From: "Literary Criticism." The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Abington: Helicon, 2014. Credo Reference. Web. 25 July 2015.
Students are often asked to adopt one of three approaches for a text analysis: a character and relationship study, a description of the principal themes and ideas in a work, or a review. Each of these approaches requires a detailed knowledge of the text and careful
selection of relevant examples to support arguments. In general, it is useful to pay particular attention to the following aspects of a text: What sort of atmosphere is the author trying to create? What are the central themes of the work? What is the style of writing
What literary techniques does the author use to achieve the intended effect? (especially relevant to poetry). Pre-twentieth-century texts may also require some historical research – for example to find out the expectations and sense of humour of the audience in
From: Sumara, Dennis J. Why Reading Literature in School Still Matters: Imagination, Interpretation and Insight. Mahwah, N.J.: Routledge, 2002. ebook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 25 July 2015.
Most students in high school are taught "close reading" practices. "This meant identifying literary qualities of texts and representing their intended meanings. Studying literature meant paying attention to the details that distinguished literature from "not literature", and, at the same time, noticing the distinctions and similarities between characters and situations within a literary work, and across literary works. There was particular attention given to genre, and with the ways in which different genres evolved over historical periods."
Michael O'Sullivan, Reference Librarian