If you read the primary literature (fiction, drama, poetry, and essays) and react to it directly, you’ll probably do a better job. From my standpoint, I would prefer that you use your own intellectual abilities rather than your relying on an "expert" to do your thinking for you. Why regurgitate when you can offer your own fresh perspective? You’ll be forced to think for yourself for the unit tests, so you might as well practice with your journal entries. However, if you must use sources, read and commit to memory the section on research and sources for the literary journal (Section II.G of this packet) and the section on academic honesty (Section II.A). In any case, you are responsible for all the material on sources (Section II.G.2) and the meaning of plagiarism; ignorance of the rules governing research will not be accepted as an excuse.
Some Ideas for Developing Entries in a Literary Journal*:
1. Converse with specific points in the text that strike you, either positively or negatively (Be careful here: this option could easily end up being a plot summary of the text, which is boring to read, given that I have already read the original).
2. Write about any personal connections that you have with the reading.
3. If the piece raises an issue for you, write a letter (possibly to an editor of a newspaper) in which you take a "stand," for or against the issue.
4. Compose a prequel (incidents occurring beforehand) or a sequel to a story, poem, or play. (This option is NOT available for non-fiction.)
5. Rewrite a work or part of a work from a point of view ("I," "he/she," or "you") different from that presented in the original text. (NOTE: If you choose to assume the persona of a literary character, please note this at the end of the passage. (This option is NOT available for non-fiction.)
6. Rewrite a work or part of work into a different genre, for example, a poem into a story, a story into a poem, a play into a story, etc. (This option is NOT available for non-fiction.)
7. Explicate a poem (see pages 1510-1511 in your textbook).
8. Write your own poem (free verse, sonnet, villanelle, or rhyming couplets, etc.), using an assigned poem from one of the five categories in your textbook ("Growing Up and Growing Older," "Women and Men," "Money and Work," "Peace and War," or "Varieties of Protest") as a springboard for your own original poem. For a 20-point entry, explicate your own poem (#7).
9. Borrow an incident or theme from an assigned work to write a piece of your own based on a similar incident or theme.
10. Do a character study of the main character in a story, poem, or play (This option is NOT available for non-fiction).
11. Do a character study of the narrator in a poem that is written in the first person ("I").
12. If you are artistically inclined or would like to try your hand at drawing, draw a graphic version of one of our short assigned readings (EXCEPT the already graphic pieces in your textbook), complete with dialogue balloons (for examples, see "Hypothetical Quandary," Harvey Pekar [author] and R. Crumb [artist], 663-666, and excerpt From Persepolis, "Introduction" and "The Dowry," Marjane Satrapi, 1104-1119. These are not assigned readings, but just examples of how graphic [pictorial] literature works.)
Discuss how the literary focus--e.g., point of view, characterization, setting, etc.--changes when the piece of literature shifts from plain text to text enhanced by visual representation.
*Some ideas are from: Schwiebert, John E. Reading and Writing From Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997. 34.
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