Writing and literary analysis are fields with a language all their own: metaphor, metonymy, alliteration, analogy, onomatopoeia, and so on. It can be dizzying! Well, we're here to help. In the Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms, SWLF professors explain common literary forms and devices as well as tips and tools for writing and literary analysis. The series is designed with high school and college English students in mind and aims to be a tool that helps them meaningfully engage with texts and succeed in their literary studies.

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"What is a Metaphor?" A Guide for English Students and Teachers

Professor Tim Jensen answers the question "What is a Metaphor?" using an examples from everyday life, H.P. Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu, and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. The short video is designed to help high school and college English students to not only identify metaphors but also to analyze their structure and purpose.

"What is Hyperbole?" A Guide for English Students and Teachers

Professor Elena Passarello answers the question "What is Hyperbole?" using examples from everyday life and the famous balcony scene from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The short video is designed to help high school and college English students to properly identify hyperbolic language and to analyze its structure and purpose.

"What is Metonymy?" A Guide for English Students and Teachers

Professor Peter Betjemann answers the question "What is Metonymy?" using examples from everyday life and Emily Dickinson's poem "I taste a liquor never brewed." The short video is designed to help high school and college English students to properly identify metonymic language and to analyze its structure and purpose.

"What is Synecdoche?" A Guide for English Students and Teachers

Professor Peter Betjemann answers the question "What is Synecdoche?" using examples from everyday life and Allen Ginsberg's poem "A Supermarket in California." The short video is designed to help high school and college English students to properly identify synecdoches and to analyze their structure and purpose.

"What is a Sonnet?" A Guide for English Essays

Professor Rebecca Olson answers the question "What is a Sonnet?" by using an example from William Shakespeare's "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" The short video is designed to help English students not only identify sonnets but also analyze their structure and common themes.

"What is Imagery?" A Guide for English Essays

What is Imagery? Professor Raymond Malewitz answers this question using an example from Kate Chopin's short story "The Story of an Hour." The video is designed to help English students not only identify imagery but also analyze its functions in stories and poems. 

"What is Enjambment?" A Guide for English Students and Teachers

[Available August 9th] Professor Jen Richter answers the question "What is Enjambment?" using examples from the poets Mary Oliver and Lucille Clifton.  The short video is designed to help high school and college English students to properly identify enjambed and end-stopped lines of poetry and to analyze the different purposes that each type of lineation serves.

"What is Satire?" A Guide for English Students and Teachers

[Available August 16th] Professor Evan Gottlieb answers the question "What is Satire?" using examples from a variety of historical and contemporary sources. The short video is designed to help high school and college English students to properly identify three different kinds of satire (Horatian, Juvenalian, and Menippean) and to analyze their structures and purposes.

[Available August 23rd] Poet-in-Residence David Biespiel answers the question "What is Juxtaposition?" using examples from contemporary poetry and visual art. The short video is designed to help English students to not only identify juxtaposition but also to analyze how it contributes to the development of poetic themes.

More videos on subjects such as foreshadowing, personification, allegory, irony, dramatic monologue, and unreliable narrator will be rolling out starting in September, so please subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the series.

If you are an English teacher, we'd love to get your suggestions for other subjects that might be suitable for our series.  Please post a comment on one of our videos or the YouTube main page with your recommendations!