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ENGL 201 (dara) SP18: Literary Schools of Criticism/Group Research Presentations

Group Presentation Assignment


Rather than simply giving you PowerPoint presentations about the various literary schools of criticism/theory/lenses, you will get to conduct research, participate in a group project, and create a presentation introducing one school of criticism. After your small group chooses your literary school of criticism (literary/critical theory/critical lens) from the list in the attached document, please complete the following:

The Work for the Presentation:

  1. Research the school of criticism. Find out about its tenets, practice, history and founding mothers and fathers.


  1. Use Othello, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Exonerated, OR No Child and re-read it carefully with this theoretical framework in mind. This is where note taking will be incredibly useful.


  1. Using that careful reading, construct an analysis of that text through the lens of your chosen school of criticism. In other words, if your group chooses Marxist literary theory, create an analysis of the play with a Marxist slant. Please know, these Oral Presentations are meant as an introduction to the theories, but they should be well researched and college-level presentations. Don’t “wing it.”


  1. You must include a correctly formatted Works Cited at the end of your presentation, and on it must include (but in correct order):
    1. The play you analyzed
    2. At least three scholarly sources

The Presentation:

  1. Create an 8-10 minute presentation through which you share the information about the tenets/practices, and the analysis through the lens. You may present this information in any way you wish as long as each group member speaks, and as long as you’re practiced and professional. Feel free to use the board, overhead projector, internet, PowerPoint, or any other means to make this happen. Please feel compelled to use visual aids; they will add depth and interest to your presentation. 


  1. Include enough information so that your classmates understand 1) what the school of criticism aims to accomplish 2) your group’s interpretation of the chosen play.


  1. Provide any useful handouts for me and for the class. Don't have a reason for a handout?  Don't make one!


  1. Please note!  You must practice.  If your group is outside the time limit, I will have to interrupt you and and stop you.  This will negatively affect the overall group grade.

Librarian Tips

  1. Find scholarly sources (articles, books from scholarly publishers) on your selected school of criticism/literary theory and the themes of your selected play. Only some of the plays in your text will have scholarly analysis about the specific play published in journals... you need to think beyond the play title when deciding what keywords to search in databases


  1. Find critical analysis and reviews of the play using the databases below.


  1. Locate biographical information about the playwright to better understand their perspective. For contemporary works, consider adding the keyword interview to your search for the playwright, to learn more about their intentions with writing the selected play and its productions.

Suggested Library Resources

Locating Background Information:

  1. Databases
    1. The following two databases will have brief overview articles on schools of literary criticism and the various theories from literature encyclopedias (highly credible sources for your research!). Reference sources, like GVRL, are also good resources for learning the context of a key theme, event, or time period in history associated with your selected play.
      1. Oxford Reference Online
      2. GVRL (Gale Virtual Reference Library) Literature collection


  1. Web Site
    1. Purdue Owl's Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism
      1. good overview for some of the major literary theories


  1. Reference Books
    1. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory : Approaches, Scholars, Terms
    2. The Literary Theory Handbook


  1. Additional Books
    1. Click on the Catalog
    2. Use the Library of Congress search term: criticism
    3. Remember to select "Alphabetical Browse" and click "Subject."
    4. Items that have the designation "electronic resource" are eBooks that can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection.
    5. Remember to record the call number...usually starts with PN for this subject.


Suggested Article and Reference Databases:

  1. **Gale Literary Sources** ... cross-searches the two databases below plus more cool literature studies resources from our online collection!


  1. Literature Resource Center: a one-stop shop for information about all forms of literature and authors.


  1. Literature Criticism Online: be sure to use the Advanced Search.  Scroll down to More Options and under Product/Series choose "Drama Criticism Online."


  1. Magill on Literature Plus: work overviews, author information, and much more. Try the advanced search for focusing your search.


  1. EBSCOhost: our largest journal database; check the box next to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) to limit your search results to just scholarly (don't check that box if you want to find reviews and interviews!). You can find transcripts of radio and TV interviews in EBSCOhost.


  1. JSTOR: all scholarly sources, books and journal articles (literature, feminism, historicism, etc.)


For more resources, check out our online research guide for "Literary Criticism" and our "Databases by Subject" list to help you get started.

Access & Ask Us!

Accessing Databases 

  1. Use your SURF ID & password to access databases & eBooks from off-campus

  2. Always use Library web page links to access research databases


  1. If you need help with your research, please ask us! IM/Chat, phone, or in-person are best!

Shortcut to eBooks!

Search over 160,000+ eBooks all at once, at our eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). These are real books! Online and available to you, 24/7!!

*Tip: Just as with locating print books about schools of criticism and your selected play, search for eBooks using the play's title or the play's author name, or keywords for the theory.

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