Higher Education

Writing Essays About Literature, 8th Edition

  • Kelley Griffith Emeritus, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
  • ISBN-10: 1428290419  |  ISBN-13: 9781428290419
  • 480 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2006, 2002, 1998
  • © 2011 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $118.25
  • Newer Edition Available
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Widely used in introductory literature courses as a style guide or as a supplement to anthologies, this book provides valuable guidelines for interpreting literature and writing essays. It includes full-length selections as well as essays.

Features and Benefits

  • Provides succinct and effective guidelines for interpreting literature and writing essays. Includes full-length literary works, student essays, "Thinking on Paper" and additional, transferable apparatus.
  • Checklists at the end of chapters (especially the chapters on fiction, drama, poetry) serve as summaries of the chapters and allow students to apply what they've learned to any literature they read. Page references will take readers directly to places in the Griffith text where checklist concepts are treated.
  • Glossary of Literary Terms provides quick reference and greater understanding of the reading and writing process.
  • Student essays include a research essay on Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN in Chapter 11, "Documentation and Research," demonstrating how students can use information about an author's life to interpret works of literature. Other essays are in Chapter 13: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," Susan Glaspell's "Trifles," and George Eliot's "Adam Bede."
  • Chapter 11 on online resources includes a list of helpful Internet addresses and a discussion of how to evaluate the quality of websites.

Table of Contents

1. Strategies for Interpreting Literature.
Why Do People Read Literature? What Is Meaning? What Is Interpretation? How Do We Interpret? Checklist for Interpreting Literature. Work Cited.
2. What is Literature?
Literature Is Language. Literature Is Fictional. Walt Whitman, Cavalry Crossing a Ford. Literature Is True. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, My Friend, the Things that Do Attain. Literature Is Aesthetic. Literature Is Intertextual. Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love. Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph''s Reply to the Shepherd. Checklist for the Elements of Literature. Works Cited.
3. Interpreting Fiction.
The Elements of Fiction. Theme. Point of View. Plot. Characterization. Setting. Irony. Symbolism. Other Elements. Checklist for Interpreting Fiction. Works Cited.
4. Interpreting Drama.
The Nature of Drama. The Elements of Drama. Length. Audience. Plot. Characterization. Setting. Theme. Irony. Subgenres. Checklist for Interpreting Drama. Works Cited and Consulted.
5. Interpreting Poetry.
What Is Poetry? Emily Brontë, The Night Is Darkening Round Me. I. Sense in Poetry: Elements that Convey Meaning. Getting the Facts Straight (Reading a Poem the First Time). Diction. William Wordsworth, "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal." Syntax. Louise Bogan, "Song for a Lyre." Characterization, Point of View, Plot, and Setting. Jane Kenyon, "In the Nursing Home." Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach." Robert Browning, "My Last Duchess." Imagery: Descriptive Language. Imagery: Figurative Language. Samuel Daniel, "Love Is a Sickness." Thomas Campion, "There Is a Garden in Her Face." Symbolism. William Blake, "The Sick Rose." II. The Sound of Poetry: Musical Elements. Rhythm. William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 129." Word Sounds. Edgar Allan Poe, "To Helen." III. Structure: Devices that Organize. Lines. Enjambment. Blank Verse. Stanza. Rhyme Scheme. Fixed and Nonce Forms. The Sonnet. William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 116." Edna St. Vincent Millay, "I, Being Born a Woman." The Ballad. Anonymous, "The Daemon Lover." Common Meter. Emily Dickinson, "Because I Could Not Stop for Death." The Haiku. Matsuo Basho, haiku. Taniguchi Buson, haiku. Kobayashi Issa, haiku. Free Verse. Psalm 23. Ezra Pound, "Xenia." Amy Lowell, "Road to the Yoshiwara." Langston Hughes, "Vagabonds." The Villanelle. Elizabeth Bishop, "One Art." IV. Sight: The Visual Qualities of Poetry. Visual Poetry. George Herbert, Easter Wings. Modern Poetry. e. e. cummings,
"l(a." Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool." Checklist for Interpreting Poetry. Works Cited.
6. Specialized Approaches to Interpreting Literature.
Literary Criticism. Cites of Meaning. Literary Theory. The Work. Anglo-American Criticism. Structuralism. Archetypal Criticism. Poststructuralism. Resources. Applications. The Author. Historical and Biographical Criticism. New Historicist. Criticism. Resources. Applications. The Reader. European Reader-Response Criticism
American Reader-Response Criticism. Resources. Applications. All of Reality. Psychological Criticism. Resources. Marxist Criticism. Resources. Feminist and Gender Criticism. Resources. Applications. Works. Cited.
7. Writing about Literature.
Why Write about Literature? How Can You Write about Literature? The Writing Process First Stage: Inventing. Second Stage: Drafting. Third Stage: Revising. Fourth Stage: Editing and Publishing.
Preliminary Steps. Be an Active Reader. Identify Your Audience. Raise Questions about the Work. Narrow Your Topic . Search Strategies. Focus on the Work''s Conventions (Its Formal Qualities). Use Topoi (Traditional Patterns of Thinking). Respond to Comments by Critics. Draw from Your Own Knowledge. Talking and Writing Strategies. Talk Out Loud. Make Outlines. Freewrite. Brainstorm. Create Graphic Organizers. Make Notes. Keep a Journal. Sample Essay about Literature. Michelle Henderson, "Paradise Rejected in Homer''s Odyssey." Comments on the Essay. Checklist for Choosing Topics Works Cited.
9. Drafting the Essay.
The Argumentative Nature of Interpretive Essays. The Structure of Essays about Literature. The Argumentative Structure. The Rhetorical Structure. Guidelines for Writing First Drafts. Keep in Mind the Needs of Your Audience. Avoid Extreme Subjectivity (Overuse of "I"). Draw Up a Rough Outline. Begin Writing. Use Sound Deductive Reasoning. Support Key Claims with Facts. Use Sound Inductive Reasoning. Define Key Terms. Organize Evidence According to a Coherent Plan. Make Comparisons Complete and Easy to Follow. Checklist for Drafting the Essay. Works Cited.
10. Revising and Editing.
Revise Throughout the Writing Process. Revise for the Final Draft. Write a Clear and Readable Prose Style. Have Other People Read and Respond to Your Draft. Edit the Final Draft. Rules of Usage. Citations of Sources. Quotations. Other Rules of Usage Related to Essays about Literature. Physical Format. Sample Essay in Two Drafts. Early Draft. Comments on the Early Draft. Final Draft. Jennifer Hargrove, "A Comparison of Mary and Warren in Robert Frost''s ''The Death of the Hired Man''". Comments on the Final Draft. Checklist for Revising and Editing. Works Cited.
11. Documentation and Research.
Primary Sources. Secondary Sources. Research Papers and the Use of Secondary Sources. How to Find Information and Opinions about Literature. I. Library Catalogs and Stacks. II. Library Reference Area. III. Library Periodicals Area. IV. Information and Opinion on the Web. Evaluating the Quality of Internet Sites. Giving Credit to Sources. Why Should You Give Credit? When Should You Give Credit? Where Should You Give Credit? Correct Documentary Form. Guidelines for Parenthetical Citations. Guidelines for Using Footnotes and Endnotes. Guidelines and Form for the Works Cited List: General Rules. Sample Entries for Non-periodical Print Materials. Sample Entry for Periodical Publications in Print. Sample Entries for Web Publications. Sample Entries for Other Nonprint Sources. Frequently Used Abbreviations. Sample Research Paper. Harold Wright, "The Monster''s Education in Mary Shelley''s Frankenstein." Comments on the Research Paper. Checklist for Documentation and Research.
12. Taking Essay Tests.
Guidelines for Taking Essay Tests. Sample Test Essays. Essay 1 (A Mediocre Essay). Comments on Essay 1. Essay 2 (A Good Essay). Comments on Essay 2. Essay 3 (A Very Good Essay). Comments on Essay 3. Checklist for Taking Essay Tests.
13. Sample Essays.
Essay on a Poem. George Cannon, "Point of View in Edwin Arlington Robinson''s ''Richard Cory''." Essay on a Short Story. Blake Long, "Montresor''s Fate in Edgar Allan Poe''s ''The Cask of Amontillado''." Essay on a Play. Carolyn Briner, "The Meaning of Physical Objects in Susan Glaspell''s Trifles." Essay on a Novel. Shalita Forrest, "First Love, Lost Love in George Eliot''s Adam Bede."
Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Richard Cory" (1897). Robert Frost, "The Death of the Hired Man" (1914). Short Stories. Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants" (1927).
Mary Robison, "Yours" (1983). Edgar Allan Poe, "The Cask of Amontillado" (1847).
Play. Susan Glaspell, Trifles (1916).
Index of Concepts and Terms.
Index of Critics, Authors, and Works.

What's New

  • Greater emphasis on meaning in literature -- Chapter 1 attempts to define "meaning", and subsequent chapters relate material to this definition and to the overall quest for meaning in literature.
  • Complete revision of the chapter on drama -- Several sections have been expanded and new sections, including one on costumes, have been included.
  • Complete revision and expansion of the chapter on theory -- In addition to cataloguing types of literary theory, the chapter now suggests how students might use types of literary criticism. It also contains "applications" sections that suggest how theoretical approaches might provide avenues for finding meaning.
  • Updating of guidelines and resources –- The sections on usage and documentary style have been revised according to the latest edition of the MLA HANDBOOK FOR WRITERS OF RESEARCH PAPERS (7th Edition, 2009).
  • An appendix containing whole works of literature -- With one exception, all works of literature that are subjects of student essays have been moved to an appendix. In addition, new selections have been added, including Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants."

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Kelley Griffith

Kelley Griffith earned a BA from Wake Forest University and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. In his 34-year teaching career at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he taught courses in composition, American literature, English literature, European literature, and literary research. In 1996 he won the Alumni Teaching Excellence Award, UNCGreensboro's top honor for outstanding teaching. He is the author of two textbooks, Narrative Fiction: An Introduction and Anthology (Harcourt Brace, 1994) and Writing Essays about Literature: A Guide and Style Sheet (Wadsworth Cengage Learning), soon to appear in its ninth edition. Upon his retirement in 2002, he completed the Fine and Creative Woodworking Program at Rockingham Community College and now makes custom furniture. Examples of his work can be seen at www.sunburstfinewoodworking.com. He continues to be a deeply engaged reader of literature and maintains a strong interest in literary theory and pedagogy. On occasion he teaches non-credit courses at UNCG. In his new career he has been struck by how the skills required for interpreting and writing about literature mesh with those for operating a small business and making furniture. These skills include such things as analyzing complicated structures, doing research, solving problems, thinking systematically, and communicating clearly and persuasively to a general audience.