I’m studying for my Literature class and don’t understand how to answer this. Can you help me study?
http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/swift/gulliver1.htmlObjectives of Literary Analysis Papers:
- To demonstrate one’s ability to engage in complex, literary analysis (i.e. “close reading” of a literary text)
- To practice developing original arguments about a fictional text that highlight how the text creates meaning or achieves its purpose(s)
- To practice using concrete evidence from the fictional text (quotations, references to form/content, or methods such as point of view or characterization) in order to support one’s “reading” (your “close reading” refers to your argument or interpretation of the work)
Things to avoid:
- Summary (assume your reader is familiar with the text—spend all of your space arguing and analyzing evidence, not summarizing the plot)
- Generalizations (literary analyses depend upon using concrete evidence—usually in the form of quotations—to prove a point)
- Long quotations (I know all the tricks! Don’t fill your paper with huge block quotes just to fill up space. Use only the words necessary to prove your point—this usually means a phrase, or that you can even quote single words rather than entire lines. When choosing quotations, make sure they apply and that every part of them is necessary. If parts of the quote are not needed, use the […] sign to indicate you have skipped some of the words and only include what is relevant to your argument)
- Broad theses (be as specific and as narrow as possible—three to four pages is not a lot of space, so force yourself to refine your focus)
- Repetitive conclusions (you don’t need to repeat your thesis or your points in the conclusion—use the conclusion to do something new with your ideas instead)
Guidelines to follow:
- 2-3 pages, typed, 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins
- Responses must be on one of the primary texts for the course
- MLA heading and header with last name and page number (see Purdue OWL for examples of what an “MLA Heading” looks like)
- MLA style and Works Cited page (All quotations must include a parenthetical citation including author’s last name and the page number. Ex: “Sally was sad” (Wilde 67). Or According to Wilde, Dorian “hates” art (67).) Again, visit Purdue OWL for examples of MLA citation style. No secondary or outside sources required (though you may incorporate other class readings if you so wish)
- Final draft due as a .doc upload to Canvas by 8:00 am on Wednesday, March 4
Additional advice to help you get started:
Literary analysis are the place for you to get creative. You’ve read the text, and surely you’ve had some ideas or opinions about what it is saying, the ideas it puts forth, and the methods it employs to achieve its themes and purpose. This is the time to develop those ideas into an arguable thesis and to support your thesis with concrete evidence from the text. These papers are not reflections (though you may spend some time reflecting within them). They are “serious” papers addressed to an academic audience that make a claim about the text and thoroughly support that claim through complex analysis of textual evidence. In other words, they are persuasive papers, meant to prove the validity of your particular interpretation of the novel. Since this paper is rather short (2-3 pages), you will need to be very specific within your thesis so that you can adequately prove your claim in the space allowed. This means you might want to focus on the significance of just one scene/character/quotation/chapter. Or you might want to analyze the function or significance of a particular relationship between characters. You may want to focus on the ways the author creates or develops a character or a component of the plot, or how setting adds to a text’s meaning, or how structure/form (things like point of view, style, organization, sentence structure, etc.) add to the meaning of the text.
While we have addressed several issues such as representations of monstrosity, scatology/excrement as satire, constructions of knowledge, and depictions of nature, the paper’s focus is up to you—trust your instincts about what catches your attention as you read (it will help to take notes as you read and in class to keep track of things that interest you), and just go with it. See if you can develop that interest into a solid, arguable thesis. The major question to keep in mind when choosing a topic to write about is: How does this add or detract from the text? Additional questions to keep in mind are: How does X function in the larger scheme of things to create meaning? Why did the author choose to do things this way or include this? Is X working/not working? Why or why not? In other words, ask yourself the “so what?” question!
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