Write a ~1000 word critical analysis of one of the stories we read last week. Do not merely summarize the story (re-read Trimble’s essay “How to Write a Critical Analysis” for more on this); rather, attempt to show how and explore why an author creates a “desired effect” in his/her short story. There are many ways to go about this, but one approach is to select two or three of the “Terms Used in Literary Analysis” and analyze how they function in a specific story. You may also focus on one or two terms and compare/contrast how they work in two of the stories.

This essay is worth 50 points. What I’m looking for, primarily, is that you understand the fundamental approach we’re taking here in 1B: that stories can be dissected and analyzed by scrutinizing their component parts and showing your reader how those parts contribute to the story’s meaning or overall effect. To do this you will have to come up with a strong interpretive assertion about the text, which you should express in a clear thesis statement at the end of your opening paragraph. See the “Outline” file posted in this week’s assignment block for specific instructions on a good way to construct a thesis statement and to structure this first essay.

Some additional notes:

-Be sure to read over the other essay-related files presented in this week’s assignment block before you start writing.

– Give your essay an original title (not just “Essay 1” or “Critical Analysis”). The way most English teachers like titles is to try to use a colon, so something like: “Plots Are For Dead People: Analyzing Lorrie Moore’s Syntax and Sarcasm.”

– Please double space your text, use a 12 point font, and include your name and the date you last worked on the essay in the upper left hand corner of each draft you submit.

– You are not required to use outside research for this essay, but if you do want to include sources, you must cite them according to MLA standards and include a Works Cited page at the end of your essay. See the link in this week’s assignment block for a reference guide to all formatting and citation questions.

– As Trimble stresses in his essay, as an analyst you must assume that your reader already knows the story, so you don’t need to recount the plot unless it’s necessary to make an analytical point.

– Periods and commas go inside quotation marks, like this: ,” .” unless you have a citation at the end of a quote, like this: “quote quote” (Moore). Also, avoid floating quotes by integrating each quote into the syntax of your own sentence. A quote from a source should never stand alone as its own sentence in your essay.

– Be sure to use the “literary present” when discussing works of fiction (see Trimble’s essay for more on this).

– A formal critical essay should not be an account of how you experienced the text in question–it should be an analysis of the text and an explication of how the author “achieves a desired effect” in a given story. To that end, replace “I felt” statements with “the author makes us feel” and see how that small adjustment alters the tone and critical perspective of your essay. It should move it away from being an informal response paper—the kind of in-class writing teachers might make you do to see if you’ve read the text—and closer to genuine critical analysis.

 
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