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Student Guide: How to Use This Textbook

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    How to Use This Textbook

    Dear student,

    Congratulations on enrolling in a literature class! By opening this textbook, you are now no longer just a student, but a scholar of literature. This means that you have taken the first steps on a path trodden by innumerable students, writers, readers, and critics. The writers of this textbook, like your teacher, were also once in your shoes. As former students, we know there are many feelings that arise when taking an introduction to literature course. For bookworms, it is an exciting opportunity to earn credits doing what they already love. For others, who perhaps have had bad experiences with reading or writing courses in the past, it can feel intimidating or even traumatic. Some students love reading but do not feel confident writing. Others prefer writing to reading. Some students feel much more comfortable with math and science than "touchy-feely" subjects like literature. And most students who take literature classes in community college have no plans of becoming English majors and their main motivation for taking the class is because it is required.

    All of these perspectives and experiences are valid and actually contribute to rather than detract from the learning environment. Each of these types of students has an important body of knowledge to bring to the study of literature. For example, one former student was a self-described "math geek" who stated he "hated" literature. Yet when we read excerpts from ]Open Interval[ by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (2009), this student was able to share his knowledge of the mathematical concept of Open Intervals in order to deepen our understanding of the poems inspired by astronomy and mathematics. Indeed, the entire class was better able to understand and enjoy the poems because this literature-hating, math-loving student shared his perspective. By the end of the class, he still "hated" literature, but admitted he had grown an appreciation for it. Indeed, his essays were some of the best in the class despite -- or perhaps because of -- his stated aversion to literature!

    The great news is that anyone can acquire the skills necessary to study literature. And, who knows, maybe those who dislike literature will discover a story they love along the way. As editors of this textbook, we wish to encourage you to increasingly recognize not only what you can learn in the literature classroom, but, also, the knowledge and value you bring to the discussion.

    Keeping in consideration the many different experiences, learning styles, knowledge, skills, and interests students bring, the authors of this textbook have done their best to ensure this textbook is:

    • Easy to use
    • Easy to understand
    • Accessible for students of all backgrounds and abilities
    • Convenient
    • Free
    • Interesting
    • Thought-provoking

    Textbook Sections

    1. Genre Sections: each of these sections provide readings and resources in each major literary genre, including
    2. Writing About Literature is a writing guide specifically tailored to the study of literature. It includes skill-based resources as well as Student Sample Essays.
    3. Citations and Formatting For Literature (MLA) is meant to help students ethically cite sources.

    Cool Features

    • Hypothesis. When using this textbook on the Libretexts website on your phone or computer, you can annotate directly onto the textbook by using the little sticky note on the upper righthand corner of your screen. This takes you to a free app called Hypothesis that records your notes!
    • Beeline. This feature helps those with adaptive needs like Dyslexia, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia. You can enable this feature by clicking the "Readability" tab at the top of this page and selecting a preferred reader from the dropdown menu.
    • PDF. You can turn any part of this textbook into a PDF that you can read on the go, even if you do not have internet. Click the little "PDF" button next to the "Readability" tab to download the chosen page as a PDF. Please note that some of the features available on the Libretexts website are not functional in PDF form, such as videos and the learning tools, Hypothesis and Beeline, described above.
    • Table of Contents. Tired of scrolling? Pages that are longer have a table of contents to help you quickly click through the textbook to different sections and subsections. This also helps in a classroom setting, so that students and professors can be on the same page. On a computer, the table of contents will appear in the upper right hand corner of the page. On a cell phone, this will appear at the top of each page. Just click on the section you would like to jump to!

    If you notice any errors, or you have any suggestions for improving the textbook, please send your thoughts and suggestions to Just like you seek to learn and grow as a writer and scholar, so do we wish to continuously improve this textbook. It is a work in progress! Thank you for reading, and we hope you come away from this resource with a deepened understanding and appreciation for literature.


    Heather Ringo, Athena Kashyap, and the entire Writing and Critical Thinking Through Literature team

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