Aspect of Communicating to Readers

Essay 1 is a 4 – 5 page (word-processed, 1000 – 1250 word) essay on a specific poem(s) assigned for reading and study thus far in the semester in this unit and in this course. It must be submitted on a WORD document.

Writing a literary analysis involves clearly communicating to your reader what you consider to be the most interesting and important aspect of a given work a particular topic. Develop your interpretation out of details selected from the work itself to support your thesis. Each reader may notice different elements; he may focus on different incidents, characters, images or motifs. Therefore, there are many different possibilities for interesting essay, different because seen from different perspectives, but in some ways, the same because they deal with the same work. The author of a literary work, then, directs the reader to consider certain judgments about human life—suggesting how we ought to live, defining problems relating to the human psyche, social systems or human history—or sometimes showing the consequences of human choice and behavior (some universal truths). Major literary works will inspire some consensus in terms of interpretation; therefore, a work cannot mean anything a reader wants it to mean. Nor does it always mean what the author intended it to mean. By remaining close to the text, explaining particular elements there, writers are more likely to develop an interesting, convincing essay, which makes sense to other readers of a particular time and place and which probably relates, in some degree, to similar works of a particular genre. An analysis must do more than simply retell the story. Plot summary is useful to support a point, but paragraphs starting with pot summary often confuse the reader.

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Each paragraph, then, should be centered on a particular point; it should develop a topic sentence at the start of the paragraph. Make the point, describe the particular textual elements that relate to the point, support the point with quotation, paraphrase the quote in your own words, summarize the point or reference it to some other important element in the text. Also, the essay should discuss how the literary elements achieve the author(s) purpose(s).

Analyze the significance of the textual details and their interrelationships. What inferences should the reader draw in the sentence? What does this paragraph really mean? How does a chapter relate to what happens next? To the end of the story? To the beginning?

In summation, I’m looking for:

• A thoughtful analysis of particular textual details demonstrated by an interesting and focused thesis, well-supported throughout the essay by clear topic sentences, thesis reminders, and fully developed paragraphs.

• A well-organized essay that presents a logical sequence of points.

• A sound introduction which attracts the reader’s interest and end with  a thesis appropriate to the size of the essay; a sound conclusion that does not mechanically repeat all the major points of the essay, but rather centers on your most crucial, most interesting, last major point.
Somehow, again, refer to the thesis, but do not necessarily repeat it mechanically following word by word your introduction.

• Page references cited parenthetically in the text.

• Full documentation of all sources on a works cited or bibliography page.

A good reference book on writing analytical papers is John Trimble’s, Writing with Style. Study chapters on “Openers,” “Closers,” and “Writing a Literary Analysis.” Also, refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers by Joseph Gilbaldi and Walter S. Achtert for quoting, citations, works cited, bibliographies, mechanics, etc. Both of these books are also recommended for this for this course. Additionally, the essays should be written in MLA format for parenthetical documentation and formatting. This means essays should be double spaced, not single-spaced paragraphs then double-spaced between them. The paragraphs should be indented, and although I do not require a title page, students should identify their name, the course, date, and assignment in the upper left-hand corner, before a title, such as:

Here are some suggested topics:

1. Compare how two or more of the poets who, in your view, shares, to some degree, a common point of view about life in America. State how far they agree or disagree and analyze the individual techniques that each uses to convey that point of view.

2. Analyze two or more poems as a piece literary work. This essay can focus on style, plot and structure, characterization, development of theme, tone, setting, use or misuse of myth, identity, etc. Determine what the artistic purpose of the work is and how well the author uses the literary elements to enhance or achieve that purpose.

3. Compare and contrast various topics in two or more poems. Ascertain such topics as the American Dream, immigration, assimilation/acculturation, family, individualism, stereotypes, etc.

4. Discuss the parent/child relationship in two or more poems. Come to some conclusion the authors make about it and show how they characterize it. Also, how do the poets depict the family? A supportive structure or an oppressive cage? Nurtures or smothers the individual? Do you agree with their views? Why or why not? Discuss how they convey their points of views.

5. A topic of your own made in consultation with me. In this case, a title or brief statement of the topic should be submitted.

Note: Students do not need to complete a comparison of two poems. They can concentrate on one if they feel they have enough information to support and develop a 4 – 5 page analysis. Remember to discuss the literary elements and ascertain how they enhance and achieve meaning (support the main point) of the poetry. Also, review the lectures on “Writing a Literary Analysis,” “Thesis Statements,” and the handout on “Thesis Examples.” For more information on Aspect of Communicating to Readers visit this:

Aspect of Communicating to Readers

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