ssignment meets the main outcome in this course of writing literature analysis. You will choose an author and text that you would like to write about and answer the following question: what is this author trying to accomplish with his/her writing? 

In this assignment, the required level of evidence and analysis will be high. Based on interpretations of one or more stories/poems, clearly demonstrate the truth of your claim about what the author is trying to accomplish with his or her writings.

1000~ 1500 words

due to monday night

Authors that you may write about:

choose one

Patricia Grace – potiki

Amos Tutuola’s “The Complete Gentleman”


Here are all of my nit-picky expectations about literary analysis laid out as a list. If you have an questions about any of these requirements, please don’t hesitate to talk to me about them. 

  • The paper must include a strong title that helps to communicate the point of your argument.
  • The paper must include an underlined thesis, or a strong statement about what you’re arguing in answer to the question: What is the author trying to accomplish with this particular text?  The more interesting, sophisticated, and persuasive, the better the thesis statement.
    • The thesis statement should not use the following formula: X is true because of A, B, and C. If you are tempted to use the ABC formula, you should step back and find a way to express A, B, and C as a single idea rather than three specific points.
    • The point you argue should be interesting and not overly obvious–“Sherman Alexie is showing us in his writings that he cares about the well-being of Native Americans” is way too obvious. This is an opportunity to challenge yourself and come up with something interesting and thought provoking.
  • The paper should demonstrate your main argument in a variety of ways, as opposed to repeatedly making the same point. Another way to think about this: the paper should have supporting points that help you make your main point.
  • The paper must include evidence: evidence can be in the form of quotations from the text or paraphrases/descriptions of the texts and the author’s background.
  • The majority of the evidence should be drawn from the text you are writing about; however, the author’s biographical information may also be used as supporting evidence.
  • The paper must incorporate at least two short quotations.
  • The paper should include analysis, which in this case, would involve detailed discussion of how the evidence serves to illustrate or demonstrate your main point and any supporting points.
  • 90% of the paper must be in your own words, as opposed to quotations from the text. In others words, quotations should not take up more than 100/1000 of your total word count.
  • Paragraphs should be organized around a single topic or idea.
  • The paper should be organized in a coherent fashionfor example, obvious points might come first with gradually more complex points coming later.
  • The writing should be clear and grammatically correct. Try and focus on getting your point across, rather than sounding smart. If you have something smart to say, sounding smart will happen naturally.
  • Citation requirements: Both in text citation and a bibliography in MLA format are required.

Some General Advice:

Sitting down and typing out a literary analysis paper in a single session without any preparation is not something that most people can do. Some of the best literary analysis is the result of time spent with the text.

  1. Read it.
  2. Think about it.
  3. Read it again.
  4. Mark passages that you would like use as evidence.
  5. Consider how you will go about analyzing those passages.
  6. Identify points you will make based on interpretations of separate passages.
  7. Maybe even create a paragraph-by-paragraph outline, in which you arrange these points in the order you would like to write them.
  8. Step back and consider an even broader thesis or argument that holds all of these points together.
  9. Maybe then, if you feel ready, start writing.

These pre-writing steps will make a huge difference in your final product. Literary analysis can be a lot of fun and sometimes even easy to write, but only if you have something to say. This is why I suggest taking the time to gather your thoughts before you start writing.

Sample Outline of Argument with Thesis and Supporting Points: (based on Nadesda Taligina’s Sketches)

This is just a sample of the kind of short notes I might produce when planning what to write. Notice how the supporting points are slight variations (as opposed to replications) of the thesis:

Thesis (Topic of Introduction Paragraph): Nadesda Taligina’s sketches show how the Khanty people raise animals to the level of personhood by representing them in her work as part of the community and even, at times, as an extension of the identity of its human members.

Supporting Point 1 (Topic of First Paragraph): In Taligina’s images of Khanty community, the placement of animals at the center of tribal gatherings suggests that they are often welcomed into the community.

Supporting Point 2 (Topic of Second Paragraph): Taligina’s sketches are known to identify certain individuals as enlightened, a quality that she freely assigns to Reindeer and tribespeople alike.

Supporting Point 3 (Topic of Third Paragraph): At times, her works even evoke friendship between people and animals, which is made possible by Khanty culture’s tradition of treating animals as guests.

Point 4 (Topic of Fourth Paragraph): Directly Argue/Elaborate on Thesis

Point 5 (Topic of Fifth Paragraph): Counter Counter-arguments, such as a possible interpretion that Taligina was a Reindeer breeder and still engaged in the domestication of animals.

Conclusion (Topic of Sixth Paragraph): Expand on signficance or importance of my thesis/claim–maybe that “Taligina’s Khanty perspective on animals offers an alterantive that preserves the benefits of domestication while avoiding some of the less humane consquences of working with animals in the absence of any interpersonal connection.

For more sample arguments, see my video lectures, as I typically organize these by providing evidence and analysis, followed by a thesis or claim.

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