The Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment
The Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment asks you to demonstrate your understanding of a literary text (or texts) that you have studied in detail in your English Language Arts 30–1 course. The assignment is a further exploration of the topic introduced in the Personal Response to Texts Assignment. You are expected to write about how the assigned topic is reflected in the ideas developed by the text creator. You are expected to write a thoughtful, well-developed composition in which you synthesize your thinking about both the assigned topic and your interpretation of your chosen text. Your composition will be assessed on the basis of your ability to express your understanding of the literary text, to relate that understanding of the text to the assignment, and to support your ideas with evidence from your chosen text.
In this assignment, you must focus your composition on a text or texts other than those provided in the examination booklet. Compositions that refer only to the texts provided in the examination or that make no reference to literature studied are assessed as Insufficient. A composition will also be assessed as Insufficient when so little has been written that it is not possible to assess Thought and Understanding and/or Supporting Evidence, or the marker can discern no evidence of an attempt to fulfill the writing task presented in the assignment.
When considering which text to discuss, select a literary text that you have studied thoroughly, that you know well, that is meaningful to you, and that is relevant to the assigned topic. Texts which have literary merit and complexity of theme and style provide you with the opportunity to produce a persuasive critical / analytical response that contains insight and substance. If you choose a text that has not been studied in depth in the classroom or that lacks literary merit and complexity, you reduce your chances of producing a critical / analytical response that will meet the standard for the English Language Arts 30–1 diploma examination. If you are challenging the course and have been out of the classroom for some time, you are strongly encouraged to choose a text from the approved English Language Arts 30–1 list of short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, or films.
The time suggested for you to complete the Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment, including time for Personal Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s), is approximately 11⁄2 to 2 hours.
The Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment is worth 30% of your total examination mark (Parts A and B combined) and is assessed according to five scoring categories: Thought and Understanding and Supporting Evidence (each worth 7.5% of your total examination mark) and Form and Structure, Matters of Choice, and Matters of Correctness (each worth 5% of your total examination mark). A response assigned an Insufficient, for any reason, receives a score of zero in all categories.
INSUFFICIENT Critical / Analytical Response to Text Assignment
• the student has written so little that it is not possible to assess Thought and Understanding and/or Supporting Evidence OR
• no reference has been made to literature studied OR
• the only literary reference present is to the text(s) provided in the first assignment OR
• there is no evidence of an attempt to fulfill the task presented in the assignment.
Suggestions for Writing the Critical / Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment
Be sure that your selection and treatment of the literary text reflect and develop the assigned topic in enough detail to sustain a thorough discussion of both the topic and the text at the English Language Arts 30–1 level. You must be able to provide sufficient significant and relevant supporting evidence from your chosen text to illustrate your ideas logically and persuasively. Your discussion must demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the literature as well as your response to it. (See Appendix A of this guide for a short list of texts that students often reference on diploma examinations.)
If you choose to support your ideas with more than one text, make sure that each text purposefully supports and develops the unifying or controlling idea in your response. As well, state clearly your reasons for using more than one text on the Initial Planning page and/or in your response itself. A general guideline is to provide equal treatment of each text that you reference. Consider carefully why you are examining a second text before you make it part of your response.
Remember, markers do not read compositions written on literary texts they do not know well. Be cautioned, however, that choosing texts that are rarely studied in English Language Arts 30–1 classrooms may make it challenging for the examination manager to find markers who are familiar with such texts during any given marking session. On the Initial Planning page, identify the text that you will discuss in your response. Use the Personal Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s) section of the Initial Planning page to clarify your reasons for choosing the literature you have identified. Markers will consider the ideas presented in the Personal Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s) when considering the effectiveness of your supporting evidence.
The Personal Reflection on Choice of Literary Text(s) is intended to help you to clarify the ways in which the topic is addressed by the text you select. As you reflect, you may become more confident, or you may decide your initial choice restricts your ability to discuss the topic or does not provide sufficient supporting evidence for an effective discussion. Use your time efficiently to allow for time both to plan and to write a prose composition using supporting evidence from a literary text that addresses the topic and demonstrates your detailed understanding.
When planning, carefully consider your controlling idea or how you will create a strong unifying effect in your response. Develop your ideas in a manner that will effectively communicate your literary interpretation and understanding to the reader. Your supporting evidence must relate clearly to the topic and support your literary interpretation. Use only those events, circumstances, or details that support or enhance your discussion.
Do not merely retell the sequence of events in the text. Show that you have deliberately chosen support to reinforce your ideas. Make sure that your evidence accurately represents the literary text. Carefully integrated supporting evidence such as quotations or paraphrases will show the reader that you appreciated the significance of the literary text you have chosen. However, supporting evidence—while it is a significant requirement of the assignment—does not speak for itself. The function of evidence is to illustrate or illuminate an idea that you have expressed in your own words.
Generally, it is best not to quote from a text unless (1) the quotation lends greater authority to an idea than a paraphrase would or (2) the quotation is so significant or so emphatically stated that a paraphrase would not capture the eloquence of the text. Paraphrase whenever the exact words are not as important as the details they present. Practise the skillful integration of supporting evidence, and refer to your English Language Arts handbooks for guidance regarding embedding quotations and avoiding plagiarism when you summarize or paraphrase.
You should be cautious about embedding lengthy quotations, footnotes, or references into first- draft writing because they often impede the unifying effect and the creation of an authentic voice. Providing bibliographic information or page references for your supporting evidence is not required in your composition and may consume time you might use better in other aspects of your preparation for and writing of the examination.