The phrase, "Oh, that's academic!" tends to mean "Forget about it!  That's boring and unimportant!"  Yet that isn't what teachers mean when they ask for "academic writing."  Instead, professors tend to define academic writing as research-based, objective and formal in style and tone, thesis-driven, and deductively organized (that is, where your introduction presents your argument or interpretation and forecasts the organization for the paper).

Part Two: Literary Criticism: An Introduction
Part Three: Literary Criticism: An Introduction

What is Literature and Why Does it Matter?

Literature is what makes the world whirl. Whether a student is reading about Miranda’s encounter with a “Brave New World” in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, a “falling star” in John Milton’s poem “Song,” or “a Spring Saturday” in Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, what the student reads was written by an author who aimed to give a reader his or her perspective—or spin—on the world in the form of literature. By reading literature with a critical eye, one can begin to go beyond simply expressing a like or dislike of a particular text, delving deeper into the particular view of the world that an author wanted to convey. Literary criticism enables students and critics to develop an informed opinion about the meaning of a literary work.

Part One: Literary Criticism: An Introduction
Part Three: Literary Criticism: An Introduction

Biographical Criticism

In contrast to analyzing the structure, codes, or patterns in a literary text, biographical criticism emphasizes the relationship between the author and his or her literary work. 

Part One: Literary Criticism: An Introduction
Part Two: Literary Criticism: An Introduction    

Feminist (Gender Studies) Criticism

Feminist criticism, or gender studies, focuses on the role of women (or gender) in a literary text. According to Bressler, “central to the diverse aims and methods of feminist criticism is its focus on patriarchy, the rule of society and culture by men” (168).