Blues literature

For the first literary analysis paper rouft draft  are to be written 2 pages… Read the instruction and talk to me. 

  

Thanks 


CREATIVERESEARCH PROJECT and SHORT LITERARY ANALYSIS PAPER

Although these 2 assignments are informal, they comprise a significant portion of the course grade. The Short Literary Analysis Paper (20%) and the Creative Research Project (20%) both ask students to apply and demonstrate the literary analysis and critical thinking skills that you have honed throughout the semester.


SHORT, INFORMAL LITERARY ANALYSIS PAPER

This short, informal literary analysis paper assignment invites students to explore a broad theme or reflection topic from 1 or 2 of the literary texts that we have studied together in depth in our course. Students will select one of the optional paper topics to write about. Each paper topic focuses on a particular theme or issue in a literary work(s).

Students will take a very focused and simple approach to writing about this broad thematic topic. You will select only 1 or 2 short passages or excerpts that you believe relate to the broader topic question. For the majority of this informal, short paper, your writing will demonstrate the “close reading” skills you have gained this semester by explaining how you analyze these passages. Students should also clearly explain a few simple connections you have identified between your “close reading” observations of the shorter passages and the broader paper topic.

The purpose and structure of this short informal literary analysis paper most closely resembles that of the “Response Paper” genre of student writing:

A response paper is a great opportunity to practice your close reading skills without having to develop an entire argument. In most cases, a solid approach is to select a rich passage that rewards analysis (for example, one that depicts an important scene or a recurring image) and close read it. While response papers are a flexible genre, they are not invitations for impressionistic accounts of whether you liked the work or a particular character. Instead, you might use your close reading to raise a question about the text—to open up further investigation, rather than to supply a solution

From Harvard College Writing Center Brief Guide Series “A Brief Guide to Writing the English Paper”

Please note: For this paper, you do
NOT
have to include most of the typical elements of a longer, formal college English literary analysis paper, such as:

* a well-developed “argument” that ties into one overarching interpretation of the work

* detailed analysis of numerous sections of a literary text (or texts)

* organizing /marshaling all “close readings” to support a massive, complex project/argument.

In organizing your ideas (pre-writing), writing and revising this short paper, you will use the literary analysis skills you practiced and developed this semester:

1. Choose one of the optional paper topics for our course section.

2. Select an appropriate passage or passages from the literary work that relate to the paper

topic you plan to write about.

a. Use critical thinking to make connections between what is happening on the “micro”

level of the passage and how that fits in with the broader themes and ideas in the literary work as a whole

b. Suggested / approximate lengths of selected passages:

Fiction: one or two passages of prose (totaling up to 3 pages)

Drama: a scene excerpt or portion of 2 scenes (again, no more than 3 pages)

Poetry/Blues lyrics: lines or stanza excerpts related to paper topic (varied

lengths, but generally no more than 2 pages)

3. Apply “close reading” skills to analyze your selected passages

a. Identify special uses of figurative language and/or sonic elements

b. Think about how the language in this passage “works” to communicate the meaning

c. Consider how the smaller “parts” of each excerpt contribute to the tone, mood, ideas

and overall theme of this short passage.

4. In clear, grammatically correct prose, explain what you have learned through your “close

reading” of the selected passage(s).

a. When appropriate, use specific literary terminology to name the literary devices used.

b. Describe how the language in this passage “works” to communicate meaning.

c. Explain how the smaller “parts” of each excerpt contribute to the tone, mood, ideas

and overall theme of this short passage.

5. Revisit your initial “connections” between the passage(s) you selected for close reading and

the broader paper topic. Revise your draft as appropriate.

a. Identify any changes or complications that have developed in your thinking about the

broader paper topic or theme after your close reading of the select passage(s).

b. Where necessary, add sentences, transition phrases, or a paragraph at the end to

account for your more nuanced understanding of the “connections” between the short passage(s) you analyzed and the literary work as a whole.

*** Remember: Flexible and exploratory thinking is good! You don’t need to “prove” any single argument for this paper! ***


Optional Paper Topics: Summary

* This page is a summary overview of the optional paper topics and questions.

* Each optional paper topic has its own expanded page (see below). For your convenience, those expanded pages also include

1. introductory/background statements

2. more detailed and expanded “sub questions” and

3. helpful hints/tips for tackling each paper topic option.


Optional Paper Topic:
Blues Lyrics

Choose 2 – 3 thematically or topically connected blues lyrics (from our packet) and put them

into “conversation” with each other. Which specific shared topic or “link” in these 2 or 3 pieces

do you plan to write about? How are the poems or songs similar in their treatment of this topic?

In what ways do they differ?

To address this comparative paper topic, you’ll first need to consider the questions below for each individual blues lyric you analyze: [See expanded “sub questions” below.]


Optional Paper Topic:
Fences – August Wilson

In what ways does Troy Maxson fit the classification of a “tragic hero”? On the other hand, in

what ways is Troy Maxson a “realistic” hero who reflects the social, historic and cultural context

in which Fences is set?

* How might these choices to characterize Troy Maxon in this way fit in with and support August Wilson’s broader project in the “Pittsburgh Cycle” plays? How might this characterization challenge or complicate the playwrights goals?

Optional Paper Topic:

Their Eyes Were Watching God — Zora Neale Hurston

A great writer can be the voice of a generation. What kind of voice (or voices) does Hurston

employ and why would she use a novel to express this voice? What does her voice reveal

about her generation? Is it still relevant?

Is Their Eyes Were Watching God primarily concerned with the experiences of those living in

specific – and unusual — cultural communities? Or with the unique gendered perspective

represented through Janie? Or does the novel actual center on universal human questions and

themes? What do you think was Hurston’s most important message and why might have she

chosen to convey this in a fictional novel rather than a speech or essay?

Blues Lyrics
Blues lyrics are rooted in a rich set of African American oral traditions that simultaneously celebrate “borrowing” (repetition) and “riffing” (creative variation and improvisational development). This paradox exists on both the level of the form (or structure) of the blues and on the level of content (topics & themes).

As a musical form, the blues contain many obvious examples of structural “sameness,” or repetition. Most blues lyrics follow one of the common rhyme scheme patterns while the music generally adheres to common chord progressions. Different stanzas or “verses” cover new ground, but these are almost always interspersed with repeated lines and “chorus”. In practice, blues musicians frequently “cover” each other’s songs. And blues lyrics often include recurring tropes, images, metaphors or cultural allusions.

Originally, these recurring poetic devices reflected specific historical and social experiences shared by many African Americans – including the first great blues musicians — in the early 20th century. Over time, these same metaphors, tropes, images and allusions came to be understood as part of a shared Blues heritage; even musicians from different cultures and those born much later historically “draw upon” these elements when crafting new blues songs.

Yet even as this collection of shared tropes reminds us that the Blues emerged from a particular cultural group and historical context, these same devices are used to explore “universal” human themes. The enduring appeal of the Blues – and their widespread influence on other musical genres – is largely due to the “familiar” stories their lyrics tell and the common, deeply-felt emotions so eloquently expressed in Blues songs.


Option:
Choose 2 – 3 thematically or topically connected blues lyrics (from our

packet) or blues poems (by Langston Hughes) and put them into “conversation” with each other. Which specific shared topic or “link” in these 2 or 3 pieces do you plan to write about? How are the poems or songs similar in their treatment of this topic? In what ways do they differ?

To address this comparative paper topic, you’ll first need to consider the questions below for each blues lyric you analyze:

How does this particular Blues lyric or poem depict and explore the topic at hand? What poetic devices are used in this lyric to describe or address the topic you have chosen? What sonic elements are used and what do they emphasize? How do these sonic elements contribute to the overall tone and mood of the lyric? What is the position or attitude of the singer or song towards the topic?

Is the “linked” topic you have identified the central theme or “argument” (aka “take-away lesson”) of this particular song? Or is this topic only referenced in passing? Alternately, is this “linking topic” assumed as the basis of another theme, but not explicitly developed in the song?

Hints / Tips:

* Whenever possible, be sure to identify appropriate examples of unusual diction (word choice), striking syntax (grammar) and figurative language (metaphors, similes, images, personification, etc.).

* However, don’t name every single poetic device used in the songs/poems you analyze. Instead, focus only on those that are used in relation to the “topic” you have chosen.

* Review class notes and your earlier blues “theme” essay homework to solidify your understanding of the difference between “theme” and “topic”.

* Keep in mind our class discussion – and the ideas above – about “difference in sameness”. Wherever you see repetition in a Blues song (repeated word, phrase, line or verse/chorus) — try to identify how the repeated element is changed or developed over the course of the poem or song.

Fences – August Wilson

August Wilson’s award winning play Fences is the best known drama from his ambitious “Pittsburg Cycle” — a series of 10 plays that represent African American experiences over the span of a century (one play per decade). Fences stages the experiences of an African American family from the late 1950s through the early 1960s.

Numerous critics have described the main character of Fences – Troy Maxson – as a larger-than-life “tragic hero”, similar to those found in classical and mythic drama. On the other hand, many have noted that Troy is depicted in accurate, hyper-realistic detail throughout the play. Troy’s life experiences, manners and “authentic” speech patterns resemble those of other black men of his generation, who were shaped by similar social contexts and historic events.


Option:
In what ways does Troy Maxson fit the classification of a “tragic hero”? On

the other hand, in what ways is Troy Maxson a “realistic” hero who reflects the social, historic and cultural context in which Fences is set?

* How might these choices to characterize Troy Maxon in this way fit in with and support August Wilson’s broader project in the “Pittsburgh Cycle” plays? How might this characterization challenge/complicate the playwrights goals?

* Especially consider how “radical” it was to put black experiences – literally — “center stage” in a society the playwright considered to be still stifled by quiet racism.

Hints / Tips
Successful papers on this drama topic will do the following:

1. Include an accurate literary definition of the “tragic hero” and briefly explain his or her major characteristics

* For this, you may refer to our notes from class on “tragic hero”, some of which are archived on Bb. Alternately, you may cite a definition/description of the “tragic hero” in a reliable literature textbook or dictionary/glossary of literary terms.

2. Formulate a tentative hypothesis of where Troy Maxon falls on the spectrum of the classical/mythic “tragic hero” vs. “hyper-realistic protagonist”.

* Specifically, you’ll need to explicitly identify what you think are Troy Maxon’s heroic qualities, “tragic flaw”, his downfall, effect on the other characters, etc.

* Likewise, you’ll need to state the ways in which Troy Maxon is staged very much as a “realistic” / historical “man of his time” – or even as the “anti-hero” type common in other 20th century realist American dramas (Death of a Salesman, A Streetcar Named Desire, etc.)

3. Choose 1 or 2 scenes in Fences that showcase the aspects of Troy’s personality, speech, behavior and actions that you have identified as related to his dominant character traits (whether as ‘tragic hero’, ‘realistic protagonist’, or both).

4. For your close reading of the scene excerpt(s) depicting Troy Maxon: In addition to noting common poetic devices (ex: metaphors, figurative language, unusual diction, etc.), your paper should name and discuss at least a few of the genre elements specific to drama:

For example: Stage directions regarding character description/appearance or indicated gestures; delivery of speeches.

* Extra points for solid analysis of the performance-based theatrical conventions in Fences —
songs, dance, lighting/set design, etc.

Their Eyes Were Watching God — Zora Neale Hurston

Reflection on the overall novel “as a spokesperson for her generation and specific cultural community:

Option:
“A great writer can be the voice of a generation. What kind of voice (or voices) does Hurston employ and why would she use a novel to express this voice? What does her voice reveal about her generation? Is it still relevant? What do you think was Hurston’s most important message and why might have she chosen to convey this in a fictional novel rather than a speech or essay?

Some related “sub-questions” to consider when thinking through the broader topic above: Is Their Eyes Were Watching God primarily concerned with the experiences of those living in specific – and unusual — cultural communities? Or with the unique gendered perspective represented through Janie? Or does the novel actual center on universal human questions and themes?

* More details on this option are forthcoming.

Revising Tips for Literary Analysis Assignments

Throughout the semester, we have “studied a selection of literary works of different genres” (poetry, drama, short fiction, novel, etc.) and for each major genre introduced you have “received instruction in the literary terminology/vocabulary necessary for an informed discussion of literary features of texts”.

Your performance on various quizzes and short written assignments demonstrate that you have “developed some basic, analytical reading and writing skills relevant to the study of literature in general”. Moreover, from the caliber of your small group and our full-class discussions, it’s clear to me that you have “become more comfortable with and adept at reading, analyzing, and thinking about literature” over the course of the semester.

I have designed this “tip sheet” to help you further refine your critical thinking and persuasive writing skills – particularly for short written assignments where you analyze literature. (In our class, these include short essays, informal journal entries, etc.). Even though these tips are targeted to literary analysis writing assignments, some of them may prove useful for other courses that require critical thinking and persuasive writing skills.


Proofreading, Editing and Revision Tips

In general, writing assignments require three stages of student work:

I. Pre-Writing (gathering notes, jotting down ideas, making an outline, etc.)

II. Drafting (writing out your main points in sentence and paragraph form).

III. Editing (print out draft and review your writing in 3 stages):

1. Proofreading/marking BASIC ERRORS (grammar, spelling, wrong words, etc.)

2. Editing for ORGANIZATION and LITERARY ANALYSIS ELEMENTS (quotes/specific textual examples, explanation of your ideas and interpretations)

3. Revising for CLARITY and STYLE

IV. Make changes*

* Then, of course, go back to your saved draft & make the changes accomplished on paper in the document (RE-SPELL CHECK new changes and SAVE/Print/Upload, etc.)

***Don’t skip the crucial 3-part editing phase and lose credibility for your otherwise great ideas in the paper!***

Here are a few things to consider as you edit and revise draft material. (I recommend that you print out your complete rough draft to do these edits.):

1. Proofread carefully so that your writing is clear and free of significant grammatical errors.

· One of the best ways to do this is to read the entire essay or journal entry aloud—slowly—to catch grammatical mistakes; then make corrections as you go.

A few common grammatical issues to look for and fix, if needed:

· Subject-verb agreement – Subject and verb should match: plural-plural (“they go”),

singular-singular (he goes).

· Verb tense agreement – Verbs in the same sentence/paragraph should be in the same tense

(all past tense or all present tense)

· Run on sentences – Unnecessarily long sentences are hard to understand. Split these up

with a semi-colon or a period.

Be sure to adjust pronoun references to the author, so that your pronoun reflects the correct gender.

· In 20th C. American Women Writers, ALL of the authors should be referred to as “she” not “he”.

2. Editing for Organization / Literary Analysis

· Double check each allusion or reference you mention (for example ‘Meinkampf’ in “Daddy”, etc.).

· It’s possible to look these up, so while in a freewrite or very rough draft you might just be speculating, there’s no reason not to confirm specific meanings whenever possible. It will strengthen your overall analysis.

· Each time you make a claim about what something means (interpretation), back it up with a quote (or quotes) or specific example(s) from the text as evidence (textual support)
and explain why you think that example means something (argument).

INTERPRETATION
=
TEXTUAL SUPPORT

+
ARGUMENT

(Claim about Meaning)
(Quote(s) or Specific Examples)
(Explanation of “why”)

3. Revising for Clarity and Style (Fine tuning )

· For any kind of writing– but especially literary analysis — it is important to be as
CLEAR AS POSSIBLE about WHO IS DOING WHAT to WHOM
. There are 2 major tips for improving this:

1. Whenever possible, replace a PRONOUN (he, she, it, they,) with a NOUN (person, place or thing) or PROPER NOUN (specific name of person or city, etc.).

[Same thing goes for POSESSIVE PRONOUNS (his, her, their, its’).]
EASIEST WAY TO DO THIS: Wherever you have a vague pronoun or possessive pronoun ask yourself a short question to get at specifics. Then use the “answer” in your revision:

Example from student draft of Journal 1:

Question: “Who is ‘she’ (PRONOUN) in this sentence?
Answers: “the poet” (NOUN), “Sylvia Plath” (PROPER NOUN, or “Plath” (PROPER NOUN).)

Look how much stronger these two sentences become when I replace the vague PRONOUNS with NOUNs or PROPER NOUNS:

DRAFT: “Daddy was written to create an image of the relationship between her and her

father. Her father died while she was 8 years old therefore she had a brief relationship.”
REVISED: “‘Daddy’ was written to create an image of the relationship between Sylvia Plath and her father. Plath’s father died while she was only 8 years old; therefore the poet had a brief relationship with him.”

2. Whenever possible, revise sentences to use ACTIVE VERBS instead of PASSIVE VERBS.
EASIEST WAY TO DO THIS: When you rewrite sentences, put the SUBJECT (whoever DID or IS DOING the action) in front of THE VERB (what is BEING DONE.).

DRAFT: “The poem is written in a nursery rhyme so it shows how it makes her feel like a little girl again.”

The sentence above is not clear about what “it” is (the poem? the nursery rhyme style?). Or maybe the two “its” refer to two different things? Also it is not clear WHO or WHAT the subject is, WHAT the action (verb) is or what the DIRECT OBJECT is.

REVISED (for PRONOUNS & ACTIVE VERBS): Sylvia Plath wrote “Daddy” in the style of a

nursery rhyme. By writing in this nursery rhyme style, Plath demonstrates for readers how

thinking about her father makes the poet feel like a little girl again.

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