then submit the url address (be sure to check that it works). Of course, you may put all of the four parts together and upload one file. Whatever works best for you. Do use major headings for each part of the preparatory work. If you decide to quote from the scholarly article in your exploratory narrative, create citations for any quotes, so you will have this done when you get ready to write your literary analysis paper.
  22. 22. 22 Writing Workshop The week after fall break will be devoted to a writing workshop. Bring a laptop to class, decide which prepatory work you will use for the paper. Bring the prep work, your book, and the scholarly article(s) you plan to incorporate into the paper to class. You will be required to submit drafts of your work each day of the workshop (at the end of class). A complete draft will be due after the workshop for an in-class review (see schedule for date).