Literature Reading to Write

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-09-21
  • Publisher: Pearson

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Literature:Reading to Writemasterfully weaves critical thinking skills, writing, and reading instruction using writing prompts, literary selections, and intriguing discussion points. Students transition from active readers to critical writers through a series of reading prompts and unique writing exercises. This process helps students find meaning in a broader context by forging connections between literature and their personal experiences. Additionally, the book features an eclectic array of classic and contemporary voices in literature as well as sections devoted to newer genres such as graphic novels. This interactive approach leaves students with the knowledge and confidence to write research papers and essays that are thought-provoking, engaging, and authentic to their true writing voice.

Author Biography

Dr. Elizabeth Howells is the director of composition at Atlantic Armstrong State University and is a dedicated and successful classroom teacher at an “average” university with an “average” student population.  The course proposed and textbook outlined here has been tested in her classroom and in the classrooms of various of her colleagues for over ten years at the college level.  Her work as a site director with the National Writing Project has also provided her opportunities to work with teachers and students at diverse levels.  Her Ph.D. training as a literature student and a compositionist influences her teaching and scholarship.  This textbook unites her teaching, research, and personal and professional selves.

Table of Contents

Part I              Reading and Writing About Literature


1.         What Is Literature?

           Literary Contexts: Authors Define Literature

           Historical Contexts: Forms of Literature Through Time



Charles Perrault, “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood”

§         Literary Contexts: Defining Plot

Margaret Atwood, “There was Once”



Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”

Comparing Themes

Adrienne Rich, “Diving into the Wreck”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Constantly Risking Absurdity”

Reflecting on the Writing Process




Assignment: Reading to Write


2 Reading and Writing: Contexts for Thinking

            Active Reading

            Writing About Your Reading Experience

            Thinking Critically About the Text



Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”

Critical Thinking Acts





§      Literary Contexts: Making Meaning of Fiction



Jane Martin, Beauty

§     Literary Contexts: Making Meaning of Drama


        Literary Contexts: Making Meaning of Poetry




Comparing Themes

Sylvia Plath, “Metaphors”

Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry”

Assignments: Reading to Write

Sample Student Paper: Ashley Walden, Breaking Boundaries in Chopin’s “The

            Story of an Hour”


Part II             Writing in Response to Literature   


3 Love and Symbolism: Interpreting Themes



            Li Ho, “A Beautiful Girl Combs Her Hair”

            Sir Thomas Wyatt, “I find no peace, and all my war is done”

            Robert Herrick, “Upon Julia’s Clothes”

            Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Indian Girl’s Song”

The Act of Interpretation

                        Accounting for Key Symbols and Other Elements

                        Taking Contexts into Account

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18” and “Sonnet 130”

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Love Is Not All”

Wislawa Szymborska, “True Love”

Sharon Olds, “Sex without Love”

Beth Ann Fennelly,Why I Can't Cook for Your Self-Centered Architect




Guy DeMaupaussant, “The Necklace”

Bobbie Ann Mason, “Shiloh”

            Writing an Interpretation: Reading for Meaning in Literature

                        Prewriting: Identifying a Topic

                        Forming an Interpretation: Offering a Big Idea

                        Bringing in Evidence: Close Reading for Textual Support

                        Shaping a Thesis: Constructing a Statement

                        Writing to Advance the Thesis: The Formal Essay

                                    The Introduction

                                    The Body

                                    The Conclusion

                        Integrating and Citing Source Material

                        Revising, Editing, and Proofreading




            Sample Student Paper: James Lewis, “Immoderate Desire” in Guy

               DeMaupaussant’s “The Necklace”


4 A Study in Style: Analyzing Patterns

            What does it mean when you say that a person has style?


WilliamWordsworth, “Nuns Fret Not”

§         Literary Contexts: Stanza Lengths and Sonnets

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”

§         Literary Contexts: The Villanelle

The Act of Analysis

            Supporting Theme through Analysis

Finding Patterns through Analysis         



e.e. cummings, “1(a”

§         Literary Contexts: Open-Form Poetry

Comparing Themes

Emily Dickinson, “Some Keep the Sabbath”

Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”

§         Critical Contexts: Formalist Criticism

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Geraldine Brooks, “We Real Cool”

§         Literary Contexts: Scanning Lines of Poetry



Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

§         Literary Contexts: Realism



Toni Cade Bambara, “The Lesson”

§         Literary Contexts: Dialogue

Don DeLillo, “Videotape”

§         Literary Contexts: Reality

Tim O’Brien, “The Things they Carried”

§         Literary Contexts: Imagery

            Writing an Analysis: The Elements of Style

                        Moving from Free Writes to Ideas

                        Finding a Focus

                        Shaping a Thesis

                        Finding Significance in Small Moments and Specific Details

                        Writing to Advance the Thesis

                                    Making a Plan

                                    Developing and Supporting Your Thesis

                        Revising to Polish


                                    A Lesson in Style

                                    Style Checklist



            Sample Student Paper: Ashley Walden, Analyzing Stage Direction, Dialogue, and Memory in Williams’ The Glass Menagerie


5 Voice and Narration: Arguing for an Interpretation



John Updike, “A&P”

§         Critical Contexts: You Decide

William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily”

§         Critical Contexts: A Historical/Feminist Approach to Miss Emily

The Act of Argument

            The Writer: Evaluating Your Interpretation

            The Text: Evaluating Your Analysis

            The Readers: Evaluating Your Audience



Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess”

§         Historical Contexts: The Duke’s Two Wives

Comparing Themes

Christina Rossetti, “In an Artist’s Studio”

Marge Piercy, “Barbie Doll”

§         Historical Contexts: Comparing the Themes

Thomas Hardy, “Channel Firing”

Randall Jarrell, “Death of a Ball Turret Gunner”

§         Historical and Literary Contexts: The Literature of War

T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. A. Prufrock”

§         Literary Contexts: Making Meaning of Prufrock

Arguing an Interpretation

Using Visual Techniques to Discover Ideas


            Jot Listing

Shaping a Persuasive Thesis


Writing to Advance the Thesis

            Support Your Interpretation through Analysis

            Support Your Argument by Addressing Counter-Arguments

Revising with Your Audience in Mind

            Write the Introduction and Conclusion

            Strengthen Weaker Paragraphs

            Arrange Your Paragraphs

            Decide Where to Handle Other Interpretations

Editing and Proofreading Your Argument

Sample Student Paper: Erin Christian, Effects of the Social Environment on

   Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily”


6 Families and Their Characters: Comparing Works of Literature


Flannery O’Connor, “Everything that Rises Must Converge”

§         Literary Contexts: Regionalism and the Grotesque

Comparing Themes: Identity

Alice Walker, “Everyday Use”

Amy Tan, “Two Kinds”

§         Critical Contexts: Assimilation versus Acculturation

The Act of Comparison

            Choosing Two Texts to Compare

            Charting Similarities and Differences

            Analyzing and Interpreting the Comparisons



Comparing Themes: Growing

Rita Dove, “Adolescence I” and “Adolescence III”

Comparing Themes: Fathers

Judith Cofer, “Common Ground”

Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays”

Lucille Clifton, “forgiving my father”

Sylvia Plath, “Daddy”

Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz”

Writing a Comparison and Contrast Essay

Discovering Similarities and Differences

Focusing on What Is Revealed

Shaping a Thesis

            A Thesis Focused on Similarities

            A Thesis Focused on Differences

Writing to Advance the Thesis

Revising for Coherence

Editing and Proofreading

Integrating Text from a Reading into Your Writing



            Direct Quotation

Student Sample: Stephanie Roberts, Structure and Style in Lucille Clifton’s

   “forgiving my father” and Plath’s “Daddy”: Renaming and Reclaiming


7 Oppression and Social Change: Using Critical Tools for Analytical Arguments



Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Yellow Wallpaper”

Critical Contexts: Feminist Criticism

Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”

Ursula LeGuin “The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas”

            The Act of Seeing Through a Critical Perspective



Comparing Themes

Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book”

Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”

Wole Soyinka, “Telephone Conversation”

Julio Marzan “Ethnic Poetry”



Susan Glaspell, Trifles

Writing an Analytical Argument from a Critical Perspective

            Considering Different Critical Perspectives

            Rereading the Work in Light of the Perspective

            Shaping a Thesis: Establishing the Critical Context

            Writing to Advance the Thesis

            Integrating and Citing Source Material

            Revising, Editing, and Proofreading

Sample Student Paper: Stephanie Roberts, Policing Domesticity: Cultural Surveillance in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles


Part III           Experiencing Contemporary Literature


8 Laughing Out Loud: Getting to Know Comic Literature

From Someone Who Knows: Dave Barry on Being Funny

            Bryan Curtis, "On Dave Barry: Elegy for the Humorist"

A Genre You Know: Stand-Up Comedy                     

A Genre You Might Like to Know: Comic Essays

            David Sedaris, “The Drama Bug”

            Sarah Vowell, "Shooting Dad"

Knowing Where We Came From: Comedy in the Theatre

§          Want to Know More? The Language of Comedy

Writing About Your Experience with Literature


9 Viewing Words and Reading Pictures: Getting to Know Graphic Novels

From Someone Who Knows: Scott McCloud on Understanding Comics

Excerpt from Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics

§          Want to Know More? Graphic Novels versus Literature

A Genre You Know: Comic Strips

            Charles Schulz, Snoopy

            Aaron McGruder, The Boondocks

A Genre You Might Like to Know: The Superhero Graphic Novel

            Excerpt from Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta

Another Kind of Graphic Novel: A Memoir

Excerpt from Art Speigelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale           

            Knowing Where We Come From: The Evolution of Comics

Writing About Your Experience with Literature


10 Thrilled and Chilled: Getting to Know Horror in Literature

From Someone Who Knows: Stephen King on Horror

            Stephen King, "Why We Crave Horror Stories"

A Genre You Know: Stephen King stories

A Horror Story You Might Like: A Real-Life Devil

            Joyce Carol Oates, “Where are you going, where have you been?”

§          Want to Know More? Source Material for Oates' Story

Excerpt from Don Moser, “The Pied Piper of Tuscon”

                     Bob Dylan, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

Knowing Where We Come From: Edgar Allan Poe

Writing About Your Experience with Literature


11 Listening to Music: Experiencing Stories in Rhythm

From Someone Who Knows: Paul Simon on Songwriting

           Richard Harrington, "Music, Lyrics in Their Best Order"

A Genre You Know: Songs

            The Zombies, “A Rose for Emily”

            Fiona Apple, “Sleep to Dream”

            The Magnetic Fields, “ I Don’t Want to Get Over You”

            Arctic Monkeys, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”

            The Decemberists, “The Crane Wife 1 and 2”

A Genre You Might Like to Know: Spoken-Word Poetry

                        Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, “Lit”

                        Vince Cavasin, “I have not gone marking (with apologies to Pablo


                        Debora Marsh, “Unbreakable Glass--a poem for my daughter”

                        Scott Woods, “I, Nightmare”

Knowing Where We Come From: Oral Literature

Writing About Your Experience with Literature

Songs with Literary References: A Selective List


12 Exploring the Alternative: Getting to Know Experimental Literature

From Someone Who Knows: Claes Oldenburg on Experimental Art

An Experimental Artist You Know: Eve Ensler, dramatist

Experimental Artists You Might Like to Know: Lydia Davis and Chris Bachelder

                        Lydia Davis, “Boring Friends,” “A Mown Lawn,” “Interesting,” and

   “The Old Dictionary”

                        Chris Bachelder, “Blue Knights Bounced from CVD Tourney,” “My

                           Beard Reviewed,” and "Notes Toward the Lay Report on the Joy Debt"

 Knowing Where We Come From: The Experimental Poetry of Gertrude Stein

§          Want to Know More? A Suggested Reading List of Experimental Writers

            Writing About Your Experience with Literature





Part IV            Research for Writing


13 Developing a Topic and Stating a Thesis

            Choosing a Text

            Read. Re-read. Read again.

            Posing a Research Question

            Answering Your Question with a Tentative Thesis

            Conducting Preliminary Research

            Assignment: Drafting a Proposal

            Sample Student Writing: A Research Proposal by Erin Christian


14 Finding and Evaluating Sources

            Considering Research Sources

            Beginning Your Research and Developing Search Terms

            Interlibrary Loan

            Locating Background Information

            Locating Literary Criticism

            Locating Historical and Cultural Works

            Evaluating Sources

            Ask the Expert!

            Taking Good Notes

            The Reading/Research Dialectic

            A Tentative Timeline: 10 Steps to a Successful Research Project

            Assignment: Writing an Annotated Bibliography

            Sample Student Writing: An Annotated Bibliography by Erin Christian


15 Understanding Critical Perspectives

Reading the Critics

A Quick Look Back at Schools of Critical Thought

A Critical Casebook on Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art”

            Reading 1: Excerpt from Joanne Fiet Diehl, Women Poets and the American   Sublime

            Reading 2: Excerpt from Elizabeth Dodd, The Veiled Mirror and the Woman Poet

            Reading 3: Excerpt from Susan McCabe, Elizabeth Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss

            Reading 4: Excerpt from Anne Colwell, “Geography III: The Art of Losing”

A Critical Casebook on Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson”

            Reading 1: Jerome Cartwright, “Bambara’s 'The Lesson'”

            Reading 2: Excerpt from Janet Carey Eldred, “Narratives of Socialization:

            Literacy in the Short Story"

            Reading 3: Excerpt from Janet Ruth Heller, “Toni Cade Bambara’s Use of

            African American Vernacular English in ‘The Lesson’”

            A Critical Casebook on Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie

                        Reading 1: Tennessee Williams, “How to Stage The Glass Menagerie”

                        Reading 2: Excerpt from Lewis Nichols, Review

                        Reading 3: Excerpt from Nancy M. Tischler, Student Companion to

                           Tennessee Williams

                        Reading 4: Excerpt from C.W.E. Bigsby, “Entering The Glass


                        Reading 5: Excerpt from Judith J. Thompson, Tennessee Williams’ Plays


16 Integrating Primary and Secondary Sources

            Some Organizing Principles

            Drafting Body Paragraphs

            Verb Tenses in Writing about Literature

            Integrating Sources



                        Direct Quotation

                                    Quotations that become part of your sentence

                                    Quoting larger amounts of text (block quotations)

            Common Knowledge

            Avoiding Plagiarism

            Sample Student Writing: Erin Christian, On Loss in Elizabeth Bishop's

               "One Art"


17 Using the MLA Style of Documentation

            Preparing to Cite Sources

            Using the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

                        Citations in the Paper

                        Works Cited at the End of the Paper

                        Books and Material from Books

                        Articles from Print Periodicals

                        Electronic and Online Sources

                        Other Media



Glossary of Literary Terms

Student Biographies




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