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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Create a document that has a working thesis with one main point and one body paragraph that analyzes one way that gender dynamics manifest in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. Your main point should come from the list of elements (PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED DOCUMENTS FOR THE ELEMENTS)
  2. At the end of your paragraphs, write 2 questions on which you would like a classmate to provide feedback after they have read your draft. Avoid yes/or no questions, or the reviewer is free to simply answer “yes” or “no.”

Here is the link to Susan Glaspell’s Trifles: https://www.one-act-plays.com/dramas/trifles.html

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Suggested Structure

Include a working thesis sentence:
Gender dynamics manifest in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles through ____ and ____ in order to demonstrate the them/consequences of _____________. [use concepts from the Essay 3 Directions]

For the body paragraph:

  • Include a clear topic sentence stating the element (ex: One way gender dynamics manifest in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles is ____ [a historical approach] or [symbol] or [setting] or ….)
  • Explain the element and its manifestation in Trifles. (ex: A historical approach is when….It is often used to….)
  • Provide 1-2 examples with clear textual support. (ex: This approach is specifically used in the text when…..This example demonstrates….Another example….)
  • Analyze the significance, implications, and/or consequences of your findings. (ex: Glaspell uses the the historical approach highlights the consequences of….OR….shows the significance of….)

Contextual Approaches

What is a literary approach?

A literary approach is a “lens” by which we interpret literature. There are three elements in a literary exchange one might consider when making meaning from the text: the source, the text, and the receiver. Some approaches to literature focus on only the material that is contained in the text, separate from external contexts. Conversely, others believe that the text should be interpreted in the context of, for instance, the speaker’s identity, the text’s time period, the particular reader’s experiences, and so forth. There are various approaches to literature, but below is just one to consider as you read a work.

What are some contextual approaches?

Contextual approaches encompass biographical, historical, and New Historical criticism.  In contrast to New Criticism, these approaches are based on the premise that important information exists outside the text.  Most readers cannot help but wonder about who wrote the text, when it was written, and the circumstances under which it was written.  Contextual criticism insists that knowing this outside information will make a reading of a text more informed. 

Biographical Criticism looks for direct connections between an author’s life  and beliefs and his or her writing, although it recognizes that not all works are autobiographical.  Biographical criticism does not assume the writer recognized the connections between his/her life and the text, but the critic will.

Historical Criticism (Historical Approach) looks at the way the historical context of the work itself (the time period during which it was written or which it depicts) can inform our reading of the text.  For instance, the social, cultural, economic, scientific, intellectual, military, and literary history (among others) would be considered in order to determine how what was going on at the time affected what the author wrote, whether he or she recognized it or not. 

New Historicism begins with the assumption that history is not an objective reality since it, too, is no more than a “text.”  That is, a New Historicist recognizes that even history is merely a “story” about the past, someone’s versions of the facts, which means history can be read as subjectively as any text.  So, on the one hand, a New Historicist would look for ways to undermine conventional views on history or historical events.  Yet the impulse behind a New Historicist reading is to discover how “knowledge” is produced at any particular time and place.  Thus, a New Historical reading would look at other texts, such as magazines and newspapers from the period, texts from other disciplines (such as architecture, psychology, criminology, etc),  and popular literature from the time.  The goal would be to expand our understanding of a text by developing a greater understanding of the cultural, sociological, political, and ideological context of the text, linking the text to the culture of its time.

Cultural Criticism  looks at the ways that a specific culture affects the text from which it derives.  For example, texts written by African-American, Native American, Asian-American, Latino, Chicano, and authors from other non-European cultures are often greatly influenced by the history, language, cultures, traditions, and beliefs of the authors’ cultural heritage.  Cultural criticism considers the way those cultural influences enrich our understanding of the texts from these cultures.  For example, cultural criticism will study the way music and art influences texts from other cultures as well as special uses of language or emphasis on oral traditions for those cultures with an oral tradition background.  It considers the way the history and folktales of specific cultures as well as issues and conflicts of that culture are utilized in the literature to convey a sense of the culture and what makes it unique.

What questions should I consider when using contextual approaches?

· In what ways do you see the author’s life or aspects of his/her life reflected in the text? 

· Are there any significant moments in the author’s life which might help you to understand the author’s written work?  How does a knowledge of the author’s life increase your understanding of the situation depicted in the text?

· What are some of the author’s beliefs (whether in favor of something or opposed to it) and how are they reflected in the literature? 

· Identify the historical setting of the text.  How does it affect what happens in the text?

· What other information about the time period is necessary to understand the attitudes and beliefs depicted in the story?   Are there any ways in which the work seems to contradict attitudes or beliefs of the time?  If so, what does that suggest about the author’s view of the situation (historically as well as textually)?

· Consider other texts of the same time period (magazines, medical journals, popular fiction, advertisements, etc–anything goes here) that might be related to the text or expand your understanding of the text.  How does your knowledge of the cultural context affect your understanding of the story?

· What aspects of the text seem to be a function of the culture from which the author comes or which is depicted in the text?   How does a knowledge of cultural beliefs, history, and traditions inform your reading of the text?

Kinds of Thinking

KINDS OF THINKING 

It is ironic that humans have been assessing thinking for thousands of years but have spent very little time coming to terms with the criteria they habitually use in deciding which thinking to accept and which to reject, which to praise and which to criticize.  In fact, despite what humans profess, most respond to new or controversial or conflicting ideas as if they do not need to improve on their thinking.  That is, most of us respond to these kinds of ideas with a “mine is better” kind of mindset. Of course, once we recognize that the human mind by nature is deeply prone to self-deception and to using thinking in a highly self-serving way—then, we should not be surprised that the implicit standards that humans instinctively use to assess thinking are not only intellectually flawed but actually intellectually absurd.  We have in mind the following criteria:

· “It’s true because I believe it” or innate egocentricism: I find myself continually assuming that what I believe is true even though I have never questioned the basis for many of my beliefs

· “It’s true because we believe it” or innate sociocentrism (also known as ethnocentrism): I find myself continually assuming that the dominant beliefs in the groups to which I belong are true even though I have never questioned the basis for many of these beliefs

· “It’s true because I want to believe it” or innate wish fulfillment: I find myself believing in, for example, accounts of behavior that put me (or the groups to which I belong) in a positive rather than a negative light even though I have not seriously considered the evidence for the more negative account. I believe what “feels good,” what supports my other beliefs, what does not require me to change my thinking in any significant way, what does not require me to admit I have been wrong.

· “It’s true because it is in my vested interest to believe it” or innate selfishness: I find myself gravitating to beliefs which if true would justify my getting more power, money, or personal advantage and not noticing the evidence or reasoning against those beliefs.

These kinds of thinking are especially problematic when they block one’s ability to think critically or to entertain perspectives, ideas, or beliefs that differ from one’s own or from what puts a person in a better light or more powerful position.  Any of these kinds of thinking can distort our ideas or responses to others’ ideas and, ultimately, make us less effective as critical thinkers. 

MLA Citation: 

In Your Works Cited Page: 

“Kinds of Thinking.” English 1B, Spring 2021, Riverside City College, 2021. 

First Mentioned in Your Essay:

According to the article “Kinds of Thinking,” it discusses how….

After Mentioned Already in the Essay:

The article “Kinds of Thinking” asserts that “……..

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