using the form of a letter to the author, discuss the issue and identify what especially engaged you in their text, and why. This might start with a personal reaction but needs to go on to question/explore/interpret the issue. Be specific: support your ideas with examples for the text.
We will be looking for a focused analysis in your letter. We are expecting you to consider the many ways the text extends, or deepens your understanding of the issue that has taken your attention. What does it reveal? What do you learn about ‘being human’ when you consider this issue? What is significant about this, in your view?
Ideas for issues: you might focus on a particular human problem (imperfect love, for instance) or situation that you think the author is exploring (how the past haunts the present) ; an idea in the way characters are presented and behave; an idea expressed by the way the story is structured. Alternatively, you may wish to analyse the language and/or form of the work. If you focus on language or form, you might consider how specific structures or use(s) of language create a deeper level of meaning/significance that help you to better understand the richness of the text and suggest something about human experience.
As you read, read with questions, search for clues. These sample questions should help you to get started: did the text lead you to think differently about the world, about being human or about writing as a creative process? Did it deepen, or confirm, views you now hold? Did it challenge you to see things differently? If so, how? Why do you think this is important? How did the author achieve this through narrative, character interaction and/or structure and language?
A word of advice regarding form for this assignment:
Obviously, this assignment does not require you to write a conventional academic essay. Instead, what we are looking for is a thoughtful, interpretative, critical response to the book you choose. Our grading sheet is available on the course website and shows how your letter will be evaluated.
Components of your letter should include:
1. an introductory passage where you introduce your considerations (about one paragraph in length).
2. a section where you present your analysis (including your questions) using examples from the text.
3. a concluding passage where you sum up your ideas. (Imagine the author reading your letter.) You may wish to conclude with questions that arise from your discussion.
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