Jump to content


Why is literary analysis important?

Recommended Posts

If you find that you want to go deeper than the Figuratively Speaking book, try Essential Literary Terms with Exercises by Sharon Hamilton. We have a link somewhere on here for the elusive answer book, so I will see if I can find it.


For fun, you and your son or just you, might like Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings. I have to admit that when I first heard about this curriculum, I was skeptical about using non-secular materials to teach literary analysis. I don't care to have Christian interpretations attributed to pagan authors as happens with some non-secular curriculum. However, I really like the material in this program and think it is well-done. There are several units that are not directly tied to LofTR, that bring in ancient and medieval classics. We covered "Exploring Epics" in 6th grade, but I have pulled that section out again for review for my 9th grade son while he reads The Iliad and The Epic of Gilgamesh. We didn't bother with the fill-in-the-blank study guides or the vocabulary exercises. You can easily get away with a used first edition teacher's guide. If you enjoy Tolkien's works, this is a delightful way to expand your skills.


FYI - it works both ways. Now that I have spent a couple of years teaching math and science to my kids, I wish I was more literate in both and am slowly working on that. Sometimes I think we do our students a huge disservice to say that they are either STEM or liberal arts. Why not both?


It turns out I had Figuratively Speaking

in the school cupboard. We did 5 chapters this afternoon. (Skipped the "write a paragraph"

assignments--DC was getting it fairly quickly.) It has great literature bits. I will look Essential Literary Terms with Exercises up. Thanks!

I looked at LitLessLORings a while back. It looked intriguing but a little pricey, but I like your idea of

getting a used first edition teacher's guide.

Thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 101
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I believe that most people were not taught to write such analyses. Even my own lycee education was somewhat lacking at that aspect and happened to end up in positivism more than needed (and I will not deny that for some works you need some of the context-based reading - e.g. Dante can hardly be read outside of the context of its genesis - but those are minimal interventions in the big picture of things, and should not be the primary, emphasized point).


The moment you mentioned metaphores, I knew we were on the same page regarding our dislike of that approach :D, unfortunately, it does seem to be the approach that is generally pushed in most schools in Anglo-American world (and it is getting slowly to Europe too). A lot of kids, particularly brighter ones who often figure out that something is "odd" there, grow to detest any kind of intellectual dealing with literature, deciding it is all about a personal gain and emotional reaction... an approach I can understand, if one reads for pleasure. But in an academic context, where a certain amount of "intellectualization" of those things is needed and putting things in the context and the historical development of art, it is a mistake that they insist on it, IMO, because they only push kids away from it, and never consider them "capable", I suppose, of that. The second problem is that the current generation of educators, and maybe even the one before, has suffered greatly in their own academic formation and often lacks skills to approach literary analysis - and of course, one can hardly teach what one does not know. So they go on and on with dumbing down literature in schools.


I believe a lot of kids with analytic minds would enjoy such an analysis and studying literary works from that standpoint. It requires a different type of orientation in a discipline, a lot less "rigid" discipline and a sense of fluidity, yet with some subtle inner rules. It should be done somewhat similar the way Art History is studied in schools when an emphasis on technique is added, the development of technique throughout history, etc. Art education - from painting to music to, yes, literature - used to be a lot more "technic" in the past, emphasizing skill and form and the study of the chronological development of possible forms, rather than philosophizing - from the perspective of other disciplines! - on the content, as it happens today. The word art itself comes from the word which originally stood for craft, for skill, that is its lowest common denominator. The whole of crisis of 20th century has much to do with the shift from skill-based thinking to "meaning"-based thinking. It has its effects in teaching too, as all is basically submitted to the dictature of relativism. But if I get there, I will end up in another soapbox, so I will keep my mouth shut. :D


I do not wonder at all why many people pose this question, why is it important, etc. - I would pose it too. I am just sad with the situation in education in the past two generations. I have my little theories and speculations on how and why things went wrong, but that would require a book LOL.


This is my STEM dd. She hates "literature" now. She sees it as a chore that she is forced to do. She says, "why can't I just read the book and enjoy it?"


I don't have much of an answer for that. "No! No enjoyment for you!" doesn't seem like it will work!

Link to post
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...