How To Write A Literary Criticism Introduction
Table of contentsStep 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices
Step 2: Coming up with a thesis
Step 3: Writing a title and introduction
Step 4: Writing the body of the essay
Step 5: Writing a conclusion
how to write a literary criticism introduction
Your English teacher has told you to pick a work of literature, find literary criticism about it, and then write a paper summarizing your research. Your instructor tells you to find both books and journal articles on your chosen literary work. And finally, you need to set the literary work in its context, meaning you need to say something about the author, his or her life, and why he or she wrote that particular literary work.
Young Adult Literature :: Depending on the work about which you choose to write, finding criticism about YA literature can be challenging. Rather than relying on articles to do your analysis for you, you may have better success finding scholarly sources that discuss literary theory or themes that you can apply to the work you are reading. Remember, you want to do a literary analysis of your work. Do not rely on sociology or psychology resources when writing your papers.
The introduction is the first thing your reader will encounter in your literary analysis essay, so it's essential that you write clearly and concisely. Literary analysis requires the writer to carefully follow a theme, motif, character development or stylistic element and examine its importance within the context of the book. Because literary analysis depends on the writer's interpretation of the text, it's often necessary to convince the reader of your point of view. Writing a strong introduction to your essay will help launch your reader into your main points.
Begin writing the introduction after you have completed your literary analysis essay. This may seem counter-intuitive, but once you have finished enumerating and explaining your main points, you'll be better able to identify what they share in common, which you can introduce in the first paragraph of your essay. You can also begin writing the introduction after completing your in-depth outline of the essay, where you lay out your main points and organize your paper before you begin writing.
Start your introduction with a grabber. In a literary analysis essay, an effective grabber can be a short quote from the text you're analyzing that encapsulates some aspect of your interpretation. Other good grabbers are quotes from the book's author regarding your paper's topic or another aspect relevant to the text and how you interpreted it. Place the quote in quotation marks as the first sentence of the introductory paragraph. Your next sentence should identify the speaker and context of the quotation, as well as briefly describing how the quote relates to your literary analysis.
Keep the body of your introduction relatively short. A paragraph in a literary analysis essay should be between eight and 12 sentences long. In the introduction, write three to four sentences generally describing the topic of your paper and explaining why it is interesting and important to the book you read. These three or four sentences will make up the bulk of your introductory paragraph. Use these sentences to sketch the main points that you describe in greater detail in the body of your essay.
Finish your introductory paragraph with your thesis statement. The thesis statement clearly states the main point of your paper as a whole. It can be one sentence long or span two sentences, but it should always be the very last part of the introductory paragraph. For a five-paragraph essay with three body paragraphs, write one sentence identifying your paper's main point. In the second sentence, called the blueprint, identify the three main topics of each body paragraph and how they support your thesis. For more advanced literary analysis essays, it's not always necessary to enumerate explicitly the main point of each body paragraph as part of your thesis statement. Focus instead on clearly and concisely stating the driving force behind your paper's organization and development.
If you need to write a literary analysis, begin with an outline. It will help you proceed step by step without losing the structure. Think about the peculiar features of the literary text you analyze. Brush up the principles of analytical writing, too.
A book analysis essay summarizes literary research and includes examples, review elements, etc. The purpose of such a paper is to help readers understand the book better. Just like any other essay, it should be appropriately structured: an appropriate introduction, several body paragraphs, a logical conclusion.
Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of literature's goals and methods. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.
Whether or not literary criticism should be considered a separate field of inquiry from literary theory is a matter of some controversy. For example, the Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism draws no distinction between literary theory and literary criticism, and almost always uses the terms together to describe the same concept. Some critics consider literary criticism a practical application of literary theory, because criticism always deals directly with particular literary works, while theory may be more general or abstract.
Literary criticism is often published in essay or book form. Academic literary critics teach in literature departments and publish in academic journals, and more popular critics publish their reviews in broadly circulating periodicals such as The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the Dublin Review of Books, The Nation, Bookforum, and The New Yorker.
Literary criticism is thought to have existed as far back as the classical period. In the 4th century BC Aristotle wrote the Poetics, a typology and description of literary forms with many specific criticisms of contemporary works of art. Poetics developed for the first time the concepts of mimesis and catharsis, which are still crucial in literary studies. Plato's attacks on poetry as imitative, secondary, and false were formative as well. The Sanskrit Natya Shastra includes literary criticism on ancient Indian literature and Sanskrit drama.
Later classical and medieval criticism often focused on religious texts, and the several long religious traditions of hermeneutics and textual exegesis have had a profound influence on the study of secular texts. This was particularly the case for the literary traditions of the three Abrahamic religions: Jewish literature, Christian literature and Islamic literature.
The literary criticism of the Renaissance developed classical ideas of unity of form and content into literary neoclassicism, proclaiming literature as central to culture, entrusting the poet and the author with preservation of a long literary tradition. The birth of Renaissance criticism was in 1498, with the recovery of classic texts, most notably, Giorgio Valla's Latin translation of Aristotle's Poetics. The work of Aristotle, especially Poetics, was the most important influence upon literary criticism until the late eighteenth century. Lodovico Castelvetro was one of the most influential Renaissance critics who wrote commentaries on Aristotle's Poetics in 1570.
However important all of these aesthetic movements were as antecedents, current ideas about literary criticism derive almost entirely from the new direction taken in the early twentieth century. Early in the century the school of criticism known as Russian Formalism, and slightly later the New Criticism in Britain and in the United States, came to dominate the study and discussion of literature in the English-speaking world. Both schools emphasized the close reading of texts, elevating it far above generalizing discussion and speculation about either authorial intention (to say nothing of the author's psychology or biography, which became almost taboo subjects) or reader response. This emphasis on form and precise attention to "the words themselves" has persisted, after the decline of these critical doctrines themselves.
Related to other forms of literary criticism, the history of the book is a field of interdisciplinary inquiry drawing on the methods of bibliography, cultural history, history of literature, and media theory. Principally concerned with the production, circulation, and reception of texts and their material forms, book history seeks to connect forms of textuality with their material aspects.
Today, approaches based in literary theory and continental philosophy largely coexist in university literature departments, while conventional methods, some informed by the New Critics, also remain active. Disagreements over the goals and methods of literary criticism, which characterized both sides taken by critics during the "rise" of theory, have declined. Many critics feel that they now have a great plurality of methods and approaches from which to choose.
Some critics work largely with theoretical texts, while others read traditional literature; interest in the literary canon is still great, but many critics are also interested in nontraditional texts and women's literature, as elaborated on by certain academic journals such as Contemporary Women's Writing, while some critics influenced by cultural studies read popular texts like comic books or pulp/genre fiction. Ecocritics have drawn connections between literature and the natural sciences. Darwinian literary studies studies literature in the context of evolutionary influences on human nature. And postcritique has sought to develop new ways of reading and responding to literary texts that go beyond the interpretive methods of critique. Many literary critics also work in film criticism or media studies. Some write intellectual history; others bring the results and methods of social history to bear on reading literature. 350c69d7ab