1st Edition

Doing Literary Criticism The Cultivation of Thinkers in the Classroom

By Tim Gillespie Copyright 2010
    320 Pages
    by Routledge


    One of the greatest challenges for English language arts teachers today is the call to engage students in more complex texts. Tim Gillespie, who has taught in public schools for almost four decades, has found the lenses of literary criticism a powerful tool for helping students tackle challenging literary texts. Tim breaks down the dense language of critical theory into clear, lively, and thorough explanations of many schools of critical thought---reader response, biographical, historical, psychological, archetypal, genre based, moral, philosophical, feminist, political, formalist, and postmodern.


    Doing Literary Criticism gives each theory its own chapter with a brief, teacher-friendly overview and a history of the approach, along with an in-depth discussion of its benefits and limitations. Each chapter also includes ideas for classroom practices and activities. Using stories from his own English classes—from alternative programs to advance placement and everything in between—Tim provides a wealth of specific classroom-tested suggestions for discussion, essay and research paper topics, recommended texts, exam questions, and more.


    The accompanying CD offers abbreviated overviews of each theory (designed to be used as classroom handouts, examples of student work, collections of quotes to stimulate discussion and writing, an extended history of women writers, and much more.


    Ultimately, Doing Literary Criticism offers teachers a rich set of materials and tools to help their students become more confident and able readers, writers, and critical thinkers.

    Introduction Chapter 1: Getting Started: Classroom Practices That Support the Study of Literary Criticism Chapter 2: Reader Response Criticism: Beginning with Personal Meaning and Classroom Community Chapter 3: Biographical Criticism: Examining the Relevance of Writers’ Lives and Identities Chapter 4: Historical Criticism: Weighing the Historical Context of Works of Literature Chapter 5: Psychological Criticism: Using Literature to Understand Human Behavior Chapter 6: Archetypal Criticism: Finding the Mythic Resonance in Texts Chapter 7: Genre Criticism: Exploring Classifications and Contexts Chapter 8: Moral Criticism: Probing the Moral and Ethical Dimensions of Literature Chapter 9: Philosophical Criticism: Investigating the Intersection of Literature and Philosophy Chapter 10: Feminist Criticism: Interrogating Gender Issues Helping Students Engage with Challenging Texts Chapter 11: Political or Advocacy Criticism: Engaging with Social Justice Issues Through Literature Chapter 12: Formalist Criticism: Analyzing Writing Craft Chapter 13: Putting It All Together: A Conclusion and Commencement


    Tim Gillespie, recipient of a National High School English Teacher of Excellence Award from NCTE, has written regularly about his four decades in the classroom for a variety of educational publications. Tim is a former president of the Oregon Council of Teachers of English and codirector of the Oregon Writing Project site at Lewis & Clark College. He lives with his family in Portland.