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Setting: The Background of Place, Objects, and Culture in Stories ENG 404: AP English Literature and Composition Unit I: Genre Study – Fiction.

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Presentation on theme: "Setting: The Background of Place, Objects, and Culture in Stories ENG 404: AP English Literature and Composition Unit I: Genre Study – Fiction."— Presentation transcript:

1 Setting: The Background of Place, Objects, and Culture in Stories ENG 404: AP English Literature and Composition Unit I: Genre Study – Fiction

2 Setting Basic Types of Setting *** Literary Uses of Setting

3 What Is Setting? Setting = descriptions of places, objects, and backgrounds Includes characters’ environments ◦Natural ◦Manufactured ◦Political ◦Cultural ◦Temporal

4 Basic Types of Settings Public and private places, together with various possessions, are important in fiction, as in life. ◦Objects and places of human manufacture, construction, and maintenance ◦Contributes to characterization and verisimilitude ◦Objects may enter directly into fictional action (plot) and character

5 Basic Types of Settings Outdoor places are scenes of many fictional actions. ◦Take note of  Natural surroundings  Living creatures  Times, seasons, and conditions ◦May influence and interact with character, motivation, and conduct

6 Basic Types of Settings Cultural and historical circumstances often figure largely in fiction. ◦Historical and cultural conditions and assumptions ◦Circumstances influence and underscore events, motivations, relationships, etc.

7 Literary Uses of Setting Setting is usually essential and vital in the story. ◦Focus on function of important details ◦Note the author’s level of detail Setting augments a work’s realism and credibility. ◦Establishes realism / verisimilitude ◦Futuristic, symbolic, and fantastic stories may include places and objects from everyday experience.

8 Literary Uses of Setting Setting may accentuate qualities of character. ◦Underscores influence of place, circumstances, and time on human growth and change ◦Can reveal strengths and weaknesses by the ways characters adjust and respond to setting Setting is a means by which authors structure and shape their works. ◦Used as means of organizing stories ◦Framing or enclosing setting = author opens with a particular description and returns to the same setting at the end

9 Literary Uses of Setting Various settings may be symbolic. ◦Scenes / materials that are highlighted or emphasized may be taken as symbols ◦Relate prominent elements of setting to ideas, characters, situations, etc. Setting is used in the creation of atmosphere and mood. ◦Selection of detail contributes to feeling ◦Develop mood through  Color and light  Imagery / sensory response  Familiar locales

10 Literary Uses of Setting Setting may underscore a work’s irony. ◦Establishes expectations that are the opposite of what occurs ◦Plays up contrast between actions / events and the backdrop against which they occur ◦Selection of details may guide reader toward one interpretation in order to set up ironic reveal later on ◦Objects and other elements may be used to foreshadow later events

11 Writing about Setting The background of place, objects, and culture in literature  Notes on setting  General strategies  Questions to consider  Organizing your essay

12 Notes on Setting There are three basic types of setting ◦Nature and the outdoors ◦Public and private places of human construction ◦Cultural conditions and assumptions Uses of setting ◦Establish realism ◦Contribute to characterization ◦Act as organizing element ◦Act as literary symbol(s) ◦Establish mood or atmosphere ◦Underscore irony

13 General Strategies Remember, setting is a vital piece of the puzzle when analyzing literature. In preparing to write about setting, determine the number and importance of locations, artifacts, and customs.

14 Questions to Consider How fully are objects described? How vital are they to the action? How important are they in the development of the plot or idea? How are they connected to the mental states of the characters? What connections, if any, are apparent between locations and characters? Do the locations bring characters together, separate them, facilitate their privacy, make intimacy and conversation difficult? How well done are the visual descriptions? Does the author provide such vivid and carefully arranged details about surroundings that you might even be able to draw a map or plan? Or is the scenery vague and difficult to imagine?

15 Questions to Consider How important to the plot and characters are shapes, colors, times of day, clouds, storms, light and sun, seasons of the year, and conditions of vegetation? Are the characters poor, moderately well-off, or rich? How does their economic lot determine what happens to them? How does their economic condition affect their actions and attitudes? What cultural, religious, and political conditions are displayed and acted upon in the story? How do the characters accept and adjust to these conditions? How do the conditions affect the characters’ judgments and actions?

16 Questions to Consider What is the state of houses, furniture, and objects? What connections can you find between this condition and the outlook and behavior of the characters? How important are sounds or silences? To what degree is music or other sound important in the development of character and action? Do characters respect or mistreat the environment? If there is an environmental connection, how central is it to the story? What conclusions do you think the author expects you to draw as a result of the neighborhood, culture, and larger world of the story?

17 Organizing Your Essay on Setting Introduction ◦Give a brief description of the setting or scenes ◦Specify the amount and importance of detail Body ◦Five basic approaches  Setting and action: Explore the importance of setting in the work  Setting and organization: Discuss how setting connected to the various parts of the work  Setting and character: Analyze the degree to which setting influences and interacts with character  Setting and atmosphere: Analyze the extent to which setting contributes to the atmosphere

18 Organizing Your Essay on Setting Body (continued) ◦Five approaches (continued)  Setting and other aspects: Consider other literary uses of setting ◦Choose the approach that best fits the work ◦Consider setting as illustration and evidence Conclusion ◦Summarize major points ◦Discuss related aspects not considered ◦Does central idea about setting apply to other major aspects of the story?


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