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Seminar 3 - CLAS - CLAS 1P95(2011 Seminar 3(Sept.2821...

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CLAS 1P95 (2011) Seminar 3 (Sept. 28‐21): Avoiding Description Lesson: Critical Analysis of a Literary Passage The aim of this exercise is to draw students’ attention to one of the most frequent undergraduate errors in the analysis of literature, namely the descriptive summary, and to differentiate between this and a critical analysis. A descriptive summary is a paraphrase of a literary work. Often a student will add his/her subjective impressions of the passage being considered, but with little or no justification of those impressions. In addition, students frequently “pad” such work with irrelevant information and/or with information that an informed reader can be assumed to know. A critical analysis , on the other hand, identifies how a literary work functions or how a passage from a larger work functions within the whole. One feature of a critical analysis can be a consideration of the formal elements of the genre of literature (i.e. tragedy, hymn, choral ode, prologue etc.) to which the work being analyzed belongs, especially if the author employs such elements in an unusual manner. It may also identify principal themes, images, and motifs, and their relevance for the plot of work and/or for the portrayal of its characters. For seminar, read Euripides’ Hippolytus and the two critical analyses, written by Dr. Nickel, on this handout. One of the two would receive a grade of D/D+ (approx. 56‐58%), the other a grade of B+/A‐ (78‐82%). Your task for seminar is to identify which grade belongs to which passage, to explain why the passages deserve these grades, and to offer constructive criticism for the improvement of each passage. This will involve identifying the weaknesses and strengths of both passages. In order to do this, you will need to have read all of the Hippolytus .
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