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Arguing About Literature: A Guide and Reader

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2016-12-09
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Coherently discuss (argue) the meaning of literature, why certain books exist, and whether or not any of it maatters  by honing your abilities to read carefully, analyze texts and evaluate sources with A Brief Guide to Arguing about Literature.

Author Biography

John Schilb (PhD, State University of New York—Binghamton) is a professor of English at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he holds the Culbertson Chair in Writing. He has coedited Contending with Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age, and with John Clifford, Writing Theory and Critical Theory. He is author of Between the Lines: Relating Composition Theory and Literary Theory and Rhetorical Refusals: Defying Audiences’ Expectations.
John Clifford (PhD, New York University) is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Editor of The Experience of Reading: Louis Rosenblatt and Reader-Response Theory, he has published numerous scholarly articles on pedagogy, critical theory, and composition theory, most recently in College English; Relations, Locations, Positions: Composition Theory for Writing Teachers; and in The Norton Book of Composition Studies.

Table of Contents

A Brief Guide to Arguing about Literature

Preface for Instructors 
Contents by Genre

1. What is Argument? 
              Paul Goldberger, Disconnected Urbanism
New       Understanding Rhetoric
The Elements of Argument
Sample Argument for Analysis
              David W. Barno, A New Moral Compact
              Writing a Response to an Argument
New       Strategies for Analyzing an Argument So You Can Write a Response to It
 An Argument for Analysis
New       Regina Rini, Should We Rename Institutions that Honor Dead Racists?

New 2.   Writing Effective Arguments
Strategies for Developing an Effective Style of Argument
Structuring Your Argument; Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay
Student Response to an Argument
               Justin Korzack, How to Slow Down the Rush to War
Arguments for Analysis
New Lee Siegel, Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans
New Sophia McDougall, All Princesses Know Kung Fu

3. How Do You Argue about Literature?
What Is Literature?
Why Study Literature in a College Writing Course?
Two Stories for Analysis
               Daniel Orozco, Orientation (story)
               Jamaica Kincaid, Girl (story)
Strategies for Making Arguments about Literature
Sample Student Argument about Literature
               Ann Schumwalt, The Mother’s Mixed Messages in “Girl”
Looking at Literature as Argument
               John Milton, When I Consider How My Light Is Spent (poem)
               Robert Frost, Mending Wall (poem)
 Literature and Current Issues
New        Rivka Galchen, Usl at the Stadium (story)
New        Jon Ronson, from “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life (argument)
New        Jennifer Jacquet, from Is Shame Necessary? (argument)
4..   The Reading Process
Strategies for Close Reading
A Poem for Analysis
              Sharon Olds, “Summer Solstice, New York City” (poem)
Applying the Strategies
Reading Closely by Annotating
              X. J. Kennedy, Death of a Window Washer (poem)
New Further Strategies for Close Reading
New      Identify Characters’ Emotions to Get Ideas
New      Edward Hirsch, Execution (poem)
             Use Topics of Literary Studies to Get Ideas
             Lynda Hull, Night Waitress (poem)
             T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (poem)
New      Allison Alsup, Old Houses (story)

5.          The Writing Process
             William Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper (poem)
Strategies for Exploring
Strategies for Planning
Strategies for Composing
First Draft of a Student Paper
              Abby Hazelton, The Passage of Time in “The Solitary Reaper”
Strategies for Revising
               A Checklist for Revising
Revised Draft of a Student Paper
               Abby Hazelton, The Passage of Time in “The Solitary Reaper”
Strategies for Writing a Comparative Paper
               Don Paterson, Two Trees (poem)
               Luisa A. Igloria, Regarding History (poem) 
               List Similarities and Differences
               Consider “Weighting” Your Comparison
A Student Comparative Paper
               Jeremy Cooper,” Don Paterson’s Criticism of Nature’s Owners”
6.  Writing about Literary Genres
Writing about Stories
               Eudora Welty, A Visit of Charity
The Elements of Short Fiction 
               Plot and Structure/Point of View / Characters /Setting /Imagery/Language/Theme
Final Draft of a Student Paper
               Tanya Vincent, The Real Meaning of Charity in “A Visit of Charity”
Writing about Poems 
               Mary Oliver, Singapore
               Yusef Komunyakaa, Blackberries
                Edwin Arlington Robinson, The Mill
The Elements of Poetry
               Speaker and Tone / Diction and Syntax / Figures of Speech / Sound/ Rhythm and Meter /Theme
Final Draft of a Student Paper
               Michaela Fiorucci, “Negotiating Boundaries”
Comparing Poems and Pictures
                Analyzing Visual Art/ Writing an Essay that Compares Literature and Art/ A Sample Paper Comparing a Poem and a Picture
                Karl Magnusson, Lack of Motion and Speech in Rolando Perez’s “Office at Night”
                Edward Hopper, “Office at Night”
                Rolando Perez, “Office at Night
Writing about Plays
                August Strindberg, The Stronger
The Elements of Drama 
                Plot and Structure/ Characters/ Stage Directions and Setting /Imagery /Language/ Theme
Final Draft of a Student Paper
               Trish Carlisle, “Which Is the Stronger Actress in August Strindberg’s Play?”
7.            Writing Researched Arguments
New        Begin Your Research by Giving It Direction
Search for Sources in the Library and Online
Evaluate the Sources  
New         Record Your Sources’ Key Details
Strategies for Integrating Sources
New Avoid Plagiarism
Strategies for Documenting Sources (MLA Format) 
                MLA In-Text Citation  
                MLA Works Cited  
Three Annotated Student Researched Arguments
An Argument that Uses a Literary Work to Examine Social Issues
               Sarah Michaels, “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a Guide to Social Factors in Postpartum Depression
An Argument that Deals with Existing Interpretations of a Literary Work
               Katie Johnson, The Meaning of the Husband’s Fainting in “The Yellow Wall-Paper”
An Argument that Places a Literary Work in Historical and Cultural Context
               Brittany Thomas, The Relative Absence of the Human Touch in “The Yellow Wall-Paper”
 Contexts for Research:  Confinement,  Mental Illness and “The Yellow Wallpaper”
 Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
 Cultural Contexts
               Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”
               S. Weir Mitchell, From The Evolution of the Rest Treatment
               John Harvey Kellogg, From The Ladies’ Guide in Health and Disease

8. Writing with Critical Approaches to Literature 
 Contemporary Schools of Criticism
             New Criticism; Feminist Criticism; Psychoanalytic Criticism; Marxist Criticism; Deconstruction; Reader-Response Criticism; Postcolonial Criticism; New Historicism; Queer Theory

Working with the Critical Approaches
           James Joyce, Counterparts (story)
           Molly Fry, A Refugee at Home (student paper)
New    James Joyce, Eveline

PART TWO: Literature and Arguments
9. Families
Mothers and Daughters: Stories 
          Tillie Olsen, I Stand Here Ironing 
          Amy Tan, Two Kinds
          Alice Walker, Everyday Use 
Siblings in Conflict: Stories 
         Tobias Wolff, The Rich Brother
         James Baldwin, Sonny’s Blues
Returning Home from War:  Stories
   Ernest Hemingway, Soldier’s Home
New   Lauren Groff, Good People
Reconciling with Fathers:  Poems
          Lucille Clifton, forgiving my father
          Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays
          Theodore Roethke, My Papa's Waltz  
          Li-Young Lee, My Father, in Heaven, Is Reading Out Loud
Grandparents and Legacies: Poems 
         Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Grandfather at the Indian Health Clinic
         Nikki Giovanni, Legacies 
         Linda Hogan, Heritage
         Alberto Ríos, Mi Abuelo  
         Judith Ortiz Cofer, Claims
Gays and Lesbians in Families: Poems
         Essex Hemphill, Commitments
         Audre Lorde, Who Said It Was Simple 
         Minnie Bruce Pratt, Two Small-Sized Girls 
New  Richard Blanco, Queer Theory: According to My Grandmother
Literature and Current Issues: Should Working Women “Lean in”?
   Deborah Garrison, Working Late on a Tuesday Night (poem)
Arguments on the Issue
    Sheryl Sandberg, from Lean In
   Rosa Brooks, Recline, Don’t Lean In: Why I Hate Sheryl Sandberg
Literature and Current Issues:  Why Do Children Rebel Against Parental Expectations?
     Hanif Kureishi, My Son the Fanatic (story)
 Arguments on the Issue
New      Roger Cohen, Why ISIS Trumps Freedom
New      Abdelkader Benali, From Teenage Angst to Jihad
 Arguments about a Poem: “Daddy”
            Sylvia Plath, Daddy
            Arguments about the Poem
                   Mary Lynn Broe, From Protean Poetic: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath
                   Lynda K. Bundtzen, From Plath's Incarnations
                   Steven Gould Axelrod, From Sylvia Plath: The Wound and the Cure of Words
                   Tim Kendall, from Sylvia Plath:  A Critical Study
Contexts for Research: Human Obligations, Robot Consciousness, and “The Long Years”
 Ray Bradbury, The Long Years (story)
Contexts for Research
            Eric Schwitzgebel, We Have a Greater Moral Obligation to Robots than to Humans
New            Kenneth Chang, Can Robots become Conscious?
New            Dan Falk, How Long Before Robots Can Think Like Us?
New            A. M. Turing, From “Computing Machinery and Intelligence

10.  Love
Romantic Dreams:  Stories
        James Joyce, Araby 
        John Updike, A & P
New  Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman  
Is This Love?   Stories 
        William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily
         Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
True Love: Poems
        William Shakespeare, Let me not to the marriage of true minds
        John Keats, Bright Star
New Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How Do I Love Thee?
         e. e. cummings, somewhere i have never travelled
Passionate Love: Poems
        Michael S. Harper, Discovery 
        Susan Minot, My Husband’s Back

Melancholy Loves: Poems
   Edna St. Vincent Millay, What My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why 
          W.H. Auden, Funeral Blues
New   Pablo Neruda, The Song of Despair
New   Robin Becker, Morning Poem
Seductive Arguments: Poems
   John Donne, The Flea
          Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress
Literature and Current Issues: Are Millennials Narcissists?
 Tony Hoagland, What Narcissism Means to Me
 Arguments on the Issue
New   Brooke Lea Foster, The Persistent Myth of the Narcissistic Millennial
New   Emily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer Aaker, Millennial Searchers
New   Dr. Keith Ablow, We Are Raising a Generation of Deluded Narcissists
New   Colson Whitehead, How ‘You do You’ Perfectly Captures Our Narcissistic Culture
Literature and Current Issues:  Why Marry?  
      Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour  (story)
      Arguments on the Issue
            Laura Kipnis, Against Love
           Meghan O’Rourke, The Marriage Trap 
New    Bob Morris, Gay Marriage?  How Straight
Arguments about a Play: Othello
    William Shakespeare, Othello 
    Arguments about the Play:
            A.C. Bradley, The Noble Othello
           Millicent Bell, Othello’s Jealousy 
           Jeffrie G. Murphy, Jealousy, Shame, and Rival
Contexts for Research:  Social Disruption, Personal Anxiety, and “Dover Beach”
      Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach
Contexts for Research: 
  Charles Dickens, from Hard Times
New   Friedrich Engels, from The Condition of the Working Class in England
New   James Eli Adams, Narrating Nature: Darwin
11.    Freedom and Confinement
Oppressive Traditions:  Stories
        Shirley Jackson, The Lottery 
New Caitlin Horrocks, The Sleep
Freedom for Animals: Poems
     William Blake, The Tyger
      D. H. Lawrence, Snake
      Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish
      Dean Young, Clam Ode
Trapped in Stereotypes: Poems
       Chrystos, Today Was a Bad Day Like TB
       Louise Erdrich, Dear John Wayne
       Dwight Okita, In Response to Executive Order 9066
       David Hernandez, Pigeons
       Pat Mora, Legal Alien
       Toi Derricotte, Black Boys Play the Classics
       Naomi Shihab Nye, Blood
A Creative Confinement:  Poems by Emily Dickinson
         Emily Dickinson, Wild Nights--Wild Nights!
New  Emily Dickinson, Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--
New  Emily Dickinson, Much Madness is divinest Sense
New  Emily Dickinson,  I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Domestic Prisons: Plays
        Susan Glaspell, Trifles 
        Lynn Nottage, POOF!
Literature and Current Issues:  Does Our Happiness Depend on Others’ Misery?
        Ursula LeGuin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
         Arguments on the Issue
New          David Brooks, The Child in the Basement
New          John R. Ehrenfeld, The Error of Trying to Measure Good and Bad
Literature and Current Issues: What Aren’t You Free to Say? 
Ariel Dorfman, The Gospel According to Garcia (story)
           Arguments on the Issue
New   Catherine Rampell, “Free Speech is Flunking Out on College Campuses”
New   Geoffrey R. Stone and Will Creeley, “Restoring Free Speech on Campus”
New   Nicholas Kristof, “Mizzou, Yale and Free Speech”
Contexts for Research: Domesticity, Women’s Rights, and A Doll’s House
      Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House
      Contexts for Research
New        Henrik Ibsen, Memorandum
New        August Strindberg, Woman in A Doll’s House
New        Emma Goldman, Review of A Doll’s House
New        Joan Templeton,  The Doll House Backlash:  Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen
New        Susanna Rustin, Why A Doll’s House  Is More Relevant than Ever

12.   Crime and Justice
Discovering Injustice: Stories
         Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown
         Toni Cade Bambara, The Lesson
New  Ha Jin, Saboteur
Racial Injustice:  Poems
          Countee Cullen, Incident
          Natasha Trethewey, Incident
Justice for Workers: Poems
New   Philip Levine, What Work Is
New   Marge Piercy, The Secretary Chant 
New   Philip Shultz, Greed
Punishments: Poems
          Seamus Heaney, Punishment
          Carolyn Forché, The Colonel
He Said/She Said:  Poems
         Robert Browning, My Last Duchess
         Gabriel Spera, My Ex-Husband
A Dream of Justice:  Poems by Langston Hughes
         Langston Hughes, Open Letter to the South
         Langston Hughes, Theme for English B
         Langston Hughes, Harlem
How Can Injustice Be Resisted? Plays
         Sophocles, Antigone
         Ida Fink, The Table

Literature and Current Issues:   Should Neuroscience Redefine Criminal Law? 
 Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart (story)
         Arguments on the Issue
                   David Eagleman, The Brain on Trial (argument)
                   Raymond Tallis, Why Blame Me?  It Was All My Brain’s Fault (argument)
Literature and Contemporary Debates:  How Just Is Capital Punishment?
                  Sherman Alexie, Capital Punishment (poem)
                  Arguments on the Issue
           George Will, "Capital Punishment's Slow Death"
New           Bill Otis,  George Will's Limp Case Against the Death Penalty
New           Charles J. Ogletree, “Condemned to Die Because He’s Black”
Arguments about a Story:  “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

        Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find
        Arguments about the Story
                   Flannery O’Connor, from Mystery and Manners 
                   Martha Stephens, from The Question of Flannery O’Connor
                   Stephen Bandy, from “’One of My Babies’: The Misfit and the Grandmother
                   John Desmond, from “Flannery O’Connor’s Misfit and the Mystery of Evil”
Contexts for Research:  Innocence, Evil, and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
        Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been 
        Contexts for Research
           Don Moser, The Pied Piper of Tucson
New           Joyce Carol Oates, Smooth Talk: Short Story into Film
New           Margaret Talbot, from Gone Girl: The Extraordinary Resilience of Elizabeth Smart

13. Journeys
Fairy Tale Journeys:  Stories
      Charles Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood
      Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Little Red Cap 
      Angela Carter, The Company of Wolves
Wartime Journeys: Stories
        Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
New  Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Roads Taken:  Poems by Robert Frost
      Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
      Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
      Robert Frost, Acquainted with the Night
Visionary Journeys: Poems
  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan
New  Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias
New  William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium
Final Journeys: Poems
       Mary Oliver, When Death Comes
       John Donne, Death Be Not Proud 
       Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night 
       Emily Dickinson, Because I could not stop for Death 
Literature and Current Issues:   Do Immigrants Take Jobs from Native-Born Workers?
New    Jimmy Santiago Baca, So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs from Americans (poem)
            Arguments on the Issue
    Steven Camarota, Unskilled Workers Lose Out to Immigrants
New     Maria E. Enchautegui, Immigrants Are Replacing, Not Displacing, Workers
New     Ted Widmer, The Immigration Dividend
Literature and Current Issues:  What Makes a Woman? 
New     Adrienne Rich, Diving Into the Wreck
            Arguments on the Issue
     Elinor Burkett, What Makes a Woman?
New     Jaclyn Friedman Who Decides What Makes a Woman?
New      Leela Ginelle, Trans Women are Women. Why Do We have to Keep Saying This?
Contexts for Research: Race, Social Equality, and “Battle Royal”
Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal”
 Contexts for Research:
         Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address
         W.E. B. DuBois, Of Mr. Booker T. Washington
         Gunnar Myrdal, Social Equality
Index of Authors, Titles, Terms, and First Lines

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