The Literary Criticism
There are several different formats for writing the literary criticism. This particular composition requires interpretive thinking.
When preparing to write your literary criticism, formulate a question about the literary selection for which you would genuinely like to have an answer. Through a close reading of the piece, investigate the evidence which could answer this question. Draw conclusions from this evidence and formulate an answer.
Before you begin, develop questions that you may have about the reading. These questions should be interpretive in nature. To do this you must reflect on the meaning of what you have read, read certain passages again, and think about certain interpretive problems that you will want to explore. You can test whether your questions are interpretive by trying to come up with two different answers. An interpretive question calls for higher-order thinking. It cannot be answered with a simple yes or no or even a recall-like answer.
You should create a title for your essay and follow the format required for literary criticism.
Literary Criticism: Format
A. Introduction: The introduction will announce your topic by posing a question and indicating its significance.
1. You should attempt to make the reader receptive by showing the topic to be interesting and important.
2. You should show that the question being posed concerns a point worth arguing: one that is significant, controversial, or not easily resolved.
3. You should state the procedure by which the question is to be investigated. (Caution: Do NOT use the first person I or we.)
4. Write in the active voice. (Use present tense and avoid helping and linking verbs.)
B. Background Information
1. This paragraph helps the reader understand and appreciate the significance of the argument that is to follow.
2. You may present information about the author and/or times if it is relevant to your topic.
3. Rarely will you need to summarize the entire plot.
4. You may present other arguments which you plan to refute.
C. The Investigation
1. This portion of your paper will perform the investigation of the question which you posed in the introduction.
2. At this time you will attempt to offer a "reading" of your work, that is, to explain the meaning of the text by examining its parts.
3. The point of a "reading" is to work through the literary text and to show its lines of development in light of your question. FOCUS on only those facts or ideas which relate to your topic.
4. The investigation should be two or more paragraphs in length.
D. The Answer to the Question
1. In this section of your paper you will formally answer the question which posed in the introduction of your paper.
2. In other words, you will draw a conclusion from the various points made in your investigation.
3. This answer, in essence, is your thesis statement.
4. You may refute other arguments here or in the conclusion.
E. The Conclusion
1. This paragraph is usually a "graceful" addition with some sort of recapitulation of your ideas.
2. Here you may want to reassert the essay's thesis and perhaps refocus the reader's attention on especially compelling evidence.
3. To be effective, this part of your essay should be a brief and vigorous effort to win your reader over to your point of view.
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Literary Criticism Grading Rubric
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