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ENC 1102 - Wycha (East Campus): Background

Research Unit




When we read, we often get so involved with the characters and events of the stories that we don’t think about the authors. Authors don’t simply come up with an idea for a story out of thin air. They are inspired by something and feel compelled to flesh out the inspiration in their literature. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that authors write themselves as characters. That would be a stretch (and probably boring!). However, there is no escaping the fact that the background, experiences, and beliefs of authors find a way into their literature. For example, Junot Díaz is Dominican but was raised in New Jersey. Much of his literature contains Dominican American characters and is set in either the Dominican Republic or in New Jersey. Another example is Flannery O’Connor, who had lupus. She was an ill woman whose life was cut short, and she often writes characters with some type of illness or deformity (though never lupus). You can see, therefore, that this personal experience inspired her art. James Baldwin is a great example of an author who was inspired by his social and political beliefs. He was a strong supporter of civil rights and felt compelled to write stories about the struggles of African Americans during the 1950s and 1960s. This idea that literature is influenced by the lives of its authors is the premise for your research essay.