PURPOSE: To continue practicing literary analysis via a specific lens (or combination). You’ll again analyze a piece of fiction using the fundamental premises and rules of interpretation outlined by a school of criticism, but this time you’re going to do extrinsic as well as intrinsic analysis. While you’ll use outside sources to analyze your chosen literary text, you’ll still need to analyze elements of the text. Sometimes textual analysis is lost in service of contextual articles and essays, so you’ll want to ensure you balance both here.

While you need to use several sources aside from the literary text, this isn’t a research paper. Rather, it’s a literary analysis supplemented with several outside sources that will prepare you for the research paper. You will likely have to do very little research as I provide a good deal of source material for you – I want you to focus on why we use certain kind of sources and incorporate them fluidly, not finding them.

***If you choose to write about The Handmaid’s Tale, you will have quick access to multiple critical essays that respond to/analyze the novel. If you choose to write about a film, you’ll have access to multiple theoretical essays that will help you build your approach (and I’ll post a few essays about several of the films as I find them, but you will likely need to find at least one source on the film).


ASSIGNMENT: In a 6-8 page, MLA-formatted paper, analyze a) The Handmaid’s Tale or b) a dystopic film (see choices below).

****Your paper must include direct quotes from your chosen text that support your examples and thesis, a clear and thoughtful thesis (see sample Handmaid paper), direct quotes from your outside sources and a Works Cited page. You must use two but no more than four outside sources.

1.)          You need to use at least one written analysis of your text, whether it’s the novel or the film (“practical criticism”). This is the same thing you’re doing. Ideally, this literary analysis will be your scholarly source. If you cannot find a scholarly source for a film, you can use a popular source – just look for something credible, written through a theoretical lens (ideally Marxism or Feminism, but anything that analyzes race, ethnicity, social class/stratification, identity/identity politics, discourse/politicized language, ideology, sexuality, gender, characterization of women, portrayals femininity and masculinity, etc. can work. You can find a scholarly source on something else.

2. An essay that explores/critiques the genre/subgenre, an author or your chosen theoretical lens – or both. So, a source exploring dystopias (in general or topically), the use of/developments in/responses to the theory. If you don’t use a scholarly source for the above, try to find an appropriate one in this pool.


From the scholarly anthology The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: “Introduction: Utopia, Dystopia and Social Critique” or “The Contemporary Communist Dystopia”

 Profile: Margaret Atwood, The Prophet of Dystopia

3. A recent news article/opinion piece on the novel or your chosen film (or one that explores a major theme in your text (particularly if that news article/editorial intersects you’re your own analysis).

See developing sample paper in Google Docs


(If you want the opportunity to submit a revision, you need to turn in a completed paper on the draft due date – one that meets length and topic requirements.)

FINAL DRAFT DUE DATE:One week after I return the paper to you


Blade Runner

Strange Days

Minority Report

The Running Man

Children of Men

Never Let Me Go

Mad Max Fury Road

Battle Royale

The Road

Logan’s Run

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