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Literature Literary Criticism Paper

Literature Literary Criticism Paper


Unit 1 Literary Criticism Assignment

Let’s look at the instructions for your Unit 1 Lit Crit Assignment, and then we can look at an example.

Purpose: Connect one of the theories of literary criticism that you were introduced to on the Introducing Literary Criticism page to some form of media – whether it be film, music, literature, etc. – that you enjoy or are otherwise drawn to. Then, explore and explain how you think the theoretical perspective is either expressed in or can be applied to your chosen work. Ideally, we’d like you to discuss these ideas with each other with the understanding that your classmates may see or experience media in a very different way then you do; practice curiosity over judgement.


Part 1. Choose one of the Schools of Literary Criticism from Unit 1, besides Reader Response(i.e. ethnic and cultural studies, feminist theory, queer theory, psychoanalytic theory, or structuralism and semiotics).

Part 2. Learn more about your chosen literary theory using the credible, scholarly sources included in this unit:

Part 3. Select a creative or artistic work (e.g. a text, video, artwork, etc.) that you want to apply your chosen theory to. Choose something that is interesting or exciting to you that you will enjoy thinking critically about.

Part 4. First briefly explain some of the key concepts, questions, or ideas of your chosen literary theory, including an in-text citation for your source(s). Remember that any time you use words or ideas from a source, you want to clearly indicate this in your post by enclosing exact words in quotation marks and including a parenthetical citation. Your in-text parenthetical citation would include the author’s surname, a space, and the page number (this is usually found at the bottom of each page of the PDF) in parentheses. A sample quote would look like this:

Anthropological concepts such as “Lévi-Strauss’s study of kinship systems and mythology [can] illuminate[] the specific ways that Structuralism can be applied to symbolic social systems” (Castle 187).

Ensure that your work is scrupulous in its citations and adhered to the standards of academic honesty. Plagiarism, as always, will not be tolerated. Please ask if you have any questions about citation or academic honesty.

Part 5. Then, introduce your chosen media work, and provide a link to it. Finally, discuss how and why your chosen literary theory applies to your chosen artistic/creative media. How does viewing your artifact through the lens of a specific literary theory color the way that we respond to it? How does it change what aspects of the artifact we pay attention to?

Part 6. At the bottom of your post, include an MLA Works Cited-style citation for the source(s) that you used. This will allow you to practice citation for future papers. The sources linked above are from 3 different academic texts. Consult this bibliographic list of these sources.

Grading Criteria:

  • Your understanding and analysis of the literary theory you have chosen, as demonstrated by your short explanation based on your reading.
  • The creative and critical thinking evident in your application of the literary theory to your chosen piece of creative media.
  • Your use of language: your writing should be clear, well-organized, and free from spelling and grammar errors. Any quoted material is integrated logically and grammatically and clearly signaled with appropriate MLA citation. The post represents your original thinking unless otherwise indicated.

This activity may use a different grading rubric than what was used in past activities. Be sure to check the grading rubric before starting.

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I chose feminist theory, and I am applying it to the song “Independent Women, Part I” by Destiny’s Child from 2000. The video for this song is found here:

The song appears to have an overt focus on female self-sufficiency, with its repeated refrain that “I depend on me”–in other words, these women are financially independent, and it’s interesting to consider how the many ways that the video responds to the idea of what the gendered expectations were–and weren’t–for women in 2000.

According to Mary Klages, “For as long as [an assumed] binary structure for assigning social meaning to biologically dimorphic bodies has existed, there have been people who questioned and criticized how their culture constructed gender roles, particularly in cultures where what is gendered female or feminine is valued less or subordinated to what is male or masculine” (29).

The visuals of the video are particularly interesting when considering Klages’ definition, since the women depicted are dressed in ways that are generally culturally considered exclusive to women– colorful, floaty dresses or two-piece glamorous midriff-baring outfits, and stiletto-heeled shoes–but in the setting of the video, the singers all are seated at a corporate-looking conference table. In 2000, and even today, it is unusual to see an all-female executive meeting, while it is far less atypical to see an all-male one.

The lyrics themselves also attribute more traditionally male attitudes and actions to the women singing the song; for example, they sing, “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings” instead of expecting a male partner to buy jewelry for them. The band then invites the listener to join them in their celebration of a degree of self-sufficiency not historically expected of women: “All the women who independent / Throw your hands up at me!”

Destiny’s Child. “Independent Women, Part I.” YouTube, 24 November 2009,

Klages, Mary. Key Terms in Literary Theory. Continuum, 2012.

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