Writing Essays About Literature: A Guide and Style Sheet / Edition 7

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Kelley Griffith's Writing Essays about Literature is the standard guide and style sheet for interpreting and writing about literature. Flexible enough to be used in any literature course that emphasizes writing, this versatile text includes strategies for analysis and interpretation, and step-by-step instruction for planning, researching, writing, and revising literary papers.

More headings throughout the text, new "Now It's Your Turn" exercises, new close-reading "Checklists" at the end of every chapter, and a new glossary of literary terms link Griffith's approach into a single, easy-reference guide for both reading and writing about literature.

Updates to the fiction and poetry sections include revised coverage in fiction of the relationship between author and narrator, and of plot elements such as embedded and framed stories; and in poetry, of reading a poem for the first time, understanding the role of the speaker, managing difficult language, and recognizing forms such as the haiku and visual poetry.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413003956
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 5/23/2005
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 7
  • Pages: 420
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelley Griffith earned a BA from Wake Forest University and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. In his 34-year teaching career at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he taught courses in composition, American literature, English literature, European literature, and literary research. In 1996 he won the Alumni Teaching Excellence Award, UNCGreensboro's top honor for outstanding teaching. He is the author of two textbooks, Narrative Fiction: An Introduction and Anthology (Harcourt Brace, 1994) and Writing Essays about Literature: A Guide and Style Sheet (Wadsworth Cengage Learning), soon to appear in its ninth edition. Upon his retirement in 2002, he completed the Fine and Creative Woodworking Program at Rockingham Community College and now makes custom furniture. Examples of his work can be seen at www.sunburstfinewoodworking.com. He continues to be a deeply engaged reader of literature and maintains a strong interest in literary theory and pedagogy. On occasion he teaches non-credit courses at UNCG. In his new career he has been struck by how the skills required for interpreting and writing about literature mesh with those for operating a small business and making furniture. These skills include such things as analyzing complicated structures, doing research, solving problems, thinking systematically, and communicating clearly and persuasively to a general audience.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction xvii
Part 1 Interpreting Literature 1
1 Strategies for Interpreting Literature 3
Why Do People Read Literature? 3
What Is Interpretation? 4
How Do We Interpret? 6
Checklist for Interpreting Literature 9
Work Cited 9
2 What Is Literature? 11
Literature Is Language 13
Literature Is Fictional 15
Walt Whitman, Cavalry Crossing a Ford 16
Literature Is True 18
Henry Howard, Earl of Survey, My Friend, the Things that Do Attain 18
Literature Is Aesthetic 23
Literature Is Intertextual 24
Checklist for the Elements of Literature 29
Works Cited 30
3 Interpreting Fiction 31
The Elements of Fiction 31
Theme 32
Point of View 37
Mary Robison, Yours 43
Plot 44
Characterization 54
Setting 61
Irony 66
Symbolism 69
Other Elements 72
Checklist for Interpreting Fiction 72
Works Cited 74
4 Interpreting Drama 77
The Nature of Drama 77
The Elements of Drama 78
Plot 78
Characterization 85
Setting 90
Theme 94
Irony 97
Subgenres 100
Checklist for Interpreting Drama 103
Works Cited and Consulted 105
5 Interpreting Poetry 107
What Is Poetry? 107
Emily Bronte, The Night Is Darkening Round Me 108
Sense in Poetry: Elements that Convey Meaning 109
Getting Started: Reading a Poem the First Time 109
Diction 110
William Wordsworth, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal 110
Syntax 112
Louise Bogan, Song for a Lyre 114
Characterization, Point of View, Plot, and Setting 115
Jane Kenyon, In the Nursing Home 116
Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach 117
Robert Browning, My Last Duchess 120
Imagery: Descriptive Language 122
Imagery: Figurative Language 123
Samuel Daniel, Love Is a Sickness 124
Thomas Campion, There Is a Garden in Her Face 125
Symbolism 128
William Blake, The Sick Rose 129
The Sound of Poetry: Musical Elements 130
Rhythm 130
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 129 135
Word Sounds 137
Edgar Allan Poe, To Helen 138
Structure 140
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116 144
Edna St. Vincent Millay, I, Being Born a Woman 145
Anonymous, The Daemon Lover 146
Emily Dickinson, Because I Could Not Stop for Death 148
Matsuo Basho, haiku 150
Taniguchi Buson, haiku 150
Kobayashi Issa, haiku 150
Psalm 23 151
Ezra Pound, Xenia 153
Amy Lowell, Road to the Yoshiwara 154
Langston Hughes, Vagabonds 154
Elizabeth Bishop, One Art 156
Sight: The Visual Qualities of Poetry 157
George Herbert, Easter Wings 158
e.e. cummings, 1(a 159
Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool 159
Checklist for Interpreting Poetry 160
Works Cited 161
6 Specialized Approaches to Interpreting Literature 163
Literary Criticism and theory 163
Places for Interpretation 165
The Work 166
New Criticism 167
Structuralism 168
Deconstruction 172
Archetypal Criticism 174
The Author 177
Historical and Biographical Criticism 177
New Historicist Criticism 179
The Reader 183
Reader-Response Criticism 183
All of Reality 185
Marxist Criticism 186
Psychological Criticism 187
Feminist and Gender Criticism 189
Works Cited 193
Part 2 Writing about Literature 195
7 Writing about Literature 197
Why Write about Literature? 197
How Can You Write about Literature? 197
The Writing Process 199
8 Choosing Topics 201
Preliminary Steps 201
Be an Active Reader 201
Identify Your Audience 202
Raise Questions about the Work 205
Narrow Your Topic 205
Search Strategies 207
Focus on the Work's Conventions (Its Formal Qualities) 207
Use Topoi (Traditional Patterns of Thinking) 208
Respond to Comments by Critics 211
Draw from Your Own Knowledge 212
Talking and Writing Strategies 213
Talk Out Loud 213
Make Outlines 213
Freewrite 214
Brainstorm 214
Make Notes 215
Keep a Journal 216
Sample Essay about Literature 218
Michelle Henderson, "Paradise Rejected in Homer's Oddsey" 218
Comments on the Essay 225
Checklist for Choosing Topics 225
Works Cited 226
9 Drafting the Essay 227
The Argumentative Nature of Interpretive Essays 227
The Structure of Essays about Literature 228
The Argumentative Structure 229
The Rhetorical Structure 231
Guidelines for Writing First Drafts 233
Keep in Mind the Needs of Your Audience 233
Avoid Extreme Subjectivity (Overuse of "I") 234
Draw Up a Rough Outline 235
Begin Writing 236
Use Sound Deductive Reasoning 236
Support Key Claims with Facts 237
Use Sound Inductive Reasoning 238
Define Key Terms 239
Organize Evidence According to a Coherent Plan 239
Make Comparisons Complete and Easy to Follow 240
Checklist for Drafting the Essay 242
Works Cited 242
10 Revising and Editing 245
Revise Throughout the Writing Process 245
Revise for the Final Draft 245
Write a Clear and Readable Prose Style 246
Have Other People Read and Respond to Your Draft 247
Edit the Final Draft 247
Rules of Usage 247
Citations of Sources 248
Quotations 249
Other Rules of Usage Related to Essays about Literature 258
Physical Format 260
Sample Essay in Two Drafts 261
Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man 262
Early Draft 266
Comments on the Early Draft 268
Final Draft: Jennifer Hargrove, "A Comparison of Mary and Warren in Robert Frost's 'The Death of the Hired Man'" 269
Comments on the Final Draft 276
Checklist for Revising and Editing 277
Works Cited 277
11 Documentation and Research 279
Primary Sources 279
Secondary Sources 279
Research Papers and the Use of Secondary Sources 281
How to Find Information and Opinions about Literature 281
I Library Catalogs and Stacks 282
II Library Reference Room 282
III Library Periodicals Room and Stacks 292
IV Information and Opinion on the Internet 292
Evaluating the Quality of Internet Sites 297
Giving Credit to Sources 299
Why Should You Give Credit? 299
When Should You Give Credit? 299
Where Should You Give Credit? 302
Correct Documentary Form 303
Guidelines for Parenthetical Citations 304
Guidelines for Using Footnotes and Endnotes 311
Guidelines and Form for the Works Cited List: General Rules 312
Sample Entries for Books 313
Sample Entry for Articles in Scholarly Journals 317
Sample Entries for Articles in Popular Publications 317
Sample Entries for Computer Databases 318
Sample Entries for Other Nonprint Sources 324
Frequently Used Abbreviations 326
Sample Research Paper 327
Harold Wright, "The Monster's Education in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" 327
Comments on the Research Paper 344
Checklist for Documentation and Research 344
12 Taking Essay Tests 347
Guidelines for Taking Essay Tests 348
Sample Test Essays 351
Essay 1 352
Comments on Essay 1 352
Essay 2 352
Comments on Essay 2 353
Essay 3 353
Comments on Essay 3 354
Checklist for Taking Essay Tests 355
13 Sample Essays 357
Essay on a Poem 357
Edwin Arlington Robinson, Richard Cory 357
George Cannon, "Point of View in Edwin Arlington Robinson's 'Richard Cory'" 358
Essay on a Short Story 362
Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado 362
Blake Long, "Montresor's Fate in Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado'" 368
Essay on a Play 373
Susan Glaspell, Trifles 373
Carolyn Briner, "The Meaning of Physical Objects in Susan Glaspell's Trifles" 385
Essay on a Novel 391
Shalita Forrest, "First Love, Lost Love in George Eliot's Adam Bede" 392
Glossary 399
Credits 415
Index of Concepts and Terms 417
Index of Critics, Authors, and Works 424
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2006

    Could be better

    Griffith's text is useful for the explanatory sections about literary genres, but she fails to explain proper analytical techniques for college-level students. The 'sample' essays are not meant for college students (many of my intro-level students laughed at the writing quality), and I often have to tell my class to ignore huge passages of her writing guidelines (like the use of 'me' and 'I' in critical essays). It's not a bad text, but there are better ones. Why take the trouble of verbally correcting the text when there are others out there that don't need in-class qualification?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

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