New Criticism in Literature Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach students how to analyze literature as a New Critic with this lesson plan. Students will watch a video lesson on the topic, define and discuss content, be guided through examples, then do a project and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define ''New Criticism'' and explain its origin
  • Describe what New Critics do as well as the limitations of New Criticism
  • Analyze literature using New Criticism


1 - 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5

Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.


  • Lesson video New Criticism in Literature: Definition & Examples
  • Children's picture books
  • Access to technology and the internet
  • Copies of a New Criticism review of a book your students are familiar with, such as The Great Gatsby
  • Copies of the quiz, one for each partner pair

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Set out copies of children's books and divide students into partner pairs.
  • Invite partners to come choose a book, not allowing them to open the book. Make sure the texts are not familiar to the students.
  • Once all partners have chosen a text, instruct them to have a seat together and look at the title and cover. How do they feel about the book? Ask them to form an opinion and record.
  • Now have them research the author and form an opinion on their book and record.
  • When finished, discuss:
    • How do you feel about judging the book using these criteria?
    • Is it fair or easy to analyze a book like this? Why or why not?
    • Do you think you could analyze and evaluate the book without using emotion? Why or why not?
  • Ask students to set aside the work for later.

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