• 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
• MLA documentation style for source citation
and bibliography is preferred but any
standard documentation style will be
• 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
The prospect of writing a sustained
piece of writing at the end of a
semester is often stressful for far too
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.
My goal this semester is to take the stress
out of writing a sustained literary analysis
by asking you to complete preparatory
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
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
the power of
Preparatory Work I and II
• There are four parts to each of the preparatory
• 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.
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
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
Choose three articles and compose part 1:
annotated bibliography. See the next slide for
an example of an annotated bibliography
Excerpt from an
will need three
Notice how the
entry focuses on
the Salska’ thesis
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
• Consider how the author introduces the work.
• How are claims supported?
• Are some terms defined? Which ones and
• Are other authors or works discussed and to
• 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.
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.
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
(about 750 words)
An exploratory narrative is more open-
ended than a paper stemming from a
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
Your exploration should lead you to at
least one substantive thesis idea. See
the next slide for an example.
Example 1: Excerpt from a former student’s part 3 work.
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
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
Notice how the writer is “thinking out loud” but in a structured way.
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
• 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.
Example 1: Mind Map
Notice the working thesis, claims, and supporting quotes with page numbers.
Example 2: Mind Map
Both examples 1 and 2 are using the SmartArt feature in Word.
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
Brief explanation of
Taoism: "The tao that
can be told is not the
Nature in Taoism
Te and Tao - see
rhetorical analysis for
description of their
Marie Ellen Chen
Nature in Emerson's Nature
The delight of nature
lies in the harmony
between man and
"All science has one aim,
namely, to find a theory
of nature" (215).
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
some kind of
be it God or the
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
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
Emerson is obsessed
with the science of
nature (215), while
Taoism is much more
nature evidence of God
from a low
however, because of
this, views nature as
fluid, much like Taoism
Example 4: Mind Map
If you prefer, create a
descriptive outline for your
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.
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
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.
The week after fall break will be devoted to a writing
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
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).