"That which is written without effort is generally read without pleasure."  
    Samuel Smith
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An Outline for Instructors...a guide for students.

This outline can be used by both intructors and students alike. Feel free to print or copy this and use it as a template to further your understanding of any known text.

Historical Context
  • When and where was the work first published? Time/place
  • What kind of impact did the work have in that form?
  • What historical details are relevant to understanding the text?
  • How will you integrate historical materials into your teaching the work in question?
Biographical Context
  • What aspects of the author's life enhance our understanding of this particular work?
  • How does this work relate to other works the author has written?
  • Are elements of ethnicity, class, and gender important to consider in relation to this work?
Form and Structure
  • How is the work organized?
  • How is tension built?
  • What elements of style (diction, syntax, tone, POV. literary conventions, etc.) are distinctive to this author?
  • What elements of literary form does this work particulary illustrate?
Themes and Ideas
  • What are the main ideas embodied in the work?
  • How are its themes related to larger social issues?
  • How are these themes distinctive to this particular writer?
Critical History
  • How was this work received when it first appeared (reviews)?
  • What are the main issues that critics have discussed about the work?
  • Has the work been the object of critical critisicm?

Check out my links page to find additional information on any text.