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EN 251: European Literature II

In-Class Exercise

Once you have selected your article, please complete the following:

  1. In the first paragraph, summarize the article’s arguments.
  2. In the subsequent paragraphs, respond to these arguments. How did reading this criticism change or complicate your experience of reading the literary work? What did you learn? What do you disagree with? Be sure to quote directly from both the primary source and your critical article to substantiate your analysis.

Please provide full bibliographic information for your article, in MLA formatting, at the bottom of your response.

In-class exercise …
How to approach an academic article: Engaging with literary criticism

Warm up questions:

  • What is the difference between a primary and a secondary source?
  • Why do we use secondary sources when we write college-level papers?

Unpacking the main ideas:

  1. Start with the title. Analyze its primary idea: What is the “big picture” message?
  2. Be sure to look up any unfamiliar words – academic articles are written in a very elevated style and often contain disciplinary jargon. Sometimes the ideas may be simple, but the language makes it seem “harder than it is.”
  3. Summarize the main point of each paragraph on the left-hand side of the document.
  4. Give your opinion on the argument on the right-hand side of the document. Be aware that the critic at this stage in your college career has more expertise than you do in the field, so while it is okay to react to their ideas and thoughts, you are not on an equal playing field and this dynamic should be acknowledged. (Do you agree with the critic? Does it make you think differently about the primary text? Do you have a different take on the subject?) This would also be a good place to note the page number of any passages from the primary text that support your point of view.
  5. As you’re reading, think about how the author’s thesis is being formed. What types of evidence is the author of the critical article using to build his or her case?