This book gives students an answer to the question, “What does my professor want from this essay?” In lively, direct language, it explains the process of creating “a clearly-written argument, based on evidence, about the meaning, power, or structure of a literary work.” Using a single poem by William Carlos Williams as the basis for the process of writing a paper about a piece of literature, it walks students through the processes of reading, brainstorming, researching secondary sources, gathering evidence, and composing and editing the paper.
Writing Essays About Literature is designed to strengthen argumentation skills and deepen understanding of the relationships between the reader, the author, the text, and critical interpretations. Its lessons about clarity, precision, and the importance of providing evidence will have wide relevance for student writers.
“I am a student at the University of Kansas studying English and American Studies, and this may be a bit unorthodox, but I wanted to say that your book Writing Essays About Literature was one of the best books I have ever read in the world of academia! I am taking a Critical Theory class, and we were assigned only the first 55 pages, but I really could not put the book down. Your writing is magnificent, and I am constantly referring to the book when writing papers. You have done a brilliant job making essay-writing easy, structured, and actually enjoyable!” — Lauren Gaylor, University of Kansas
“Katherine O. Acheson’s Writing Essays About Literature is a concise, fully portable and very well-priced guide that gets it right. Acheson’s emphasis on inductive reasoning is wonderfully refreshing. It really helps English professors persuade their students to argue from the specific to the general, to found their arguments on the details of evidence and on the careful—and affectively sensitive—analysis of that evidence. And the very best thing about this book is that Acheson’s casual and unassuming prose style makes students want to read it. And they do. And then they bring it to class!” — Glenn Clark, University of Manitoba
“For those of us interested in teaching writing through literature, Katherine O. Acheson’s guide is an indispensable companion, teaching students that writing is more about process and less about imagined giftedness. The book begins by teaching students how to perform a close reading of a text—a craft that every writer should learn to hone. After this groundwork has been laid, Acheson builds upon it with chapters on research, analysis, methodology, argumentation, and revision; all of this from an author whose writing style is clear, witty, and intelligent.” — Jack R. Baker, Spring Arbor University
“Writing Essays About Literature is a useful and refreshingly entertaining guide for both students and instructors. The focus on one poem (the eminently teachable ‘This Is Just to Say’) allows for a comprehensive dissection of the process from initial reading and response, to final polish of an argument grounded in current modes of critical analysis. Acheson’s witty, subjective style is consistently engaging, and reminds students that instructors are also readers and writers; that they too constantly revisit and refine these processes.” — Gisèle M. Baxter, University of British Columbia