Analysis rhymes with paralysis, I have discovered: Too often in the past, the texts I asked my freshman English students to analyze left them frozen, detached from their own thoughts and feelings. They scratched at the surface of literature that was not particularly meaningful or accessible to them. The result was cold, inauthentic writing, and I dreaded teaching analysis.

But last summer I read Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O'Dell’s book Beyond Literary Analysis and decided to use their approach. Marchetti and O’Dell uncouple the task of analysis from traditional literary texts and instead invite students to delve into a broader definition of text: “anything that has a beginning, middle, and end and can be broken down into smaller pieces and studied.”