Analysis of Two or More Short Stories with Traditional and Formalist Approaches”

“Grading Rubric”THE ESSAY

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You will write three drafts of an essay, revising each draft by adding summaries of different critical theories and expanding your analyses of two (or more) short stories based on the perspective you gain from each new theory. How does reading from a New Critical as compared to a Biographical perspective, for example, or from a Feminist as compared to a Freudian perspective either change or reinforce your interpretations of the stories? Each draft will be graded separately—simply to give you a clear sense of how you are doing and what sort of revision work you need to put in on the next draft. The second draft will add material to and revise parts of the first. The third will add material to and revise parts of the second. In total, the three drafts combined should amount to approximately ten pages of writing.


There are any number of ways you may want to develop and structure the essay:

· You might focus all semester on tracing step-by-step what you learn about each new critical theory, how each theory contributes to or affects your understanding of the short stories, and develop a thesis, a debatable opinion, on the differences among the theories for you as a reader. Do you prefer reading from a Psychological perspective? Does a Feminist interpretation offer insights that a traditional interpretation doesn’t? Raise and answer some such question like these.

· You might focus on developing a thesis about one or another element in “Everyday Use” and / or “The Storm” and / or “The Lady with the Pet Dog.” This might be something like the papers you wrote in ENGL 102. Offer an analysis of two (or more) characters, for example. What are your opinions, your thoughts, about them when you analyze their behavior and relationships, etc., from a Biographical perspective? Does your analysis of them change or is it re-enforced when you view them from a Formalist, and then a Psychological, and then a Feminist perspective? What does each critical theory contribute to your understanding of a character like Dee or Calixta or Gurov? Or how is your sense of each story’s imagery or narrative point of view or themes affected as you examine the literary text in the light of different critical theories?

· You might focus on a thematic issue itself—develop a thesis about, for example, the value or restrictions of family: To what degree does family support and nourish an individual? To what degree does it limit a person and hold them back? What are your thoughts about that issue? How does reading Walker, Chopin, and / or Chekhov from one and then another critical perspective affect and contribute to your ideas about one or another issue that these authors raise in your mind?

· NOTE: You should include discussion of “Everyday Use” in all three drafts. You may choose to write about “The Storm” AND / OR “The Lady with the Pet Dog” in each draft. You can write about all three stories in every draft? You can write only about “Everyday Use” and one other story in every draft. You can write about “Everyday Use” and “The Storm” in your first draft then add some discussion of “The Lady with the Pet Dog” to your second. And so forth.



Analyses of Two or More Short Stories with Traditional and Formalist Approaches

Due No Later than 11:59 pm on Friday (10/16)

4-5 Pages

20% of Grade for Course


This first draft should include the following:


· A summary of Formalist theory. How does it differ from older, traditional approaches to reading literature? What are its primary assumptions? Reference Tyson long with my handouts on “Traditional Approaches to Literary Criticism” and “Introduction to New Critical / Formalist Criticism” to clarify your understanding of Formalist theory.

· A brief summary of “Everyday Use” and / or “The Storm” and / or “The Lady with the Pet Dog.” Refresh your reader’s memory of the elements of each story: what happens, the main characters, etc. But keep in mind that it is not necessary to retell the entire story. Assume that your reader is already familiar with it.

· A summary of the Formalist analysis of “Everyday Use” you have gotten from Tyson and / or my handouts and /or from your own close reading. How does a Formalist approach interpret Walker’s story? How does such an interpretation differ from that of one or another more traditional approach?

· Some citation on your part of specific passages in Walker’s story that seem to offer evidence in support of or against the Formalist interpretation you have explained. What conclusions might such an approach lead you to draw about some element of the story: What might you conclude about a character? A theme or issue the story raises? Its point of view? Its relevance to you and other readers today?

· Your own Formalist analysis of “The Storm” and / or “The Lady with the Pet Dog.” Based on your examination of detailed passages, offer some conclusion about the story or stories—your interpretation of a character, an image, a theme: this should include a comparison with your conclusions so far about “Everyday Use.”

· An Introduction that focuses attention on the primary idea or overall point you have come to so far—on some thesis you might argue about a critical approach, for example, and what it leads you to think or understand about the literary texts we are reading. Perhaps a Formalist approach leads you to understand something about a character’s motives; perhaps it helps unravel a story’s theme; perhaps it illuminates the role played by the setting or a pattern of imagery in the story or the narrator’s point of view. If you adopt a Formalist approach, what do you learn about the story? What are the insights but also perhaps the blind spots of such an approach?

· A Conclusion that comments on your main point and suggests a direction for further study.


How you organize all this and what details you analyze in order to develop your ideas is up to you. But the draft should have a unified focus, reflected in its title, and coherent transitions connecting one idea or illustration to the next. It should include PARENTHTICAL PAGE REFERENCES to all passages, ideas, examples that you cite from Tyson and other sources, from the texts of the short stories, and from any outside research you decide to explore and include in your discussion. No additional research is required—but if you rely on additional research, you MUST document it properly using MLA Conventions.

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