Working With Psychoanalytic Criticism

        Write a short, single-spaced essay in which you concisely explain the basic premises of psychoanalytic criticism and apply one or more psychoanalytic interpretive strategies to explaining how Hemingway's "A Very Short Story" (65-66) is constructed or what it means, using the terms of art found in Tyson.  Email it to me either as an attached MS-Word file (recommended for bad spellers!) or in the body of the email, itself. 

        To successfully complete the assignment, make sure your essay's two parts answer, in some fashion, the following questions:

Part One:  Summarize Tyson's discussion of psychoanalytic theory and its methods of interpretation of literature.  Do not merely list the terms of art used by the theory.  Note the theoreticians who invented them.  Illustrate or define them with a phrase so that I can discern how well you understand them.  Use literary examples when you can--they will improve your memory of the theory and method.  How does the psychoanalytic critic treat the evidence in the work?  What are the goals motivating the psychoanalytic critic's interpretation of the text?   What constitutes a successful interpretation?

Part Two: What evidence in the short story makes it appropriate for psychoanalytic interpretation?  What psychoanalytic principles seem most effectively to explain that evidence?  What non-obvious insight do those principles help us to see in the text?  Because Psychoanalytic methods require you to know for certain what point of view a narrative comes from, please read this tip page for help determining the identity of "A Very Short Story"'s  implied narrator.

        You do not have to develop a completely structured paper in order to finish this assignment.  Don't bother with a formal introduction or conclusion, and if it helps, you can use section headers (i.e., "Part One" and "Part Two") to eliminate the need to write paragraph transition.  As a matter of good critical practice, you should provide your paper with a proper title based on your application of psychoanalytic theory, and a Works Cited section.  However, once you have explained how psychoanalytic criticism works and have showed how it might be applied in the case of this text, you are done.  To do a good job on this paper, you need not explore further the consequences of that application or develop all the available evidence; only the most relevant details need be mentioned.  However, if you pursue further the implications of your insight, that will be noticed and appreciated.

Click here for the criteria I will use when evaluating the paper.

Click here to refresh your thinking about "free indirect speech" and assigning evidence from third-person narrators to individual characters in Hemingway.