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Analyzing Literature

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Teresa Lambe

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of Analyzing Literature

In 15 Brief and Easy Steps How To Analyze Literature You know how your teacher says,
"Write a paragraph (or an essay, or a book-length paper, or a screen play, or whatever) about a piece of literature?" Sentence Structure Try to find (or spy) the diameter-- just kidding: the length-- of sentences. Pace Is the writing heavily descriptive, with the emphasis on setting and atmosphere, or does it focus on action and movement? And then you're all like, "I'm going to DIE if I have to write this essay! I have NO IDEA where to start! My head is going to explode and the universe is going to implode!" Well, if you'll give me your ears for the next few minutes, I'll give you 15 ways to analyze a piece of literature... And until the night before the deadline, you feel the essay staring at you, guilting you, boring holes into the back of your head, stalking you, upsetting your daily routine of texting, Teen Mom 2, and Skittles.... just being a big old meanie... Have no fear: SUPER TEACHER is here! Each of the elements won't apply to EVERY text, but they're a good place to start! Expansive or Economical Diction Is the writing like a a well-formed cinnamon roll, tightly wound and full of tasty goodness? (That would be "tight" writing.) Vocabulary Are the words simple or fancy? Figures of Speech You may be clearly confused but I'm actually
NOT going to tell you anything on this slide yet.... Use of Dialogue Does the dialogue tell the story? Character Development Character development is one of the most obvious ways authors tell their stories, yet it's also often one of the things we overlook when we're analyzing texts. Point of View Does the point of view influence the story--
or does the story determine the point of view? Word Color / Word Sound Are the words nuggets of gold, giving insights into the book? Tone Tone is the author's attitude towards the characters and events in the story. Paragraph / Chapter Structure Are the paragraphs short? Are the paragraphs enormous blocks of text? Time sequencing / Chronology Are they in order of time or are the events presented out of sequence? Experimentation in language Sometimes it's a little scary to read something by an author who's experimenting with language... Allusions Allusions are references to other works outside the one you're reading... Reading reflectively is a reasonable, rational, resourceful, and responsible thing to do -- so, under each category we talk about today, you'll see questions that you can use to spur your thinking. Are the sentences long or short?
Why do they change? Any fragments? Are there any sidebars or interruptions? Is the word order staightforward or does it sound like Yoda's talking? Sidebar to that: Oh wonderful Prezi, you sure are amazing. I've only been at this about twenty minutes and you're a tremendous help. Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you in my life, Prezi. It pace to pay attention to the speed of the text.... Or is it loosey goosey like cotton candy or a mound of linguine noodles? (That would be "long winded" writing.) Are things buzzing and dripping or sibilating and exuding? Do we see the whole conversation or just fragments? Does the conversation use slang or is it formal? How much does the dialogue advance the story or does the narration do more of the telling of the story? I'm sure authors have to think about that... First person- I
Second person- you
Third person- he / she / it
Omniscient- sees thoughts / feelings of all characters
Limited omniscient- sees thoughts of some

The unreliable narrator is a narrator who doesn't have what we consider an entirely truthful or completely unbiased approach to telling the tale... Basically: you can't trust that any first person narrator (and lots of other narrators) are telling the Truth with a capital T. How does the author introduce characters and how do we see their evolution in the story? What kinds of characters are they?
Round?
Stereotypes?
Caricatures? Does the sound of the words draw attention to them? Why? They may stretch the truth... Is it... Bitter? Aggressive? Hopeful? Ironic? Or something else? Are the chapters long or short? How many chapters are there and how are they organized? Sometimes presenting events out of order actually reveals more about the events than presenting them in order might... How has the author organized the chronology of events? To what effect? What is the structural rhythm of the book? So you can write about it and impress your English teacher... Like if an author talks about a flood, it's probably an allusion to the Biblical story of Noah, the ark, and the flood. Pretty much EVERY allusion comes from the Bible or Shakespeare.... Except for the ones that don't.... It may sound like Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man... Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo

His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.

He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.
That's just a little tricky to understand... But really, in the words of Debbie Boone:
"It can't be wrong if it feels so right." Metafictional
Techniques Does the author call attention to his/her own narration? Does the author mention his/her role in the story explicitly? addressing readers directly commenting on the story while telling the story Telling a story within a story Having a character who is both a character AND the narrator Next time your mean old English teacher makes an assignment to write about literature, take out this list... USE IT... impress him/her with your brilliance and make others jealous. I know what you all are thinking... That presentation wasn't half bad... Guess what? There's more.... Take a deep breath... My brain hurts just thinking about it...
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