Literary Analysis

In this course, we will work to hone our skills as close readers and critical writers through the exploration of Literary Analysis
Designed for

Grade 8-10



Class format

One-on-one and small group (Max. 7 students/class)

Class Introduction

In this course, we will work to hone our skills as close readers and critical writers. Through in-depth discussion and analysis of short stories, poetry, and anovel, we will learn how to advance complex arguments that reflect an awareness of important themesand ambiguitiesin a literary work. In our own writing, we will pay particular attention to crafting strong interpretive sentences, supporting our ideas with textual evidence, and engaging in extended analysis. This course will prepare students for the kind of in-depth discussion and critical writing typical of college preparatory schools in the U.S. 


The course will begin with practice exercises and short responses before culminating in a longer, multi-paragraph essay. By the end of the course, students will learn strategies for effective reading, outlining, drafting, and revision. They will also learn some foundational principles for effective writing, whether in shorter-or longer-form responses. 

Course content

Required texts: 

  • The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story, John Freeman (editor)
  • Poetry will include a range of canonical voices that students are likely to encounter in American college preparatory schools—such as Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop—along with important contemporary voices like Robert Pinsky and Rita Do
1Course introduction: moving from summary to analysis
We will begin with introductory exercises related to close reading, collaborative discussion, and critical analysis
2Analyzing passages in depth/Crafting interpretive sentences
We will focus on interpreting the story closely, paying particular attention to Danticat’s language and to the larger themes it engages.   We will then go over the basic components of a strong interpretive sentence, practicing our own interpretive writing in relation to passages we have discussed.
3Larger themes and literary elements
We will discuss a new poem with an eye to key literary elements like imagery and symbolism.   We will conclude by discussing how to write a strong topic sentence for a longer paragraph. 
4Perspective, Character, and Ambiguity
We will focus on how ambiguities (aspects of a story that can be seen in different ways) shape today’s reading. We will then discuss how to craft an argument about such an ambiguity. 
5Making connections across the text
In this class, we will work to forge connections across the different works of fiction and poetry we have read thus far. We will then discuss comparison-contrast arguments.
6Strengthening Sentence Style and Paragraph Cohesion
After group discussion of today’s reading, we will discuss how to strengthen our written work by avoiding common grammatical errors and sharpening links within an argumentative paragraph
7Crafting Complex Arguments
After discussing the reading, we will focus on two more sophisticated kinds of critical argument (concession-assertion and comparative arguments). We will weigh the larger question of how to accommodate multiple ideas in a single nuanced argument.
8Outlining Effectively
After discussing today’s story, we will focus on effective outlining for a longer writing project, including gathering evidence, generating strong theses, and creating layered interpretation. 
9Revising effectively
We will collaboratively critique and refine our theses and outlines. We will then discuss effective introductory and conclusion paragraphs. We will also discuss strategies for effective revision.
10We will collaboratively consider our first drafts, moving through all of the main elements of writing we have worked on thus far. You’ll then have one last opportunity to revise your essay to create a final product that brings together everything you have learned.

Students and their parents will receive brief feedback after each class, via Teachworks, regarding the student’s general participation in class. Students will also receive feedback on graded assignments via email. At the end of the course, the student will receive a final report card, which thoroughly speaks to their overall participation in the course, including major assignments.


10 classes in total, 90 minutes/class

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