Alternatives to Writing a Literary Analysis

1857 McGuffey Readers with instructions for use with Charlotte Mason teaching methods.There are many ways to approach literary analysis, but the default method is usually writing an analytical essay. There are good reasons for this– writing an analytical essay causes students to think critically, organize thoughts, sequence ideas, and compose an acceptable piece of writing. It’s an excellent way to prepare for college writing or a debate team, and it’s good for boosting general literacy and understanding.

However, essay writing is not the only tool for studying literature. Students can benefit from the occasional opportunity to approach the great books in a fresh way, so here are a few alternatives to writing a literary analysis:

  1. Create illustrations through drawing, painting, collage, or other medium.
  2. Do a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book, with brief sketches that recall the main event of each chapter (as a bonus, you can make your illustrated summary into a mini-book). 
  3. Compile a timeline of events that take place in the story; illustrations optional.
  4. Create a character chart that includes each character’s name, the page on which he/she first appeared, and role in the story.
  5. Write a news or feature article based on events in the book. Use correct journalistic format (instructions at the Purdue OWL).
  6. Summarize the plot of a book in poetry or script for a play.
  7. Create a website and social media presence for your main character.

Sometimes a creative writing assignment can be not only a welcome break in a heavy academic load, but also a way of understanding even more insightfully than usual. Feel free to share your own creative ideas in the comment section below.

I’m happy to tell you that the first, second, and third 1857 McGuffey Readers are now available at Everyday Education. Enjoy!

5 Responses

  1. StacyO says:

    Great ideas — thank you!

  2. Carolyn Barr says:

    Thank you for this. It gave me an idea for creating an in class activity in which students play different roles in analyzing a character. I will use this idea for “The Trial of Wing Biddlebaum” the protagonist of Sherwood Anderson’s “Hands.” We will make sure that Wing gets his “due process!”

  1. December 17, 2013

    […] Campbell presents Alternatives to Writing a Literary Analysis posted at Janice Campbell-Taking Time for Things That Matter, saying, “Essay writing is not […]

  2. February 19, 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: