Arguing About Literature: A Guide and Reader
Second Edition   ©2017

Arguing About Literature: A Guide and Reader

John Schilb (Indiana University, Bloomington) , John Clifford (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)

  • ISBN-10: 1-319-03532-9; ISBN-13: 978-1-319-03532-7; Format: Paper Text, 1248 pages

A text that combines thorough treatment of rhetorical and literary analysis with instruction in argument and research. The first two chapters explain what argument is and how to write effective ones.  The next chapter shows how argumentation relates to literary and other texts.  Chapters 4 through 6 explain the reading and writing process and apply them to the genres of fiction, poetry, drama.  Then chapter 7 traces the process of writing from sources to develop researched academic arguments. A final chapter introduces contemporary critical approaches to literature. 

A thematic anthology with unique clusters that focus on literature, argument, and research. Five thematic chapters—on family, love, freedom and confinement, doing justice, and journeys—are built out of sharply focused groupings of readings on compelling issues that engage and provoke students. Four varieties of clusters focus on

  •  Critical comparison of literary works. Each thematic chapter opens with short clusters of classic and contemporary literary works—stories, poems, and plays--that explore issues within the larger theme.  Students are prompted to analyze and compare works on such compelling issues as sibling rivalry, romantic love, harmful stereotypes, and punishments.
  • Linking  literature and argument. At the center of each thematic chapter are “Literature and Current Issues” clusters that juxtapose a literary work with arguments about a hot-button issue raised by the literary work, prompting students to recognize the continuing relevance of literature as they write critically about the issue.
  • Literary criticism.  “Arguments about a Literary Work” present multiple interpretive arguments accompanying  important literary works:  Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” William Shakespeare’s Othello, and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
  • Contexts for inquiry and research. Each thematic chapter concludes with “Contexts for Research,” which feature classic literary works accompanied by essays, arguments, and documents that place the works in cultural context; the readings are followed by inquiry-based assignments that prompt students to extend their research on the topics raised.

Hundreds of writing opportunities throughout. Writing exercises, questions, and assignments prompt students to respond to the readings and try out the techniques they are learning, making every selection in the book an occasion for critical thinking and writing.