Literature Analysis

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Assignment Prompt

You’ve been appointed the student member of the college-wide committee to revise the core curriculum. The committee has decided to require that all students enrolled in a community college must take ENG105 and you have been asked to nominate 8 to 10 fiction or poetry selections that will be required reading for at least one section of the course, using the list of readings in the textbook. You are, in other words, constructing the canon.

Think carefully about what constitutes the kind of literature that college students should be reading. Then, write an essay of 1250 – 1400 (without cited material) words nominating the 8 to 10 selections from among those in the textbook. Your essay should have a clear thesis which suggests how you have made your choices. Your essay paragraphs should open with topic sentences giving the title and author and genre of each of your selections, and these paragraphs should be developed with your specific justification of each of your choices (why you have chosen these selections). You may take into account the following issues:

  • To what extent will your choices be made on aesthetic grounds? What are your criteria for excellence in fiction? Have you considered how your own cultural background and past reading affect what you consider aesthetic grounds?
  • Does the background of the author play into your decision making process?
  • Will your choices span centuries? Or will you choose only contemporary fiction from the last 40 or 50 years? What will you expect the stories to demonstrate about the times in which they are written?
  • Will your choices represent a range of writers (male and female, black, white, Hispanic, Native American, straight, gay, American, British, Russian, French, Irish, Greek, Norwegian, and so forth)? Why or why not?
  • Are themes or thematic connections important to you? Should all selections center around a single thematic construct, such as “the move from innocence to experience”?
  • Are social issues important to you? Should the fiction selections reflect a variety of social issues: racism, homosexuality, poverty, sexism, alcoholism, and so forth?
  • Is the list you’ve been given sufficient (from the textbook)? Are there choices you’d like to make that aren’tincluded on our text?

Assignment requirements include:

Your analysis should include a brief description of the theme of the story (without retelling the entire story) and a brief overview of the life and times of the author.

You will need to conduct research to supplement the material in your textbook. The following database sources should be useful:

Artemis Literary Sources

Search the Library’s literature databases, including Literature Resource Center and Literature Criticism Online, for full-text literary works, journal articles, literature criticism, reviews, biographical information, and overviews.

JSTOR Language & Literature 

79 titles that span the literary cultures of many different countries, containing articles in several languages.


Literature Criticism Online

Scholarly and popular literary commentary from broadsheets, pamphlets, encyclopedias, books, and periodicals, including tens of thousands of essays.

Literature Resource Center

Biographical information, overviews, full-text literary criticism, and reviews on more than 130,000 writers in all disciplines, from all time periods, and from around the world.

Salem Press Literature eBooks

Complete content of printed reference sets, searchable by series or by subject.

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