What is 'Documented Literary Analysis'?

Documented Literary Analysis presents an original argument about an aspect or aspects of literature and places this argument in the context of an ongoing critical conversation. The paper should engage with critical sources, but it should not merely rehearse the critical arguments that have already been made about your topic. You are composing an analytical argument, not a report. The argument should be based on your own close-reading of your chosen text(s) with the ultimate proof for all assertions being specific textual evidence from the literary work(s) itself. Nonetheless, your paper will demonstrate the scholarly maturity that comes with situating your argument in relation to the work of other scholars. Material from these sources should be carefully documented using the MLA style of documentation. Appropriate general topics might include: analysis of theme(s), exploration of one or more characteristic(s) of an author's style and approach, placement of a work or works in literary historical context, the comparison/contrast of works sharing similarities but written by different authors and/or in different literary periods.


(1) Remember to revise your work and proof-read carefully.

(2) All professors want to see a strong argument, cogently advanced and well-supported by evidence from the literature.

(3) Organization counts. Make sure you have a focused, detailed thesiswithin your introductory paragraph. Your thesis should outline what is to follow. Succeeding paragraphs should state a topic and supply evidence and argument to support that topic. Don't forget the conclusion. A strong conclusion leaves your reader with a clear sense of your perspective and helps the reader to recall the most important aspects of your argument.

(4) Don't let the critics run away with your paper. Subordinate their views to your own, and make sure that the preponderance of the paper is yours. Never cite a critical view that you do not understand.

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