Reading literary texts: analyzing the relationship between form and content

Reading literary texts: analyzing the relationship between form and content


Task goals:

This task requires you to demonstrate and develop the following skills:
Read literary texts carefully
Identify literary features
Explain how literary features create meaning
Identify and use appropriate resources to help read the text
Produces substantial, well-written, and challenging reading

Each student must write an essay that analyzes the relationship between form and content (that is, how the text conveys meaning). You have one of two options:

1. Check my comment on the first annotation task and correct the perusal accordingly. This option requires a significant expansion and development of the initial perusal while addressing my concerns/comments. Specifically, you should create a focused argument or paper to structure your essay. Please note: A marked version of the annotation assignment (including tables, etc.) must be submitted along with the perusal. If you don’t do this, the assignment will be considered incomplete and given a zero.

2. Select a short story from the syllabus that you have never written before (you could also write about “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “Part-Time Her Indian Diary of Absolute Truth” if you feel like it). Read the text again to establish your argument and choose a significant passage of at least six of her sentences to comment on. Follow the guidelines described in the previous task. Then create a diagram that relates your observations about that passage to the work as a whole. Once you have completed your annotations/diagrams, write a detailed essay analyzing the relationship between form and content of your chosen text (i.e. how the text conveys meaning). As with Option #1, you should create a focused argument or paper to structure your essay. Note: Comments are required (but not evaluated). If you don’t do this, the assignment will be considered incomplete and given a zero. To prepare your thesis essay, read Chapters 6 through 9 of How to Write a Literary Essay. Note that Acheson uses the term thesis statement to refer to the introductory part of the essay, and the last sentence of the thesis statement states the argument or argument underlying the essay.

As before, you can use all available resources to help with this task, but don’t connect to the internet. If possible, this task should only concern you and the text. If you think your argument needs further investigation, please come to me first.

Unlike the previous annotation task, when grading mini-essays, we put even more emphasis on the validity and accuracy of your reading while ensuring an honest and thoughtful approach to the text. Note that there are several valid ways to read and look up text. Make sure the text supports your reading, and try to derive answers from the text rather than imposing preconceptions on it.

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