Literary Analysis

For this short assignment (500-800 words), you should analyze one of our literary readings: the Gay or Ellis story or a Kelly or Frost poem or a haiku.

Our efforts toward analysis here should aim for “closeness” as Frost understands the term. We want to better understand this author’s thinking, how they put this and that together, how they say one thing in terms of another. Like Nabokov, we want to fondle the details to feel in our spines what sort of world the author has created. Toward this end, your work and writing should address the following prompts and questions.

  • First, pick one of the readings, and then find some aspect of the text – an image, a passage, a sentence, a word, a pattern of words or images – that you think is important (even if you’re not sure why it’s important yet).
  • What’s going on in this aspect of the text? Why is this particular use of language significant? How is the author using language in a particular way? How does it shape our orientation toward and understanding of the text?
  • How does this passage contribute to the text overall? How does it help create the world of the text? How does it work to support a theme, idea, or effect of the text?

Again, our goal here is closeness, so you should thoroughly and precisely explain what aspects of the passage are important and how so. We should end up with a better understanding of what the passage is about and how it contributes to the text overall.