Universal Rubric for Literary Analysis

Sometimes I cheer myself up by watching Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals while I'm grading papers.

Sometimes I cheer myself up by watching Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals while I’m grading papers.

I had collected the essays a few weeks prior. They lay on my desk…ungraded. The dark cloud of ungraded essays cast a shadow over my soul. I sat down at my desk. I “accidentally” nudged them toward the edge of my desk, just above the trashcan. I stopped, put my hands behind my head, leaned back on my chair. While contemplating how nice it would be to rid myself of this curse, I leaned back too far, banged my head on the floor, and lay unconscious.

I was awakened by Aristotle. He just stood, shaking his head reprovingly, without saying a word, which is good because I don’t understand Greek. He picked up the mini-statue of himself off my desk and struck my skull with it, knocking me out again.

When I woke up, I saw on my desk a literary analysis rubric and a note in Greek, which translates as follows: Here is a rubric for a literary analysis essay. It will make grading this stack of essays slightly better than ramming your eye with a soup ladle.

To prove this story’s true, I’ve provided a copy of the rubric he left: Literary Analysis Rubric.

Tips for Using this Rubric

The literary analysis rubric is self-explanatory, but here are some things you may want to prompt your students with before the writing begins or between the first draft and next draft. For a more in-depth examination of how to write a literary analysis, follow the link.

Following is what I would write on the board or PowerPoint or whatever.

  1. Make sure your essay has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The last sentence of your introduction should be your thesis statement. It may look something like this: “The primary theme in (author’s name, title of literary work) is _________________. If you prefer a more active voice, the thesis statement might look something like this: (In (title of literary work), (the author) develops the theme that _____________________________ through his/her use of _____________, ______________, and ________________.
  2. Make sure the thesis statement encompasses the theme–no more and no less– and that the theme is relevant to a modern audience and to a potential audience years in the future. In other words the theme uses evidence from the literary work that applies to situations in the “real world.”
  3. In the body of the essay, be sure to include specific examples, and be sure to explain how these examples relate to the theme you stated in the thesis statement.
  4. Be sure to use transitions to logically connect ideas.

(For more on teaching thesis statements, click it)

What about Non-Fiction Literary Analysis?

This rubric works just as well with non-fiction literature. Instead of using the term “theme,” you can employ “argument.” In addition, you may want to review logos, pathos, and ethos along with logical fallacies.

In case you missed it before: Here is the Rubric for Literary Analysis.

This rubric takes care of the following common core standards.

  • Common Core Writing Standard 1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • Common Core Writing Standard 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in W.9-10.1-3.)
  • W.9-10.5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)
  • W.9-10.9  Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis.
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