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

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