A Very Basic Guide To an Analytical Literature Based Essay 1st Paragraph: Please introduce the idea.

Ex) The author’s name + novel or short story, “I am a Short Story and So I Go In Quotes”/ I am a Novel and So I am Underlined OR Italicized But Not Both, is the story (This is called general context and is where you speak generally about the plot of the story – for example you may refer to the main character as “a woman” while in the next sentence you will call her by her name _______________. Over the course of the novel/story (this is called specific context and is where you describe in greater detail the main plot of the work of literature) _______________________. The primary idea that that author explores is his/her text is (here is where you insert what you think is the central idea/theme/conflict of the work of literature) Through his/her examination of (restate the central idea/theme/conflict) Author’s Name Here hopes to persuade his/her readers that (Here is where you insert the writer’s purpose – what does the writer want you, the reader, to take away from his/her novel or story? What is the moral or the message? This is your thesis). 2nd Paragraph: Please introduce and describe the 1 st scene and explain how it supports your thesis Ex) The first scene I am going to examine takes place here is where you want to contextualize the scene (i.e. in the first paragraph of the story when the reader meets the narrator for the first time). In this scene (describe what is happening in the scene, preferably using a quote). This scene is important because it shows (explain how the scene is supporting your thesis – because this is your first example, this scene may serve to introduce the main idea while later scenes may develop or add complexity to that idea). 3rd , 4th and 5th Paragraphs: Please continue to write about scenes show the development of the central idea/theme/conflict . Remember that an ‘A’ paper will use at least one quote to anchor each paragraph and support and develop the thesis. 6th Paragraph: Please conclude your essay explaining how the scenes you have presented to your readers demonstrate the writer’s intention to convey a larger idea, message, or moral in his or her work of literature. Ex) through a careful examination of Author’s Name and the title of his/her work here it is clear that one of the most prominent ideas in the novel/story is insert idea here . Specifically, it is possible to see the development of Author’s names here ideas about idea here in a number of scenes, including remind reader of the scenes you have examined.

Yet, the question remains, why does Author’s name here seem so intent upon conveying the idea that insert idea here to his/her readers. Here is where you can go in a number of directions – I think, Perhaps he/she wants the reader to, etc. – as long as you attempt to answer the question of why, as long as you are doing more than just showing that an idea EXISTS in a novel or story you are writing a successful essay!

AP English The Junior Paper Assignment
The junior research paper will account for 50% of your 4th quarter grade (this means that you can't pass the quarter if you fail to hand in a paper). Here are a few of the basic requirements:
• • • • •

The paper should focus on an approved work of literature written by a major American writer The paper needs to offer an in-depth literary analysis of the selected text Please use 2 -3 critical sources to help you introduce, develop, and/or support your original thesis statement The paper ought to be 10 - 12 pages in length Please use complete and accurate MLA format when you document your sources.

In addition to the final version of the paper itself, you are responsible for handing in (both individually and with the final paper):
• • • •

A thesis statement (you may hand in a draft of the introduction if you like) An outline A total of 50 note cards (this is the only item that you do not need to hand in with the final paper) At least one draft of the paper

Papers will be graded on the basis of content, organization, language and editing, and clarity and style. The grading rubric will be similar to those used throughout the year (see me if you need a copy of an old rubric). Any paper handed in late will lose 10 points daily (this means a paper that is 2 days late would lose 20 points). There are very few acceptable excuses for a late paper -”My computer ______________" is not one of them.

American Literature Book List
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom, Light in August Willa Cather, My Antonia, The Song of the Lark, O Pioneers Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, The Custom of the Country, Ethan Frome Henry James, The American, Portrait of a Lady, The Europeans, Washington Square, The Wings of the Dove Frank Norris, McTeague Maxine Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior Charles Johnson, Middle Passage Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, The Marble Faun, The Blithedale Romance Joseph Heller, Catch 22 Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 Richard Wright, Black Boy, Native Son Emily Dickinson, selected poem Kate Chopin, A Vocation and a Voice (short stories) Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell To Arms (please select the book you did NOT read in class) Flannery O’Connor, collected short stories Tennessee Williams, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof , A Streetcar Named Desire , The Glass Menagerie Sylvia Plath, selected poems Edgar Allan Poe, selected short stories Ralph Waldo Emerson, essays Henry David Thoreau, Walden Washington Irving, selected short stories John Steinback, The Grapes of Wrath Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God Langston Hughes, selected short stories or selected poems Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina (because this is a relatively new book, criticism may not be as readily available) Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5 Herman Melville, Moby Dick Tama Janovitz, Slaves of New York, A Certain Age Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction

Joyce Carol Oates, Foxfire, We Were the Mulvaneys (to name 2 of many!!!)

American Realism

1865 – 1910
In a web essay written for the ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, Patricia Penrose speaks of the years following the Civil War as a time when writers, “…waged verbal battles over the ways that fictional characters were presented in relation to their external world.” Penrose’s essay focuses on the emergence of American Realism, a movement in literature supported writers who believed that, “… humanity’s freedom of choice was limited by the power of outside forces.” The key word in this passage is limited. For unlike the Naturalists, a group of writers who believed that, “…individuals had no choice because a person’s life is dictated by heredity and the external environment,” Realists seemed to believe that individuals had some power in determining their own destiny. American Realists included authors such as Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Upton Sinclair, and Kate Chopin (to name just a few). Some of the topics embraced by American Realists included life in the urban city/factory, marriage and the changing role of women, and issues of race in America. Another major trend in American Realism is “regional” writing. With the country in the midst of a major industrial revolution, many Americans longed for tales of old ways and old traditions. Some Realist writers chose to set their novels in specific regions of the country, write about everyday life, utilize local dialects, and write about ordinary people and their struggles to live and survive “everyday” lives. William Dean Howells wrote that, “Realism is nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.” Other basic elements of Realistic Literature include: • Character is more important than action and plot. • • Humans control their destinies and as a result characters act on their environment rather than simply reacting to it. American Realists render reality closely and in comprehensive detail.

• Events in realist literature are usually plausible and realistic novels generally avoid the sensational and the dramatic elements more commonly associated with naturalistic novels and romances. • Class is important and the realistic novel has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of the middle class. • The purpose of realistic literature is to instruct and entertain. • The use of symbolism is limited and the realists depend more upon the use of images. Naturalism “…was an extension of realism, a reaction against the restrictions inherent in the realistic emphasis on the ordinary… naturalists insisted that the extraordinary is real too.” Naturalists wrote about, “…the fringes of society, the criminal, the fallen, the down-and-out, earning as one definition of their work the phrase sordid realism…Darwinism was especially important to the genre, as the naturalists perceived a person’s fate as the product of blind external or biological forces.” **This handout is based upon the research of Patricia Penrose. Both the quotes included in this handout and the elements of Realistic Literature are excerpted from directly from her work on the ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre website.

Rhetorical Analysis: Critical Reading
When you are asked to do a "rhetorical analysis" of a text, you are being asked to apply your critical reading skills to break down the "whole" of the text into the sum of its "parts." You try to determine what the writer is trying to achieve, and what writing strategies he/she is using to try to achieve it. Reading critically means more than just being moved, affected, informed, influenced, and persuaded by a piece of writing. Reading critically also means analyzing and understanding how the work has achieved its effect. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself when you begin to analyze a piece of prose. These questions can be used even if you're being asked only to read the text rather than write a formal analysis (a sample of detailed formal analysis follows later in this section). Keep in mind that you don't need to apply all of these questions to every text. This rather exhaustive list is simply one method for getting you started on reading (and then writing) more critically.

Questions to ask for a Critical Reading:
1. What is the general subject? Does the subject mean anything to you? Does it bring up any personal associations? Is the subject a controversial one? 2. What is the thesis (the overall main point)? How does the thesis interpret/comment on the subject? 3. What is the tone of the text? Do you react at an emotional level to the text? Does this reaction change at all throughout the text? 4. What is the writers' purpose? To explain? To inform? To anger? Persuade? Amuse? Motivate? Sadden? Ridicule? Anger? Is there more than one purpose?

Does the purpose shift at all throughout the text? 5. How does the writer develop his/her ideas? Narration? Description? Definition? Comparison? Analogy? Cause and Effect? Example? Why does the writer use these methods of development? 6. How does the writer arrange his/her ideas? What are the patterns of arrangement? Particular to general? Broad to specific? Spatial? Chronological? Alternating? Block? 7. Is the text unified and coherent? Are there adequate transitions? How do the transitions work? 8. What is the sentence structure like in the text? Does the writer use fragments or run-ons? Declarative? Imperative? Interrogative? Exclamatory? Are they simple? Compound? Complex? Compound-complex? Short? Long? Loose? Periodic? Balanced? Parallel? Are there any patterns in the sentence structure? Can you make any connections between the patterns and the writers' purpose? 9. Does the writer use dialogue? Quotations? To what effect? 10. How does the writer use diction? Is it formal? Informal? Technical? Jargon? Slang? Is the language connotative? Denotative? Is the language emotionally evocative? Does the language change throughout the piece? How does the language contribute to the writers' aim? 11. Is there anything unusual in the writers' use of punctuation? What punctuation or other techniques of emphasis (italics, capitals, underlining, ellipses, parentheses) does the writer use? Is punctuation over- or under used? Which marks does the writer use when, and for what effects? Dashes to create a hasty breathlessness? Semi-colons for balance or contrast? 12. Are important terms repeated throughout the text? Why? 13. Are there any particularly vivid images that stand out? What effect do these images have on the writers' purpose? 14. Are devices of comparison used to convey or enhance meaning? Which tropes-similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, etc. does the writer use? When does he/she use them? Why? 15. Does the writer use devices of humor? Puns? Irony? Sarcasm? Understatement? Parody? Is the effect comic relief? Pleasure? Hysteria? Ridicule?

Developing A Thesis Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be." An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?) A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay. Steps in Constructing a Thesis First, analyze your primary sources. Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up

with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-andsuch a poem—which is not a thesis.) Once you have a working thesis, write it down. There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have. Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction. A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb. Anticipate the counter-arguments. Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counter-argument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.) Michael Dukakis lost the 1988 presidential election because he failed to campaign vigorously after the Democratic National Convention. This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counter- arguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counter-argument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below. While Dukakis' "soft-on-crime" image hurt his chances in the 1988 election, his failure to campaign vigorously after the Democratic National Convention bore a greater responsibility for his defeat. Some Caveats and Some Examples A thesis is never a question. Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water. A thesis is never a list. "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why

communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important. A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational. An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading. An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim. "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim." A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible. Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent." Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University http://www.mrscassel.com/helpful_handouts.htm

TITLE Ponder the title before reading the poem PARAPHRASE Translate the poem into your own words CONNOTATION Contemplate the poem for meaning beyond the literal ATTITUDE Observe both the speaker's and the poet's attitude (tone) SHIFTS Note shifts in speaker and in attitudes TITLE Examine the title again, this time on an interpretive level THEME Determine what the poet is saying

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