Proposal: Literature

(stealing idea from a related Meta.SE answer), I'd like to pre-emptively highlight an area of concern so ideas to address it can be worked through in advance.

Literary analysis, at least in my experience, seem not perfectly suited to Q&A format:

  • They more often tend to be disussive format

  • The answers tend to be a bit more subjective and opinion based

(please note that above are my personal opinions, they may not necessarily be correct, but I know plenty of people who agree).

Assuming there's some truth to these concerns, what are the good approaches to shoehorning literary analysis into Q&A format?


1 Answer 1


As I've written several times in other answers, literary analysis questions have already been asked and answered successfully on other sites. In particular, I'm thinking about the Mythology Stack Exchange website, where people have successfully asked and answered some relatively difficult questions about literary elements in mythology. For example:

  1. Symbolism of Ixion's Punishment
  2. What is the meaning of the half burning tree in the Mabinogion?
  3. Why did King Kilydd conceal his son from his wife?

I want to clarify that literary analysis isn't just a subjective say whatever you want rorschach test. It is true that very often, there is more than one way of approaching a question and therefore more than one correct answer. But the same could be said of something like programming, where many questions can be solved using different methods.

From my experience, literary analysis questions work best when both the asker and answerer have actually read the book in question, and when both are willing to quote from the book in their questions/answers.

  • Um. Isn't the last paragraph something... obviously duh?
    – DVK
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 15:57
  • 1
    @DVK you would think, but experience from sites like mythology and scifi.se tells me that lots of people want to ask/answer questions without reading the book/quoting the book.
    – user36412
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:42
  • @DVK clears throat scifi.stackexchange.com/… Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 12:44
  • @randal'thor - you're more of an exception, someone able to do amazing research of a topic related to a work you haven't consumed.
    – DVK
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 3:57

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