Literary interpretation is fundamentally interested in the question of what a text means. What is this text about? What ideas does this text communicate?
To answer the fundamental questions, we pursue a diagnostic analysis of the text, assessing the structure of a work and its component parts. Then we step back and analyze the text from a conceptual standpoint.
If you are a student looking for a solid and straightforward explanation of what you are being asked to do in English class, learn more here: “What is literary analysis, exactly?”
If you’re an instructor looking for helpful resources to make sure your students are informed about the practices and conventions of literary analysis, take a look at some of the open resources at Philo Culturo: