Reading Review

Goal: To Compose a short literary analysis essay of either “O Xiang Xue” or “Ancestor”; during this week, do your best to write a first draft that uses one of the suggested analytical approaches shown below and is at least 5 paragraphs long

1. Before beginning to write your draft, view this tutorial video: How Do I Write a Literary Essay? (video lesson)

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2. Pre-writing: Do some pre-writing/brain-storming/mind-mapping to generate some ideas about your topic for your Essay 1 on your selected story from from our Essay 1 Course Folder. For your essay to be successful, it will need to have a focus and purpose. Your essay should express your opinions/interpretations of the story, using evidence/examples/quotes from the story to support your ideas.

Regarding Research: Using research to learn some possible answers about your selected story is encouraged but not required. Try to develop your own ideas about the story without using research at first. Then, if you wish, use research to get possible answers and ideas about your story that you may wish to include in your final draft. As always, if you use research, make sure to create works cited page and in-text citations in the MLA style and format.

Choose a method or approach: As you reflect on the story and consider what its topic, focus, and purpose might be, it may be helpful to review and reflect on some of the time-tested methods of literary analysis. Ideally, you will choose one of these methods and your essay’s introduction will let the reader know which method/approach is being used. The time-tested methods of literary analysis include the following:

a.) Thematic analysis: For this type of essay, your thesis will hypothesize what you consider to be the theme/meaning/message of the story and the body paragraphs of your essay will focus on supporting material that supports your thesis about the theme.

b.) Character analysis: This type of essay will develop an analytical perspective (your opinion(s) about the personality and actions of the story’s main character (or possibly two or three characters, if their actions are closely intertwined). The purpose of this type of essay is help the reader of your essay better understand why the character(s) behaved as they did; how were they changed by their actions or events of the story; what lessons did the character or the reader (or both) learn from the actions and events of the story.

c.) Plot analysis: This web-page with video explains the basics of plot analysis: Plot Analysis: Example & Overview (webpage & video)

d.) Setting Analysis: This type of essay focuses on analyzing the setting and/or description of the setting of the story to develop a thesis statement with the purpose of explaining how the author’s representation/depiction/portrayal of the setting contributes the development of some aspect of the story, such as it character(s), plot, conflict, theme, or message.

e.) Historical criticism: This type of essay focuses on learning about historical period in which the story takes place. The purpose of this essay is to show how learning more about the history surrounding the story and depicted in the story contributes to the reader’s overall understanding of the story.

f.) Biographical criticism: This type of essay involves doing some research about the story’s author and making connections between the author’s life and some aspects of the story (plot, character(s), conflict, plot, setting, theme, etc. The purpose of this type of essay is to show how better understanding the life of the author can contribute to the reader’s understanding of the story. To be successful, this method must both compare and contrast. Simply arguing that the story was based on the author’s life experiences is an over-simplification. It’s important to show how the author not only used life experience to write the story, but also show how the author may have transformed or changed biographical elements in the story.

g.) Reader Response-Question-based: This type of essay focuses on a question or a few related question that the reader has about the story. In the essay, the reader will explore and postulate an answer or a few alternative answers to the question(s) and in the conclusion evaluate the possible answers and attempt to explain what is the best possible answer and or answers to the question and how they contribute to the reader’s overall understanding of the story.


Week 4 (M2/1– F2/5)

Goal: Format your essay in the MLA format* and continue to revise and edit your essay 1 draft

*To receive a grade of “A,” your essays’ MLA format must be perfect. To learn how to achieve MLA format in MSWord, view the following video tutorial: MLA Format in Word (video tutorial)

Another useful MLA format guide is this: MLA Essay Format Sample & Guide

1) Make improvements to your essay 1 draft to make sure that it is well-developed and complete. A sample outline of a short literary analysis essay is:

I. Introductory Paragraph:
a. Begin with an interesting quote or fact about your topic. Or open your essay with a question.
b. State your essay’s topic, purpose, analytical method, or theme
c. Perhaps include a short list of the topics and to be discussed in the body of the essay

II. Body Paragraph 1:
a. topic sentence (tells the topic and purpose of the paragraph
b. 1-2 sentences to introduce supporting material
c. 1 or more examples of the subject of this paragraph
d. Your concluding comments on this paragraph (possibly setting up a transition to the next paragraph)

III. Body Paragraph 2:
(similar to Body Paragraph 1)

IV. Body Paragraph 3:
(similar to Body Paragraph 1)

V. Concluding Paragraph:
a. Summarize main points
b. Possibly re-state your essay’s theme or thesis
c. Tell what you think was the writer’s intended meaning, message, or purpose for writing the story
c. Add any final thought or thoughts (remaining points of interest or information you want to share with the reader about your topic.

Week 5 (M2/8 – F2/12)

Goal: Editing, Proofreading, and Preparing to submit your final draft of literary analysis #1 to be be graded:

Some useful tips for editing your essay draft are:

1. Use the Times New Roman 12 point font.

2. Avoid using the personal “I” or using such phrases as, “In my my opinion” or ” from my point-of-view.” Simply state your opinion. Unless you are quoting or citing another person, the reader will understand that what you are stating is your opinion because you are the author of the essay.

3. Do not you use the 2nd person voice/2nd person usages in your essay. These include the words: you, your, yours, we, us, and ours. Instead, use descriptive third person nouns and noun phrases; this will make your writing more precise and descriptive. If in your essay you are hypothesizing about how any reader might react to the story, instead of saying “you” feel or think this, you can say, “the reader” thinks or feels this or that.

4. After composing your first draft, give your essay an interesting title that includes the topic of your essay, the short story’s title, and the author’s name. Example: “A Girl Comes of Age in “O Xiangxue” by Tie Ning.” (Tip: Always put quotation marks around the titles of essays written by others but not around the titles of your own essay that you are preparing to turn in).

5. Please do not exceed the length requirements of each essay. Edit your essays to conform to the length requirement. Writing a longer essay will not necessarily cause you to get a better grade. If your essay is not proofread carefully, it can contain more mistakes, actually causing your score to be lower. A well composed and organized five paragraph essay can earn an “A.”

6. Editing & Proofreading: GSU Perimeter offers many tools and services to help students improve the quality of their written work before submitting written assignments to be graded. These include:

a. MSWord’s grammar & spellcheck tools
b. Grammarly, the editing and proofreading software which GSU provides free for students: Use Grammarly: Create Your Account
c. GSU Perimeter’s Online Writing Lab: Learning & Tutoring Center: GSU Online Writing Lab: Learning & Tutoring Center

Submit your Essay 1: literary analysis of selected story from the essay 1 course folder no later than Sunday, 2/21 at 11pm*. Access the assignment virtual folder–called a “dropbox” by clicking on the the “Assignments” link found under the “Assessments” tab at the top of our iCollege main page or by clicking on the active link here:

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