How to Write a Case Study in Classic English Literature: No More Pain And Struggle

Writing guide
Posted on October 1, 2020

This article is going to help you understand the basics of writing a case study in Classic English literature. Obviously, you can not write a paper without knowing its structure, purpose, and specifics. Without knowing these grounds you would rather come up with a novel than an academic paper. Writing a case study is all about showing off your ability to analyze. Its main idea lies in collating a particular instance with a given thesis. Basically, you are expected to demonstrate your ability to use knowledge and experience in real life to prove the arguments. Most of the context for a case study is most probably something that has a relation to the learner’s environment, as it would be difficult to relate to something that the reader has no understanding about.

Classic English Literature: What Are the Peculiarities Of the Discipline?

The main difficulty of writing in such a discipline as Classic English literature is that you need to be careful of not taking the author’s ideas and thoughts. Of course, you can agree or disagree with them. But there has to be part of you in the essay that shows that it is your flow of thoughts. Words from the authors should never replace your own. You should only use them when you want to say something about the author. Also, it is not appropriate to quote critics even if it seems to you that their words express your mind. It is a lot more helpful to find your own words. What is more, it is useful to come out of your comfort zone in that case. As if finding the right words is a challenge sometimes, then facing that problem face to face can help you make a step forward.

How to Write a Case Study in Classic English Literature – Step-by-Step Instructions

A case study is quite a specific task for a student to complete. It has some differences from the traditional essay, that students are so used to. Here are some tips on how to present a case study to be proud of.

  • Choose a topic that is relatable to your experience or interests. The lack of information in your personal storage can bring about failure. It is a lot less risky to write on a topic that you are more competent in. What is more, the main idea of the case study is to relate the concepts with practical application. Thus, you need to always make sure that the context is clear for you. If you are given a specific task by your teacher that you are not comfortable with then it’s better to consult additional material, like the Internet, books, articles, magazines, documents and other people’s opinions.

    Besides, when you understand your topic you will have more chances to transfer your thoughts to the reader successfully. Think about yourself in this situation – you would less probably continue reading the other person’s case study if his or her idea is not understandable for you. This is why it is important to let other people read your finished product. They can provide an objective view of a usual reader and tell you whether they understand the context or not.
    Here are some examples of the topics:

    • The Case of Status and Wealth in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’
    • The Case of Modern Society in William Golding’s Novella ‘Lord Of The Flies’
    • The Case of Overcoming Obstacles and Poverty in Sherman Alexie’s Novel ‘Reservation Blues’
    • The Case of Corrupting Influence of Ambition in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’
    • The Case of Humanity and Colonialism in J. M. Coetzee’s ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’
  • Provide more realistic explanations. Do not be afraid of using numbers if you feel like they can improve the way the reader understands your piece. If the numbers are crucial then go on as avoiding them can lead to a reader underestimating the seriousness of the problem you are writing about.
  • Use one method of writing a case study. You are more likely to be successful in writing your case study in classic English literature if you stick to one approach of writing it, those patterns are independent of each other and are not recommended to be combined.
  • Review case studies that are relatable to your topic and target the same audience. Analyze the style, method used, materials. What new sources of information did the author used? Get as much useful information as possible, but do not copy their words. Remember that you have your own head on shoulders and is capable of thinking and analyzing as well.
  • Conduct interviews on your topic. Broder and deeper your questions are, the more diverse the range of answers would be. Interviews are a great way to get raw, not processed information about the topic. However, there can be difficulties with conducting interviews in classic English literature as some people can not be familiar with the piece of literature you are using. But that is manageable as well.
  • Follow a plan. A plan is crucial for case study writing. It is a kind of academic paper that demands proper structuring, as the unorganized flow of arguments and examples can lead to chaos and misunderstanding between a reader and a writer.

The Process of Writing Case Studies In Classic English Literature

Overall, case studies have the same structure as any other academic paper: introduction, background information, author’s findings, conclusion.

Read the Piece

Obviously, before writing any academic paper in classic English literature one just read the piece of literature he or she is going to write about. There are numerous descriptions and reviews as well as shortened versions of the classic texts on the Internet. But to really understand the piece and what message the author wanted to convey, it is crucial to take a paper version or download an ebook and read it from A to Z.

Question Yourself

Write questions that would help you coordinate yourself to find the right sources. Write them on a piece of paper and place it in front of your eyes while searching so that you do not forget what kind of material you are looking for.

For example, for the topic ‘The Case of Femininity in Harper Lee’s novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ these questions may be:

  • What is the role of women and how it associates with femininity?
  • How does Scout see masculinity and femininity herself?
  • How does Scout’s occupation want her to regard femininity and masculinity?

And so on.

Set the Goals of the Case Study

A hunter does not shoot when being unprepared and not having a target. Setting a goal is crucial to not swing and touch other topics while not opening yours.

If Necessary Conduct an Interview

Informational interviewing is the most efficient way of getting material for a case study. You may not need it for your paper in Classic English literature, but if yes then these paragraphs would definitely be useful for you. First of all, it demands preparation. Before striking an interview, it is recommended for students to conduct deep research and brainstorming to cover all important aspects of the case. Thus, preparing target questions is undoubtedly imperative.

Before the interview:
Learn about the person you are going to interview, define the goal of the research and compile the list of core questions. It would be helpful to break the main questions into more detailed ones.

During the interview:
You need to prioritize the questions because as the interview goes, a person you are interviewing gets tired. Thus, it is better to ask the most important questions at the beginning while the interviewed person’s attention is still focused on the issue.

  • Secondly, set a relaxed tone. It is not an interrogation, there is no need to intimidate or threaten a person with weird intonation and general atmosphere. Be a patient listener, do not interrupt or be aggressive.
  • Thirdly, take notes or use a recorder on your phone to record the interview.
  • Fourthly, keep reminding yourself of the purpose of the interview and the case study overall so that you have not asked the pre-planned questions but derailed and touched some unnecessary side topics. Compare your expectations to your results.
  • Fifthly, be prepared to hear something you did not expect, and do not interfere with their flow of thoughts to prove them wrong and show off your opinion.

After the interview:
Make out a detailed summary as soon as possible after the interview so that you have fresh memories and impressions. Evaluate the information and compare it to your expectations. Filter the material: the fact that you worked hard to make that interview happen does not mean that all information must be included. You do not need to clutter the case study with trifles.
It is like the main law of composition in art: The piece is only finished when the removal of any element of its causes is demolished.
Generalize the information in a way that would be understandable for the reader.

Collect Everything Together

Writing the case study itself should not be as difficult as the prewriting processes. Your task now is to structure the treasure you have gathered into nice jewelry with the use of words and punctuation. Remember about the formal, academic style.

1. Write an introduction. Reader’s attention should be captured as early as possible. The best bet is to use a rhetorical question, but feel free to experiment with quotes, interesting facts or stories and jokes. While proofreading the introduction, ensure that these questions are answered:

  • What is being studied?
  • Why is this topic relevant?
  • What was discovered before?
  • What new findings are being presented in your case study?
  • How does it differ from thousands of others?
  • How can this paper help with further research?

By the way, it is better to write an introduction after finishing the body paragraphs and make a conclusion match the beginning of the paper.

2. Write the body. The body of the case study is quite specific as it does not have a structure like ‘argument+example’.

  • Background information. Show the state of the issue before your investigation, demonstrate the dynamics of its development.
  • Describe the process of your work. Those results did not appear on their own, did they? For example, with the topic of femininity in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ you need to tell about the specifics of your reading, taking notes, making inferences, interviewing a feminist, literature critic, teacher or one of your relatives or friends. Share the questions from the interview and so on.
  • Reveal the findings. In the case with Harper Lee’s novel, it is appropriate to talk about how Scout perceived the concepts of masculinity, what messages her father Atticus and brother Jem give Scout about gender roles in general, how Aunt Alexandra influenced her vision.

3. Draw a conclusion. As mentioned before, the conclusion should have a connection with the introduction, so it is better to write them in tandem. Remember to not introduce any new findings and ideas. It is not a letter and you can not add P.S. Synthesize the findings and state how they answer the research questions.

4. Proofread. Check the grammar and punctuation. If necessary look up to some words and rules in the dictionary. Read it aloud to spot sentences that sound wrong and unlogical. And do everything possible to answer positively to the following questions.

  • Did I follow the case study format and style of writing?
  • Is my text consistent?
  • Does the introduction match the conclusion?
  • Can the reader see the ‘big picture’?
  • Is there enough proof and examples from either real-life interviews and literature text from the past?
  • Does my case study give more room for researching and thinking?

Hope, these guidelines will help on your way of preparing a case study.

Upgrade your essays with these FREE writing tools!
Get started now