Literary Text Analysis

For the primary text you can choose from Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, or, Willa Cather’s My Àntonia.

You must choose one aspect that you find significant in the text you pick.

Here you are to choose one particular aspect, quality, etc. that you find is significant in the piece of fiction.

You cannot choose a “theme”, as in “a central theme”

Examples of such aspects include symbolism, imagery, narrative style, structure, character aspects (portrayal, narration), theme, a particular narrative conceit or convention, etc.

Again the emphasis is on analysis: argue how the aspect you’ve chosen is significant (how it is addressed or portrayed in the text and/or what the narrative suggests via it) but this time you need to connect what you discuss to the literary era in which the text is situated (or other appropriate context, such as the historical era it portrays in the case of a work like The Scarlet Letter).

You should focus on an aspect that is significant to examine in the primary work.

The essay should demonstrate your skilled analysis of the fictional work, your ability to argue for your point and your ability to contextualize your arguments about the text within a social or historical context.  

1. You must use at minimum two secondary sources for your ideas about the context. One of these may be Texts and Events. The course book Text and Events: Cultural Narratives of Britain and the United States, Henry, Alastair; Bergström, Catharine Walker

Otherwise, be sure to pick credible sources. More than two sources is acceptable if you can use them appropriately, but remember, the social context part of the essay should be secondary to your arguments about and analysis of the primary work.

2. The essay should be 1200– 1400 words, not counting your name, the title or the list of Works Cited at the end of the essay. Note that quotations are included in the word limit. Please, keep to the word limit. If your text is too long or short, I will send it back without reading it.

As with all academic papers, the essay should follow the structure introduction, discussion, conclusion. Be sure to have a strong thesis statement in your introduction (statement of what you will prove/argue–your claim).

Remember that a thesis is not a statement of method or a statement about your topic and approach (both of which may be appropriate to include in the introduction), it is a statement of your overall argument. Make sure to create transitions between sentences and paragraphs.

Do not forget to include a Works Cited with the sources documented properly in MLA format at the end of your essay.

Submit the assignment as a word document (.doc or .docx) in the designated dropbox by deadline (see below). NB! Being able to meet a deadline is also part of the essay task–essays that are not submitted on time will likely receive a lower grade.

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