A Writer's Reference with Writing about Literature

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Spiral Bound
  • Copyright: 10/10/2014
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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This version of the best-selling college handbook includes a tabbed section called Writing about Literature, a practical guide to interpreting works of literature and to planning, composing, and documenting papers about literature. Students will find help with forming and supporting an interpretation, avoiding plot summary, integrating quotations from a literary work, observing the conventions of literature papers, and using secondary sources. Writing about Literature also includes two sample student essays — one that uses primary sources and one that uses primary and secondary sources. The full primary texts are also included.

Author Biography

Diana Hacker personally class-tested her handbooks with nearly four thousand students over thirty-five years at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, where she was a member of the English faculty. Hacker handbooks, built on innovation and on a keen understanding of the challenges facing student writers, are the most widely adopted in America. Hacker handbooks, all published by Bedford/St. Martin’s, include The Bedford Handbook, Ninth Edition (2014); A Writer’s Reference, Eighth Edition (2015); Rules for Writers, Seventh Edition (2012); and A Pocket Style Manual, Seventh Edition (2015).
Nancy Sommers, who has taught composition and directed composition programs for thirty years, now teaches writing and mentors new writing teachers at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  She led Harvard’s Expository Writing Program for twenty years, directing the first-year writing program and establishing Harvard’s WAC program. A two-time Braddock Award winner, Sommers is well known for her research and publications on student writing. Her articles "Revision Strategies of Student and Experienced Writers" and "Responding to Student Writing" are two of the most widely read and anthologized articles in the field of composition.  Her recent work involves a longitudinal study of college writing to understand the role writing plays in undergraduate education. Sommers is the lead author on Hacker handbooks, all published by Bedford/St. Martin’s, and is coauthor of Fields of Reading, Ninth Edition (2010).

Table of Contents

C Composing and Revising

C1 Planning

C2 Drafting

C3 Reviewing, revising, and editing

C4 Preparing a portfolio; reflecting on your writing

C5 Writing paragraphs

C6 Document design: A gallery of models

A Academic Reading, Writing, and Speaking

A1 Reading and writing critically

A2 Reading and writing about images and multimodal texts

A3 Reading arguments

A4 Writing arguments

A5 Speaking confidently

A6 Writing in the disciplines

S Sentence Style

S1 Parallelism

S2 Needed words

S3 Problems with modifiers

S4 Shifts

S5 Mixed constructions

S6 Sentence emphasis

S7 Sentence variety

W Word Choice

W1 Glossary of usage

W2 Wordy sentences

W3 Active verbs

W4 Appropriate language

W5 Exact language

W6 The dictionary and the thesaurus

G Grammatical Sentences

G1 Subject-verb agreement

G2 Verb forms, tenses, and moods

G3 Pronouns

G4 Adjectives and adverbs

G5 Sentence fragments

G6 Run-on sentences

M Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges

M1 Verbs

M2 Articles

M3 Sentence structure

M4 Using adjectives

M5 Prepositions and idiomatic expressions

M6 Paraphrasing sources effectively

P Punctuation and Mechanics

P1 The comma

P2 Unnecessary commas

P3 The semicolon and the colon

P4 The apostrophe

P5 Quotation marks

P6 Other punctuation marks

P7 Spelling and hyphenation

P8 Capitalization

P9 Abbreviations and numbers

P10 Italics

B Basic Grammar

B1 Parts of speech

B2 Sentence patterns

B3 Subordinate word groups

B4 Sentence types

R Researching

R1 Thinking like a researcher; gathering sources

R2 Managing information; taking notes responsibly

R3 Evaluating sources

MLA Papers

MLA-1 Supporting a thesis

MLA-2 Citing sources; avoiding plagiarism

MLA-3 Integrating sources

MLA-4 Documenting sources

MLA-5 Manuscript format; sample paper

APA and CMS Papers

APA-1 Supporting a thesis

APA-2 Citing sources; avoiding plagiarism

APA-3 Integrating sources

APA-4 Documenting sources

APA-5 Manuscript format; sample paper

CMS-1 Supporting a thesis

CMS-2 Citing sources; avoiding plagiarism

CMS-3 Integrating sources

CMS-4 Documenting sources

CMS-5 Manuscript format; sample paper

L1 Reading to form an interpretation

a Reading actively, L-3

b Forming an interpretatio

L2 Planning the paper

Drafting a thesis

b Sketching an outline

L3 Writing the paper

Drafting an introduction

b Supporting your interpretation; avoiding simple plot


L4 Observing conventions

Referring to authors, titles, and characters

b Using the present tense

c Using MLA style to format quotations

L5 Integrating quotations from the text

Distinguishing between the author and a narrator or


b Providing context for quotations

c Avoiding shifts in tense

d Indicating changes in a quotation: using brackets and the ellipsis mark

e Enclosing embedded quotations in single quotation marks

f Using MLA style to cite passages from the work

L6 Using secondary sources

Documenting sources

b Avoiding plagiarism

L7 Sample papers

An analysis of a poem

POEM: "Ballad of the Landlord," by Langston Hughes

An analysis of a short story (with secondary sources)

SHORT STORY: "A Jury of Her Peers," by Susan Glaspell

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