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Writing Essays About Literature 9th Edition

Kelley Griffith

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2011, 2006, 2002
  • 496 Pages
Starting At 50.00 See pricing and ISBN options


Widely used in introductory literature courses, this book provides valuable guidelines for interpreting literature and writing essays. It includes a thorough discussion of the 3 main literary genres--fiction, drama, and poetry, an overview of literary theory, guidelines for writing essays, procedures for writing and documenting research essays, a selection of full-length works that illustrate key points, and student essays.

Kelley Griffith, Emeritus, University of North Carolina - Greensboro

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 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.
  • Chapter 6 has been updated to include an overview of one of the latest, most accessible, and most interesting developments of literary criticism – ecocriticism. This new field should appeal to students and encourage them to try their own hands at writing about this subject.
  • Chapter 7 has been revised to discuss three new kinds of essays – essays that advocate, essays that evaluate, and essays that illuminate. This discussion illustrates the kinds of essays about literature that people actually write and publish outside of academia, emphasizing the connection between writing about literature and writing students will do in the "real world" once they leave college.
  • Chapter 8 now gets right to practical methods of thinking one's way toward a topic and suggest new writing "games" for students: activities for studying and reviewing in groups.
  • The discussion in Chapter 9 on reasoning – induction, deduction, and sound logic – has been reorganized and revised for clarity.
  • Chapter 6, "Specialized Approaches to Interpreting Literature," is organized around 'sites' of study – the work, the author, the reader, all of reality – so that the chapter is more than just a 'history' of literary criticism but also a 'map' showing the major areas of literary study. This structure encourages students to focus on these same areas themselves, and at the end of each of these major sections are suggestions about how readers might actually use some of these approaches in their own study and writing.
  • A Glossary of Literary Terms provides quick definitions of key concepts mentioned in the book.
  • The first part of Writing Essays about Literature provides thorough and clear descriptions of literary conventions characteristic of fiction, drama, and poetry, not just for their own sake but for their usefulness in interpreting literature; while the second part focuses specifically on the writing process.
  • Prompts, such as Questions, Thinking on Paper, Now It's Your Turn, encourage readers to think on their own, develop their own ideas, and to practice what they have learned.
  • End of chapter material includes Works Cited lists that serve as invitations for further reading and Checklists that serve as summaries of the chapters and allow students to apply what they've learned to any literature they read. Page references in the Checklists take readers to places where the concepts are treated.
  • Writing Essays about Literature includes many full-length works both throughout the text and in an Appendix that serve as illustrations of major points and as subjects for further discussion and writing.
  • The 'Style Sheet' thrust of the book – Chapters 10 and 11 – gives guidelines for the physical format of essays and rules of usage typical of essays about literature. It also includes a student essay to serve as a model for research essays.
1. Strategies for Interpreting Literature.
2. What is Literature?
Walt Whitman, Cavalry Crossing a Ford. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, My Friend, the Things that Do Attain. Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love. Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd.
3. Interpreting Fiction.
4. Interpreting Drama.
5. Interpreting Poetry.
Emily Bronte, The Night Is Darkening Round Me. William Wordsworth, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. Louise Bogan, Song for a Lyre. Jane Kenyon, In the Nursing Home. Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach. Robert Browning, My Last Duchess. Samuel Daniel, Love Is a Sickness. Thomas Campion, There Is a Garden in Her Face. William Blake, The Sick Rose. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 129. Edgar Allan Poe, To Helen. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116. Edna St. Vincent Millay, I, Being Born a Woman. Anonymous, The Daemon Lover. Emily Dickinson, Because I Could Not Stop for Death. Matsuo Basho, How to say goodbye! Taniguchi Buson, Under the blossoming pear. Kobayashi Issa, The old, plump bullfrog. Anonymous, Psalm 23. Ezra Pound, Xenia. Amy Lowell, Road to the Yoshiwara. Langston Hughes, Vagabonds. Elizabeth Bishop, One Art. George Herbert, Easter Wings. e. e. cummings, l(a. Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool.
6. Specialized Approaches to Interpreting Literature.
7. Writing about Literature.
8. Choosing Topics.
9. Drafting the Essay.
10. Revising and Editing.
11. Documentation and Research.
12. Taking Essay Tests.
13. Sample Essays.
Edwin Arlington Robinson, Richard Cory. Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man.
Short Stories.
Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants. Mary Robison, Yours. Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado.
Susan Glaspell, Trifles.
Index of Concepts and Terms.
Index of Critics, Authors, and Works.
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  • ISBN-10: 1337091707
  • ISBN-13: 9781337091701
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