Literary analyses are essays in which we examine literary texts closely to understand their messages, and interpret their meanings, and appreciate their writers’ techniques” (Bullock, Brody, and Weinberg 62). In a traditional literary analysis, you respond to a poem, novel, play, or short story. That response can be analytical, looking at them, plot, structure, characters, genre, style, and so on. Or it can be critical, theoretical, or evaluative—locating works within their social, political, historic, and even philosophic neighborhoods. Or you might approach a literary work expressively, describing how you connect with it intellectually and emotionally. Or you can combine these approaches or imagine alternative ones—perhaps reflecting new attitudes and assumptions about media. Other potential genres for analysis include films, TV offerings, popular music, comic books and games.

  • Gerald Graff begins his essay with the view that we generally associate “book smarts” with intellectualism and “street smarts” with anti-intellectualism. Graff then provides an extended example from his early life to counter this viewpoint. What do you think of his argument that boyhood conversations about sports provided a solid foundation for his later intellectual life? What support does he provide, and how persuasive is it?


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