Literary Techniques


  • Intertexuality
    • Epigraphs: inserting someone else’s art into your own
    • Allusion: reference to other art (literature, music, physical art, etc.)
  • Metafiction: the author as a character in the story
  • Pastiche: mish-mashing genres; so Running in the Family is memoir/personal narrative but it’s also family history and there’s poetry mixed in as well.
  • Non-linear narrative: the narrative jumps around; how does the disconnected nature of the story affect the reader’s experience?
  • Section divisions: the section divisions are deliberately selected and carefully named. What is the relationship between the names of the sections and their content?
  • Magical realism: fantastical elements (dreams, etc.) incorporated into descriptions of real events. What is the effect of adding those magical elements?
  • Direct dialogue: there is very little in the work that is actual dialogue. What does he choose to communicate through direct dialogue and why is that significant?
  • Humour (dislocated): a lot of the subject matter is serious, bordering on traumatic. However, the author describes a lot of this with humour. Why does he do this and what is the effect?


Motifs are recurring ideas/effects (image, sound, action, or other figure) that contribute to a certain theme or larger idea. 

Motifs are not merely symbols (physical objects) although the two are related.

Identifying motifs:

  • Are there certain ideas or images that keep coming up in the story?
    • Why has the author included these ideas repeatedly? What are they contributing to the story?
  • Consider a particular theme: are there certain ideas or images that are associated with that theme?
    • How are these ideas associated with particular themes? Why these ideas? How do they contribute to the theme?

Always answer the “why” questions




The theme is the underlying overall message of the story about a particular topic or issue. 

  • The theme is NOT literally what happens in the story; that is the subject/plot.

Determining Theme:

  • How does the theme affect the main character(s)?
    • WHAT happens to the characters?
    • HOW are the characters described?
    • HOW do others interact with them?
    • HOW are their actions portrayed?
    • WHY does this happen?
  • Provide the backup via examples from the text.
    • “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Don’t assume anything. Be prepared to defend everything you say with facts.

Always answer the “why” questions.

  • WHY does the character do this? 
  • WHY did the author choose to use this technique? 
  • WHY is this important? 


EN11: Homework for Friday 7 May

Select two (2) of the following three (3) movies and watch the opening scene. I would recommend watching on Netflix if you can but the Youtube links will work if you don’t have access to Netflix.

List the similarities that you see between the opening scenes that you chose.

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (

Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade (part 1 & part 2)

Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom (part 1 & part 2)


EN11: Homework for Thurs 11 April

Apologies that we ran out of class time today. I wanted to clarify the homework so there is no confusion:

For homework:

  1. Please do a quick review of Ulysses – MrH analysis. We talked about most of this but we were pressed for time at the end. Please use this as an example for the level of detail that I am looking for when you analyze a poem on your own.
  2. Please begin analyzing your chosen song based on the criteria/categories that we discussed today. You can find those categories listed here. For Thursday, you should be able to talk about at least three (3) aspects of your poem from each category (minimum 9 aspects total).
    • *Please remember that your chosen song can be any genre/age but it must be in English. So you are welcome to choose popular songs but if you cannot come up with the  level of analysis that I am asking you for, then you may need to pick a different song. For example, I love Carly Rae Jepsen. She has the voice of an angel and she is quite a talented songwriter. But this song does not have enough poetic elements to qualify for analysis. 

EN11: 2 Nov – Homework (due 6 Nov)

Complete character comparison sheet for “Holding Things Together” and “The Painted Door”

  • 1 similar character trait + 2-3 differences OR 1 different character trait + 2-3 similar.
  • Minimum 2 examples for each character trait from each story. (i.e. 2 characters X 3 traits X 2 examples = 12 examples total)

All Classes: Request Review of Your Essay/Project Grade

If you believe that your essay or project was graded incorrectly, I am happy to be proven wrong. However, because I have already done the work of marking these assignments, you must prove your case. In order to request a review of your essay or project grade you must do the following:

  1. Review the assignment sheet and the rubric carefully.
  2. Determine what aspect of the assignment you believe was improperly graded. E.g. “My thesis was marked as a 2 out of 4 for being ‘somewhat clear’ but I think it deserves a 3 out of 4 because it was ‘clear, although not explicitly stated.'” You MUST reference the language from the rubric or the assignment sheet.
  3. Find a specific example(s) that support your argument. Completing Step 2 is NOT sufficient. If you are contesting your thesis, you must highlight your thesis and explain why it is clear throughout the essay. If you are contesting the organization of your essay, you must highlight your introductory and closing sentences from each paragraph, as well as your introduction and conclusion, and explain how each relates back to your thesis.
  4. Send me an email with this information.

This does not guarantee that I will change your grade. However, I will review it and if you make a convincing argument, I will happily adjust your grade to reflect that.

EN9M: Speak Vocab

First and Second Marking Periods

Abstinence (noun): To refrain from taking part in certain pleasures. Abstinence is often a religious practice and is most commonly referring to refraining from sexual intercourse, usually until marriage.

Abysmal (adjective): Extremely or hopelessly bad.

Blathers (verb): To talk endlessly; usually about an unimportant subject.

Conjugate (verb): To inflect a verb or change it’s form to comply with grammar rules.

Forestry (noun): The branch of science pertaining to forests.

Dryad (noun): A female tree spirit; from Greek myth.

Errant (adjective): Behaving improperly.

Gelatinous (adjective): Resembling jelly; particularly in terms of texture.

Harried (adjective): To be harassed and repeatedly annoyed; often to the point of being flustered.

Hypothalamus (noun): The part of the brain that controls the production and release of hormones.

Inconspicuous (adjective): Not noticeable. Something that does not draw attention to itself.

Indoctrination (noun): To teach an ideology. Often used in a religious context.

Integral (adjective): Crucial; necessary to the existence of a thing.

Laryngitis (noun): An inflammation of the vocal cords that makes speaking difficult to impossible; caused by a virus.

Overbearing (adjective): To be arrogant in a rude and intrusive manner.

Pistils (noun): The female reproductive parts of the flower.

Reconstituted (adjective): To be remade. References food that was fresh, has been preserved, and has been made “fresh” again.

Stamens (noun): The male reproductive parts of the flower.

Suburbia (noun): Social and cultural aspects of life in the suburbs.

Tubercular (adjective): Relating to the condition of tuberculosis. Refers specifically to the sickly grey colour skin turns when infected with the disease.

Vermillion (noun): A naturally occurring substance used as a bright, vibrant, red dye. Used to refer to the colour of Mr. Neck’s skin when he gets angry.

Wan (adjective): To be of an unnaturally pale or sickly colour.

Xenophobic (adjective): Relating to the fear or hatred of foreigners or people from different cultures.



SS9M: Image Analysis

You will be given two images and asked to answer one question about each image. Your answer should not be more than 2 sentences in length. So it’s up to you to select the most critical pieces of information.

Example 1:


Question: Why would the people in this painting be engaged in this specific type of gold extraction in 1860?

Answer: Panning or rocking was a method of extracting gold that required little skill or money but yielded less gold than large-scale mining operations. Aboriginal and Chinese prospectors generally did not have the funds or the know-how to undertake large-scale mining operations and rocking/panning meant they did not have to compete with white miners.


Example 2:


Question: This is a photo of Carrall Street a few days after a major event in the city’s history. What event is that and how do we know that?

Answer: This photo was taken in Chinatown, as we can observe from the signage on the building (“Chinese Merchant” and “Pekin Restaurant”). The windows are boarded up because they were smashed during the race riot of 1907, in which an anti-Asian rally turned into a mob that destroyed property in Chinatown and the Japanese quarter.