Language Arts: An introduction to literary analysis
2007-2008 for grades 9-12
The class meets once a week for 90 minutes. It is a year long high school language arts class, but will
be divided into two independent semesters. In order to get a full year of high school credit, both
semesters or equivalent are required.
Content of Class
Picasso said, “Art is a lie which leads to the truth.” It is the objective of this course to teach students
how to understand literary fiction which aspires to illuminate some aspect of human life. As such, the
focus of the class is on applying analytical skills to recognize, discuss and write about literary symbols
and patterns. We will review the primary elements of all fiction, including plot, characterization, theme,
point of view, and setting. Then we will delve into the complexities of literary fiction through readings in
poetry, short story, drama and the novella in order to understand the artistic significance of literature.
Students will develop skills in recognizing and analyzing figurative language (symbolism, allegory,
irony, paradox, metaphor), and they will learn how to interpret imagery. Overall, our approach to
reading, discussion and writing is like that of an explorer. Our focus is on discovery and process.
Structure and Expectations
The class time is divided into three sections:
1. a short review of pertinent vocabulary
2. a brief lecture on the reading
3. a longer segment devoted to class discussion.
In order for the discussions to be enlightening, students will be required to complete weekly reading
and writing assignments. The writing assignments intend to provide the students with a deeper
understanding of the reading while giving them practice in both creative and expository writing. The
class explores all three aspects of writing: mechanical correctness, content, and organization.
Emphasis is placed on forming strong opinions which are supported in a clear and organized
Grades are based on class discussion, weekly assignments, two tests and a final paper each
semester. Students can expect to spend 3-6 hours each week on homework assignments. There is no
Class Readings (selections for both semesters – where there is no ISBN number, the material is in
Perrine’s Literature or a handout)
Most of our readings will come from Perrine’s Literature, eighth edition (ISBN# 0-15-507494-6). This is
a very expensive text if bought new, but you can find it used for a lot less (about $15-$25) at used
textbooks sites on the internet.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (isbn#978-345-41001-6)
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (Isbn#0-553-21214-1)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
Oedipus Rex, Sophocles (in Perrine’s)
(isbn # 0-195003748)
Hamlet, Shakespeare (isbn tba)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare
(isbn # 0-8442-5741-9
A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen (in Perrine’s)
The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (in Perrine's)
Short Stories (all in Perrine’s or as handout):
The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell; A&P, John Updike; The Lottery, Shirley Jackson; A
Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor; A Rose For Emily, William Faulkner; Tell-Tale Heart,
Edgar Allan Poe; Miss Brill, Katherine Mansfield; Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne;
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Poetry (in Perrine’s and as handouts)
Selections from Norton Anthology, Sound and Sense, and Perrine’s Literature
Literary Theory (as handouts):
Poetics (selections), Aristotle
How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C Foster
Selections from Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, The Bible, and Edith Hamilton’s
The Matrix, others