literary analysis essay

Write a literary essay that focuses on one or more of the stories we will be reading from and including Ellison’s “Battle Royal.” You may choose your own topic and use the approach of your choice—interpretive analysis, comparison/contrast, explication, or any combination of these—to explore your topic and arrive at your thesis.

Length: 1500 words minimum (not including Works Cited page). Submit as .doc or .docx only.

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Sources/Works Cited: Your paper must have a Works Cited page that contains both the work(s) you’re focusing on (We’ll call these primary sources) and outside sources that will inform your reading of your primary sources (We’ll call these secondary sources). You must use at least three secondary sources. DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA, STUDY GUIDES (E.G., SPARKNOTES, CLIFFNOTES, SCHMOOP), CLASS LECTURES, CLASS DISCUSSIONS, ENCYCLOPEDIA ARTICLES, DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS, OR OTHER WORKS OF FICTION (NOVELS, SHORT STORIES, POEMS) FOR YOUR THREE REQUIRED SECONDARY SOURCES.

Format: Format your papers (Margins, spacing, heading, etc.) according to MLA guidelines. Check the OWL Purdue site in MODULES for help on your paper.

Advice: Write clearly, with close attention to grammar and spelling; Focus your paper upon the development of a clearly stated thesis (this can be done either in your introduction or conclusion); Bring in specific examples from your primary text to back up your points (paraphrase these in most cases); Remember that your main body should be the majority of your paper, so keep your intro and conclusion relatively short.


(You can find all of these in the Oxford Anthology, but you can also find most, perhaps all, of them online. Just do a search with the story title followed by the words full text)

“BATTLE ROYAL” (Ralph Ellison)
“SONNY’S BLUES” (James Baldwin)
“THAT EVENING SUN” (William Faulkner)
“THE RATS IN THE WALL” (H. P. Lovecraft)
“GOOD PEOPLE” (David Foster Wallace)
“HEAT” (Joyce Carol Oates)
“HELL-HEAVEN” (Jhumpa Lahiri)
“FLEUR” (Louise Erdrich)

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