Literature Introduction

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Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing
by Roberts and Jacobs
Mary F. Clifford, Instructor

English Composition III

What Is Literature and Why Do We Study It?
• Literature is
– Composition that tells a story, dramatizes a situation, expresses emotions, analyzes and advocates ideas – Helps us grow personally and intellectually – Provides an objective base for knowledge and understanding – Shapes our goals and values by clarifying our own identities, both positively and negatively – Literature makes us human.

Genres
• Four genres of literature:
– Prose fiction
• Myths, parables, romances, novels, short stories

– Poetry
• Open form and closed form • Relies on imagery, figurative language, sound

– Drama
• Made up of dialogue and set direction • Designed to be performed

– Nonfiction prose
• News reports, feature articles, essays, editorials, textbooks, historical and biographical works

Guidelines for Reading Literature
• First reading
– Determine what is happening, where, what, who is involved, major characters – Make a record of your reactions and responses – Describe characterizations, events, techniques and ideas

• Second reading
– Trace developing patterns – Write expanded notes about characters, situations, actions – Write paragraph describing your reactions and thoughts – Write down questions that arise as you read (in the margins)

Writing a Precis
• Precis = a concise summary = paraphrase
– Retell the highlights so reader will know main sections – Only essential details – they must be correct and accurate – Must be an original essay, written in your own words – Be sure to introduce the title and author – Avoid judgments – Use present tense when retelling a story

Elements of Fiction
• Essence of fiction = narration (the telling) • Elements of fiction = verisimilitude and donnee – Verisimilitude = realism
• Must be compelling enough that the reader can “suspend disbelief”

– Donnee = premise
• Something given by which you can judge the realism = ground rules

• Sources of elements
– Character, plot, structure, theme, symbolism, style, point of view, tone, irony

Plot and Structure
• Plot = reflection of motivation and causation
– No plot = The king died and then the queen died. – Plot = The king died, and then the queen died of grief.

• Conflict = controlling impulse in a connected pattern of causes and effects – Opposition of two or more people (e.g., hatred, envy, anger, argument, avoidance, gossip, lies, fighting, etc.)

• Dilemma = Conflict within or for one person
– Conflict is a major element of plot because it arouses curiosity, causes doubt, creates tension, produces interest – No tension = no interest

Structure of Fiction
• Structure defines the layout of the work
Crisis

Complication

Climax

Exposition

Resolution (denouement)

Another structural element used sometimes = Flashback

Characters in Fiction
• Character = verbal representation of a human being
– Rounded = lifelike, full, dynamic, reader can predict future behavior because of an understanding of the personality – Protagonist = the hero or heroine, main person in the story, person on the quest, etc. – Antagonist = the person causing the conflict, in opposition to the protagonist, the obstacle, etc. – Flat = no growth, static – Stock = representative of a group or class (stereotypical) – Characters disclosed through • • • • • Actions Descriptions, both personal and environmental Dramatic statements and thoughts Statements by other characters Statements by the author speaking as storyteller, or observer

– Characters need to have verisimilitude, be probable or plausible

Point of View
• Refers to speaker, narrator, persona or voice created by the author to tell the story • Point of view depends on two factors: – Physical situation of the narrator as an observer – Speaker’s intellectual and emotional position

• • • •

First person = I, we Second...
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