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Literary Analysis: Writing About Literature

This guide lists sources that will help you identify books, articles and other resources on an author and/or specific literary work.

Writing about Literature-What is Literary Criticism

What is literary criticism?

How do I write a literary analysis?

Broadly speaking, literary analysis contextualizes a close reading of a text. That close reading could take on many forms. You could look at plot, character, narrative device, literary device, genre, symbolism, language, point of view, etc. In essence, you will take a part of the book and contextualize it by applying some sort of convention on to it. Those conventions could be a social or historical event or time period, a theory, philosophy, or school of thought.

Perspectives for Literary Analysis to consider:

  • plot
  • genre conventions (adherence to and/or deviation from)
  • setting
  • narration
  • point of view
  • characterization
  • symbolism
  • metaphor
  • irony/ambiguity
  • historical context
  • social, political, economic contexts
  • ideologies

  • literary theories, schools of thought
  • theme
  • style
  • imagery
  • tone
  • the author’s life
  • medical diagnoses
  • geography  
  • critical orientation
  • staging (for theater and film)
  • "page to film" comparisons
  • cross cultural analyses


Intro. to Literary Analysis

Don't know where to start when writing a literary analysis?

This presentation by Purdue OWL is a great introduction/refresher and points out key elements to remember when writing a literary analysis. 

Your Librarians

Don Simmons Jr.'s picture
Don Simmons Jr.
Library - Room 118
(914) 606 - 8592

Your Librarians

Jessica Tagliaferro's picture
Jessica Tagliaferro
Harold L. Drimmer Library
Room 132
Profile Photo: Plot by José Damasceno at Holborn Library, London