Essential Questions (EQs) are those questions that probe the heart of what we are trying to learn or study - they are the questions that drive our curiosities and focus our inquiries. Of course, it would be helpful to know what those questions are, so here is a list for our various literary analyses.  Remember, I am learning more and more about these just as you are, so questions might change as I gain more insight into each type.
Rhetorical: the analysis of technique and author intent

EQ 1: What did the author want me to get out of this piece?
EQ 2: What techniques did the author use to get his/her point across?
EQ 3: How were those techniques used to develop theme? character? etc...
EQ 4: How were those techniques used to manipulate the reader?

Cultural: the analysis of a piece of literature in terms of its cultural context

EQ 1: Why do you either identify or resist the cultural values of the piece?
EQ 2: Are you an insider or an outsider to the culture in this book?
EQ 3: How does the work reflect a particular culture or cultural values?
EQ 4: How does the culture reflected in the writing affect your understanding of it? How does your own culture affect your understanding of it?

Deconstruction: the revelation of a secondary meaning

EQ 1: Is there any evidence in the text indicating a possible secondary meaning?
EQ 2: Do you know enough about the primary meaning to attempt to find a secondary?
EQ 3: Assuming you have your initial clue, can you then adequately extend your secondary meanings throughout the work?
EQ 4: Do you really understand primary and a secondary meanings?

Feminist: the analysis of a work's perception by and portrayal of females

EQ 1: How would a female (probably you) respond to a story, especially as that response would be significantly different that that of a male.
EQ 2: How are female (and male) roles played out in the work? What stereotypes - overt or subtle - are portrayed?  What messages about gender roles are being sent?
EQ 3: How would the story change if gender roles were shifted?
EQ 4: How would the piece differ if the author were of the other gender?

Freudian: the analysis of a piece of literature as an insight into the author's mind (remember, though, we are allowing our own version of character analysis too)

EQ 1: Do you understand that to look at a text from a Freudian point of view is to see it as symbolic rather than literal?
EQ 2: Do you understand that suppressed wants, needs, and even memories force their way through symbolically in dreams and - of course - writing?
EQ 3: What text - exact words, phrases, or passages - represents a symbolic expression of the author's sublimated wants and needs?
EQ 4: What conclusions can you draw about the author and his/her work based on your Freudian analysis of the text?


Historicism: the placement of literature in its relative time and place

EQ 1: How did the time period in which the work was written affect how and why it was written?
EQ 2: How would the work be perceived in its own time period?
EQ 3: How does placing the piece in the context of our time period affect its meaning and how it is perceived?

Lacanian: insight into ourselves based on our response to literature's language

EQ 1: Do you understand that my reactions to the text are symbolic rather than literal? Do I also understand that literal is still a good place to start?
EQ 2: Since I do realize that the text I respond to is symbolic of my reactions to aspects in my personality, I also realize that Lacan gave us categories for those symbols: the mother and the father. Which of these types of symbols am you responding to? Your need for security or safety (the mother)? Or your need for acceptance by others (the father)?
EQ 3: And for all of this, do you understand the mirror principle - the idea that we form images of ourselves based on how we think we are perceived by others?
EQ 4: What text - exact words, phrases, or passages - causes in you a strong emotional response?  What exactly about that text is affecting your mirror image?

Reader Response: our emotional and intellectual response to literature

EQ 1: How do you feel about what you read?
EQ 2: What does it make you think of?
EQ 3: How do evaluate the text as a reader?