Literary Analysis and Reflection

This assignment is divided into two parts: a literary interpretation and a reflective essay.

Literary Analysis

The literary analysis is an opportunity to approach a work of literature using some of the readings and strategies we’ve discussed this semester. Your analysis should be 5 pages long, and it should draw upon appropriate and relevant theory that we’ve encountered in the class, though you shouldn’t do outside research on the text itself.

As a number of our readings have validated alternatives to the traditional argumentative essay, you may experiment with the form of your analysis. Recalling Blau, remember that “a literary essay need not be more devoted to demonstrating the validity of a particular point of view than to illuminating and clarifying a sometimes uncertain and multidimensional reality” (180). I do ask that the end product be well-crafted, coherent, and grounded in evidentiary reasoning. Your analysis should be shaped by—if not a thesis or “controlling idea”—then at least a guiding idea that in some way produces what Scholes calls a “text upon text,” and strives for that even more elusive goal, a “text against text.”

Whatever form your interpretation takes, be sure to draw upon literary concepts and terms that are relevant to the genre of the work you select. Also be aware of the MLA guidelines for citing sources.


The reflection component of this assignment is a 2-3 page response on the work you did for your literary interpretation. Some questions you might consider (but are not obligated to consider) may go along these lines: What was the experience like? What problems did you encounter in analyzing your text and how did you solve them? What theories, processes, terms, or concepts did you use? Where did they especially help or hinder you? If you pursued a nontraditional form, what motivated you, and how did this new form liberate or constrain you? What would you have done differently?

Remember that the text you choose for this assignment is the same text you will be “teaching” for your presentation in the last weeks of class. The project is due in class on March 20 and is worth 25% of the final grade.