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A Brief Guide to Arguing about Literature

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2016-12-23
  • 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

 Index of Authors, Titles, Terms, and First Lines

Supplemental Materials

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The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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