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Writing a Literary Analysis. What is Literary Analysis?. It’s literary It’s an analysis It’s-- An Argument! It may also involve research on and analysis of secondary sources. How is It “Literary”?.

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Writing a Literary Analysis

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what is literary analysis
What is Literary Analysis?
  • It’s literary
  • It’s an analysis
  • It’s--
  • An Argument!
  • It may also involve research on and analysis of secondary sources
how is it literary
How is It “Literary”?
  • Usually, a literary analysis will involve a discussion of a text as writing, thus the term literary, which means “having to do with letters”.
  • This will involve the use of certain concepts that are very specifically associated with literature.
important literary concepts
The Basics



Narration/point of view






Important Literary Concepts
  • Other key concepts
    • Historical context
    • Social, political, economic contexts
    • Ideology
    • Multiple voices
    • Various critical orientations
    • Literary theory
how can i learn more
How Can I Learn More?
  • There are various handbooks of literary terms available in most libraries.
  • There are numerous introductions to literary criticism and theory that are widely available.
  • Example: A Handbook to Literature. Harmon/Holman
  • Find numerous resources on the Internet.
what is an analysis
What is an Analysis?

An analysis of a literary work may discuss:

  • how an author uses a specific element of literature and it effect on the reader.
  • how the various components of an individual work relate to each other.
  • how two separate literary works deal with similar concepts or forms.
  • how concepts and forms in literary works relate to larger aesthetic, political, social, economic, or religious contexts.
how is literary analysis an argument
How is Literary Analysis an Argument?
  • When writing a literary analysis, you focus on a specific attribute(s) of the text(s).
  • When discussing these attributes, you want to make sure that you are making a specific, arguable point (thesis) about these attributes.
  • You defend this point with reasons and evidence drawn from the text. (Much like a lawyer!)
which is the best thesis statement
Which is the Best Thesis Statement?
  • Marigolds is a coming-of-age story.
  • “Marigolds” is about a girl pulling flowers out of a garden.
  • “Marigolds” is a boring short story.
  • “Marigolds” is about a poor family in the south.
  • Marigolds represent hope.
  • The setting in Colliers’ “Marigolds” becomes an additional character.
which is the best thesis statement9
Which is the Best Thesis Statement?
  • In “Marigolds,” Collier’s effective use of setting causes the reader to respond to an impoverished, Southern town as another character in her short story.
  • In Collier’s short story, “Marigolds,” the “sunny yellow” (236) marigolds symbolize hope and beauty set against a bleak setting, in which the main character, Lizabeth, discovers a sense of compassion that changes her from a child to a woman.
how do i support a thesis statement
How Do I Support a Thesis Statement?
  • Examples from the text:
    • Direct quotations
    • Summaries of scenes
    • Paraphrase
  • Other critics’ opinions
  • Historical and social context
  • Always remember to read carefully and highlight useful passages and quotes
what is a secondary source
What is a Secondary Source?
  • A book or article that discusses the text you are writing about
  • A book or article that discusses a theory related to the argument you are making
  • A book or article that discusses the social and historical context of the text you are discussing
how do i find secondary sources
How Do I Find Secondary Sources?
  • MLA International Bibliography
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography
  • Discipline-specific sources
    • Example: America: History and Life for American literature
  • Other search engines
  • A bibliography that is part of your text
  • Ask your instructor or the kind folks in the LRC
integrating secondary sources
Integrating Secondary Sources
  • When you use secondary sources, be sure to show how they relate to your thesis.
  • Don’t overuse any one secondary source, or for that matter, secondary sources in general.
  • Remember that this is your paper, your argument—the secondary sources are just helping you out
  • Never, never, never plagiarize.
overview of literary analysis
Overview of Literary Analysis

When writing a literary analysis:

  • Be familiar with literary terms
  • Analyze specific items
  • Make an a argument
  • Make appropriate use of secondary sources
  • Consult instructors and tutors for help when needed