Learning with Literature

Throughout the spring semester, my ability to read and analyze works along with writing comprehensive papers has increased in a great way. In high school, my teachers provided weak material to read that did not really boost my ability to read comprehensively. Now that I’m in college, English 131.01 allowed me to read texts that are more advanced than those I have previously read, and analyze them on a collegiate level. While english is not my favorite subject, I still feel that I have learned a great amount, and the class has helped me set a solid foundation for the rest of my college career. This course has helped me personally with critical thinking, the development of an essay, and analyzing long written works.

The beginning of the course set the bar for how the rest was going to be. On the first day, Professor Lucas walked into the room, sat down next to one of us students, and simply said, “who am I?” This set the tone for the class, critical thinking. Professor Lucas did a fantastic job by making us think deeply about the works we read. Every time we reviewed a text she asked us what certain things meant, or at least what we thought it meant. Sometimes we all just stopped and sat in silence for a minute to think, other times some of us had responses immediately. Regardless of this, it shows how much we had to think each day. Every day we had to be ready for everything Professor Lucas brought to us. If we weren’t prepared each class, it was clear and obvious.

One of the most important elements of an essay is the thesis statement. I had learned this early in my life, but had not realized how important it really was until this class. The thesis statement presents a road map for the rest of the essay, showing what you are going to discuss. We use the thesis to keep the reader’s attention to dive into the body paragraphs. While the body is the thickness and meat of the essay, the thesis is basically the seasoning or special sauce that keeps the reader intrigued. Without it, people reading would be confused and wondering what in the world you are talking about. This just shows the importance of the thesis statement.

The two main works that we read for the class were Swing Time by Zadie Smith, and Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. Both of these works were difficult for me to read personally, I enjoyed Serafina and the Black Cloak more than the other. The quote that stood out to me the most was “never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, both dark and bright, and they will ensnare your soul.” (Beatty 60, 61). This quote set the stage for the whole book, because this was one of the most key points later in the book. Another major quote that was engraved on a statue was, “our character isn’t defined by the battles we win or lose, but by the battles we dare to fight” (Beatty 139). This quote makes a great lesson for everyone to learn, which is that our bravery adds more to our character rather than whether we win or lose. Winning and losing is trivial and does not matter, it’s what is in the heart that matters.

Overall, this english class has helped me set a base for my next few years in college and beyond. While english is my least favorite subject, I have still enjoyed being able to learn new ways to analyze works and compose pieces of writing. Now I am comfortable reading more advanced books than I previously have read, and go into the readings with an ability to analyze and comprehend the text better. This english class has paved the way for me to continue on the road to success throughout my college career.


Work Cited

Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. 2015. Disney Hyperion, 2016


Annotated Bibliography

Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. 2015. Disney Hyperion, 2016

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty is a story about a young girl who finds out the reason behind children disappearing in the Biltmore mansion. A strange man wearing a black cloak walks the corridors of the Biltmore in the night, taking children. Serafina teams up with Braeden Vanderbilt, nephew of the Biltmore’s owner to find out who this mysterious man wearing a black cloak is.


Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. 2016. Penguin, 2017.

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith, is a book told from the point of view of an unnamed narrator. Telling the stories of a young girl and adult woman’s life. The novel transitions back and forth from her childhood and her adulthood seven different times. From living in total adolescence to eventually moving out to be on her own in the workforce, the narrator undergoes many struggles with friendships and work. Overall, the novel highlights the friendship between the narrator and Tracey, a dancer who eventually falls into poverty.


Lewis, Michael. “Chapter One.” The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Norton, 2006, pp. 15–16.

In Chapter One of The Blind Side, Michael Lewis describes the ending of Joe Theismann’s career. As he describes it, he tells every single detail between each second of the play before Theismann takes the hit that ends his pro football career. At the end of the excerpt, Lewis states that Theismann is “at the mercy of what he can’t see,” hence the name of the novel, The Blind Side.


Twenge, Jean. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”. The Atlantic, September. 2017.

In Jean Twenge’s article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” she discusses the effects of smartphones on today’s society. She states that people today over-use their devices and end up becoming more isolated, depressive, and suffer sleep deprivation. Overall, Twenge disapproves of the way today’s society is using technology too much, and wants to share her opinions to start a change.


Lane, Anthony. “Reality Hunger,” Review of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg and Lean on Pete, directed by Andrew Haigh. The New Yorker, 9 Apr. 2018, pp. 80-81.

The article “Reality Hunger,” by Anthony Lane, is a review of the film Ready Player One. In addition to the review of Steven Spielberg’s film, Lane connects it to Andrew Haigh’s story of a boy and a horse. As Lane draws multiple comparisons between the two, he eventually concludes his review with the true message of Spielberg’s film.


Collins, Billy. Snow Day. The Poetry Foundation, 2016.

Snow Day, by Billy Collins, is a poem that describes the snowy scenery that he sees outside of his window, portraying all the activities that a day full of snow includes. While Collins loves being outside in the snow, he decides to stay inside with his warm tea while listening to the radio. Overall, the poem gives the reader a great description to paint a picture of what he sees during this day of snow.


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