Literary Analysis and Discovery

Many of us are familiar with literary analysis. Maybe some of us even loath writing literary analysis. I can sympathize with that feeling. After all, literary analysis seems to be an ephemeral exercise in asserting a personal opinion which most likely doesn’t align with the reason for an author writing a work. I was on this side of the fence for a long time. At this point, you may be asking why I’m an English major if I feel this way, but that’s a story for another time. People change, and my feelings for literary analysis have shifted. Writing literary analysis has become a personal journey of discovery, but how did I come to this way of thinking?

First, I think it is necessary to examine how I approached writing literary analysis before I thought of it as a journey of discovery. If this was before. I would simply read a work and immediately have a conclusion about the meaning of the story. Then, I would write a paper based on my assumption of what the story means by finding passages which coincided with what I believed. And after finding a million passages, my paper would be complete with me not having learned much or really feeling all that accomplished.

Compare this to my approach to literary analysis now. The first difference would be my initial assumption after finishing a work. I try not to have a knee jerk reaction to the meaning of a work. This forces me to go back through the work and find common themes, motifs, symbols, and other literary techniques the author employed and examine them. By examining these techniques, a pattern is revealed. This is much different than my previous technique were I was attempting to force my own, knee jerk reaction onto the work. Doing this, you can look at literary analysis as a journey of discovery where little bits of a path are revealed until you come to the end.

I think this approach to literary analysis has given me a new appreciation for it, and honestly, it makes literary analysis so much more enjoyable. Before approaching literary analysis in this way, I would loath writing papers. Those papers almost seem combative or argumentative, trying to force the reader into believing me. Now, my papers act as a guide to the reader. I think using this method for literary analysis is much more true to the purpose of an author as well. Most authors purposely leave little remnants and literary techniques scattered throughout their works. Going back after an author and discovering these remnants makes for not only a more interesting process for writing, but also a way for you to discover what a work means to you personally. And while I think literary analysis is academically important, it can also reveal your thoughts and opinions on important subjects, which is why books are so vital in a society where it is hard to find who you are.

Intern Spotlight: Josh Vaughn

Hello, blog patrons! My name is Joshua Vaughn, but most people just call me Josh—unless you’re my mom or younger brother. In that case, it’s Joshua Kane. Since beginning college, my goal was to intern at the University Press, so I’m ecstatic to be working here this summer. Currently, I’m an upcoming senior at UNG, and I’m majoring in English, Writing and Publication and minoring in Japanese.

I wanted to work at the University Press not only because of the knowledge I will gain, but also because of the Press’ mission to provide Open Educational Resources (OERs) to students. As a student, this mission is close to my heart. I believe all students should have easily accessible course materials, and the University of North Georgia Press makes this possible.

In my free time, I like playing video games or hanging out with friends. Sometimes though, I just like to sit on my couch and binge watch Netflix while snacking on something—usually ice cream or extra toasted Cheez-its. Here are some other things about me:

  • I have played guitar since middle school
  • I love a good western movie or book
  • My favorite author is Hunter S. Thompson
  • My favorite color is orange
  • I can’t pick a favorite movie, but some I enjoy are The Machinist, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Mean Girls (don’t tell anyone about that last one)
  • I have all my wisdom teeth

After graduating, I want to teach English in Japan for a year or two before coming back to the United Sates. When I get back, I would like to work at a publishing house or press—hence the internship at the University Press. My life aspiration is not wealth, but to work somewhere I can clock out and not have to deal with work until the next morning. Thanks for taking the time to learn about me, bye!