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Instructions for First “Set of Three” Stories: Critical Reads (Fiction):
Summary overvivew, Literary elements/devices, and Interpretation/Reflection
What Is a Critical Read, Summary, Interpretation/Reflection?
The two “Critical Reads” Assignments are “application” opportunities in which apply your own literary insights/analysis to three (3) stories you select independently. In other words, locate three (3) compelling stories with rich literary merit that to which you also bring high interest/close reading.
Each Critical Read will consist of three sections:
In the first section, clarify the setting and plot of the story and describe the roles and character traits of the major character(s) within the story. Keep in mind that “setting” involves more than place and time – it also invites historical, social, cultural, and economic contexts; with your summary of the story’s plot (or if non-linear, the circumstances), let the reader know significant plot points, follows a version of the Freytag Pyramid, or seems to have a “turn.”
In the second section, address the “literary craft” of the story. Provide key theme(s) or a motif; ask what broader social issue (i.e. an issue of importance in the real world, outside the realm of the story). Then, identify three (3) literary elements/devices with “textual evidence” as your examples.
Nota bene: There’s seldom one right or wrong approach in analyzing literary themes. Look for evidence of what you consider a key social issue; cite a brief example of textual evidence to back up your analysis.
In the third section, reflect on your takeaways. You may use the first person pronoun “I” as you write this section. In reflecting on the “so what?” the reader may consider the “lenses” through which writers/authors explore social issues that underlie the story, including authorial statement(s) on class, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political/social power, economic disparities, etc. Consider as well that artists, poets, novelists, dramatists, etc. invite the reader to apply what C. Wright Mills calls the sociological imagination.
Each Critical Read should be three (3) paragraphs in length but, as needed, you may write more. To recap, this “First Set” consists of three (3) independently read selections of short stories (fiction).
By the end-of-term, you will have read six (6) literary selections independently for your Critical Reads — 3 for the First Set, and 3 for the Second Set. (The second CR set will be on poetry, a play, &/or non-fiction – date TBA).
The first set of Critical Reads is DUE Oct. 3 and requires that you select stories that have not been discussed/assigned to read in class during the first Unit of our course. Your readings will give you the opportunity to apply textual analyses you’ve practiced in the course Discussions. Please email me in D2L by 9/29 which stories you select (no “short shorts,” compressed/brief fables or tales).
How Will Your Critical Reads Be Graded?
These Critical Summaries will be graded based on their thoughtful development of literary analysis, incorporation of textual support, and inclusion of literary elements of craft (literary devices, style, etc.).
Even though the structure of the Critical Reads calls for a min. of three (3) paragraphs only, it is expected that your Critical Summaries sections will be substantive. If you need to write added paragraphs to address one of the sections, you may do so.
Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics WILL significantly affect your grade, so make sure to carefully proofread and edit your work. Thus, I require that you submit your DRAFTS to a virtual Writing Center consultant for feedback and review before submitting your work.
You may not use ANY sources beyond the stories themselves for these summaries. Instead, the purpose of these summaries is to help you develop your own understanding of the literary texts covered within this course. As part of the submission process, these submissions will be checked for any potential use of sources (using an integrated tool powered by Turnitin). If you are found to have used sources, this will constitute plagiarism and will result in failure of the course.
IMP: Prior to submitting to Assignments, each set of Critical Reads MUST be edited and proofed ruthlessly. I recommend that you make an Appt. with a Writing Consultant for feedback/review in BC’s Writing Center (WC).