Historical/ Biographical Analysis WORKSHOP
WITH CAMMY SRAY & ALEXA WINIK
Hist./Bio. Analysis– What Is It?
Situating the Text: Using the context surrounding a text to create a “lens” to interpret that text.Context—event in author’s life or historical event/trend that occurred around time of textContext—not information that the text itself provides (though it may allude to)Using the context to inform your reading of a text
Difference from New Critical?
New Critical:textinterpretIn a NC analysis, you start and end with the text--no outside research/pulling from context.Hist/Biographical:contextlenstextinterpretPull from the context to shed light on your readingContext supplements your understanding of the text
Set up your paper to analyze what historical event/trend the author had in mind that he/she viewed as significantIntro:general tension and thesisBody:1) prove that this historical event/trend actually occurred and was prevalent in author’s mind when he/she wrote text2) prove that the event/trend was significant to the author*especially important if the author is addressing an era/event that didnotoccur around the same time author wrote text.*use: autobiography, biography, newspapers, letters, correspondences,etc.3) Use devices to support thesis (Like a NC analysis, but apply/integrate the context)Conclusion
Explain the text as a way the author tried to deal with a personal issue.Intro:general tension and thesisBody:1) Background: prove an issue bothered author significantly at/near time he/she wrote text*use: autobiography, biography, newspapers, letters, correspondences, etc.2.)Text: use devices to support thesis (like NC), but apply/integrate the contextConclusion
Read “Reunion”Look for prevalent literary devices (as you would for a NC analysis).Use your background knowledge to shed light on how the devices function within the storyDevelop some foundational themes
Don’t forget tenets of thesis:interpretive/argumentativespecific/preciseaccuratedeepInclude in your thesis how the author is commenting onA(the relevant element of the context) by usingB(literary device) to sayC(the message of the text)
Texts exist in some framework of historyKnow the framework!Ask1) “What’s happening at this time?”2) “What is author saying about it?”Hist./Biog. Criticism involves authorial intent more than any other criticismCriticisms are distinct, but related
Like any other criticism...ALWAYS go back to the text to prove your thesis!Move fromcontexttextcontextlenstextinterpretThis is not a historical research paperDon’t backseat the textual interpretation!
Remember: Writing style and grammar count. Hugely.Write OUTLINES or POST-OUTLINES.Write MULTIPLE rough drafts.Be clear. Be fluent.Use strong, precise verbs in active voiceBespecificas you discuss the historical context.Bespecificas you connect the historical context to the text itself.ConclusionStress importance of the work in relation to historical event/issue
Literary texts are not created in a vacuum!!!
You’re not alone. The writing center is here!Hours:MWF 1-5 p.m.; T/TH 12:30-5 p.m.M-TH 7-11 p.m. (Yes, we’re open evenings!)Workshop Information Posted Online Here:http://www.cedarville.edu/Offices/Writing-Center/Workshop-Information.aspx