Written by Mrs. Sharon Williams, Junior and Senior Literature Teacher

Webster's defines literature as "writing in prose or verse regarded as having permanent worth through its intrinsic excellence; the entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people, etc." That covers a lot of area! I must thank my own junior English teacher for my philosophy of how I present literature to my own students. He never said it directly, but in his combined American Literature/American History course (a two-hour block) I realized that you cannot understand what people write without knowing what they are living through.

Our AP Senior-level research project is an extended literary analysis. I save it for the end of their senior year because I want them to have experienced as much literature and different authors as is possible in two years. Both American and British literature text books are written in a chronological manner, therefore, we can easily review a little history as we go along to understand the circumstances inspiring such literature.


This six weeks in the senior AP Literature/English classes, the students wrote extended literary analyses. An extended analysis presents a critical understanding of a literary work (or works). This form of analysis should be based primarily on the students' interpretation of their subject. The students should also refer to the viewpoints of important critics to either support the main idea of their analysis or to offer alternative interpretations about the author. The analysis was also a research paper, so students used reference materials from the internet or library with citations for each source. An effective extended analysis synthesizes information from multiple sources into a thoughtful, unified essay.

Each student was given a list of a select number of English or British authors from anytime in history. Each student chose an author off of the list or came up with a favorite author. Each student had time in the library and also time on the internet to research the author.

After gathering research on the authors, the students began their analysis. Each student was responsible for turning in notes or any other reference material, an outline, a works cited page, and the analysis.

Check out these websites for information about any author:


Literary Analysis | Works Cited | Home