The Literature essay assesses a student’s ability to respond to a question about given text or selected texts that will be used to address a specific problem/topic. You may also have completely free choice and select the texts and topics yourself.
The basic purpose of a Literature essay is to demonstrate the ability to read analytically whilst responding with sensitivity to the texts under examination, by use of evidence from literary and critical texts.
Quotation and analysis is essential in a Literature essay and should provide the main evidence in support of points made. It is also important to set your essay in context by displaying knowledge of current thinking on the subject in critical works. As always, all such quotations and opinions should be correctly cited in your referencing and bibliography according to the referencing style you have been instructed to use. Longer quotations should be set out on a separate line following a colon and indented. Shorter quotations (a line or less) should be incorporated within the text, enclosed within inverted commas. If you are quoting poetry, remember to set out the lines as written, if necessary indicating a line break with a forward slash (/).
A common mistake in a Literature essay is simply retelling the story and you should avoid this at all costs. You should try to answer the question by close reference to the text, using supplementary evidence and analysis. Remember that you are trying to build a case to support your points and your quotation and analysis are your evidence. Sometimes you will find that analysis will suggest ideas to you which you may want to pursue but remember to stick to the question.
This is a formal essay and should follow the structure of a formal essay with a brief statement of your response to the question in the introduction, followed by subsequent hooked paragraphs to provide a flowing argument in the main body of the essay. The conclusion should be a brief summation of your points and indicate what direction future research might take.
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