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Literary criticism analyzes fiction, poetry, drama and some types of non-fiction by considering key issues such as plot, character, setting, theme, imagery, and voice. Literary criticism may also consider the effectiveness of a work of literature, but it’s important to note that in this context the word “criticism” doesn’t simply mean finding fault with the writing but rather looking at it from a critical or analytical viewpoint in order to understand it better.
In a 5 – 7 page essay, students will analyze Julia Alvarez’s Before We Were Free and write a literary critique based on one of schools of literary theory below:
Marxism – which emphasizes themes of class conflict
New Historicism – which examines the work through its historical context and seeks to understand cultural and intellectual history through literature
Gender (see feminist literary criticism too) – which emphasizes themes of gender relations
Formalism – a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text
Or any other school of thought from this list of Literary Theories (Links to an external site.) and/or Critical Theories (Links to an external site.).
This essay should be thesis-driven and have a clear answer to the “so what” question. By analyzing the novel through your literary theory, what is revealed? What conclusion can be made about the novel based on your close reading and interpretation of the text? Answering these questions will help you develop your thesis.
Students will need to integrate two to four outside sources into this essay.
These sources must come from the SCC library, SCC online databases, the textbook, or from Purdue Owl.
I recommend you begin with SCC’s LITERARY databases (Links to an external site.) first!
These sources can be about the novel specifically, literary criticism, the genre broadly, the author, literary elements, or anything that will add complexity to your analysis.
I recommend you contact Linda Martin our SCC Librarian for help gathering your sources Martin_Linda@sccollege.edu. Please keep in mind that the librarians do not work on the weekends.
Students will complete an Annotated Bibliography (like an extended Works Cited page) to help them prepare for this essay. This assignment will be introduced in week 12 of the semester.
Use a clear organizational structure.
Your audience is our class and professor, but you still need to spend some time summarizing key ideas, defining any terms, and choosing quotes/paraphrases from the texts.
Talk about complexities; avoid oversimplifying your ideas or the ideas from the reading.
Take the time to proofread after you’ve written your essay. Think about the kinds of mistakes you know you tend to make and watch out for those.
Give yourself enough time to visit the Writing Center online. If you know you have trouble with some aspect of your writing, give yourself time to visit the Writing Center multiple times before submitting your final draft. Remember you get EXTRA CREDIT for doing so!
Finally, here is a sample student essay from a former student. I’ll link it here in a PDF Download PDF, a Word Download Word, and a Google Doc (Links to an external site.).
How will I be graded?
Did I answer the “so what” question and fully critique and analyze the novel?
Did I purposeful include the outside sources to add complexity to my ideas?
Did I integrate (quotes/paraphrases) into my paper?
Did I write my paper in perfect MLA format?
Did I properly cite my source in the paper and on the Works Cited page?
Did I write my paper in 3rd person point-of-view?
Is my writing proofread carefully for grammatical errors and/or typos?
Is my essay 5 FULL pages? No more than 7 pages? Note: Papers that are not at least 5 FULL pages will not receive a grade higher than a “C.” Do not write more than 7 pages.
DISCOUNT CODE FIRST25