Literary Analysis

For this short assignment (700-1000 words), you should analyze one of our literary readings from last week: the Gay or Ellis story or one of Kelly’s poems 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. We’re also interested in Burke’s understanding of “orientation,” so we want to get at the author’s orientation and how the text embodies judgments, beliefs, and attitudes. Toward this end, your work and writing should address the following prompts and questions.

  • First, pick one of the readings, and then find a passage in the reading that you think is important (even if you’re not entirely sure why it’s important yet).
  • What’s going on in this passage? What is it about, and how does it shape our thinking about this subject matter? What sort of orientation does it take toward the subject matter? How do specific word choices shape our understanding of the author’s thinking and orientation?
  • How does this passage contribute to the text overall? 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.