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PORTABLE Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing, 2016 MLA Update, 9th Edition

  • Laurie G. Kirszner
  • Stephen R. Mandell
  • ISBN-10: 1337281018
  • ISBN-13: 9781337281010
  • 1440 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2016, 2016, 2013
  • COPYRIGHT: 2017 Published
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About the Product

PORTABLE LITERATURE: READING, REACTING, WRITING, Ninth Edition, includes a wide selection of essential classic and contemporary readings along with brief introductions to the literary genres, useful study questions and prompts, and a down-to-earth, accessible guide to writing about literature. This streamlined edition is an affordable, portable alternative to the full-length and compact versions of this popular Introduction to Literature text. This edition has been updated to reflect guidelines from the 2016 MLA HANDBOOK, Eighth Edition.


  • PORTABLE LITERATURE: READING, REACTING, WRITING, Ninth Edition, includes all of the essential classic and contemporary readings along with brief introductions to the literary genres and useful study questions and prompts, providing everything students need in a convenient and affordable format.

  • The text opens with a down-to-earth, accessible guide to writing about literature, providing students with a solid foundation from which to approach readings, assignments, and discussions throughout the course.

  • Over eight editions, this brief but thorough Introduction to Literature text has been consistently praised for its clarity and student friendliness. In the ninth edition, Kirszner and Mandell continue to bring their student-centered approach to discussions of literary elements, including stories, poems, and plays that students are sure to find relevant and interesting.

  • The text includes five sample student papers, carefully selected to provide students with examples of effective responses to assignments frequently used in Introduction to Literature, Composition, and Argument courses.

About the Author

Laurie G. Kirszner

Laurie G. Kirszner is a best-selling author who is well known nationally. Kirszner, together with coauthor Stephen R. Mandell, has written best sellers for nearly every English market. They have the deepest publishing record of any literature anthology author team and have successfully published up and down the curriculum from developmental to literature.

Stephen R. Mandell

Stephen R. Mandell is a best-selling author who is well known nationally. Mandell, together with coauthor Laurie G. Kirszner, has written best sellers for nearly every English market. They have the deepest publishing record of any literature anthology author team and have successfully published up and down the curriculum from developmental to literature.

Table of Contents

1. Reading and Writing about Literature.
Reading Literature. CHECKLIST: Using Highlighting Symbols. Maya Angelou, "My Arkansas." Writing About Literature. CHECKLIST: Using Sources. CHECKLIST: Conventions of Writing About Literature. Exercise: Three Model Student Essays.
2. Writing Literary Arguments.
Planning a Literary Argument. CHECKLIST: Developing an Argument Thesis. Using Evidence Effectively. Organizing a Literary Argument.
3. Documenting Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism.
Avoiding Plagiarism. CHECKLIST: Avoiding Unintentional Plagiarism. Documenting Sources. CHECKLIST: Guidelines for Punctuating Parenthetical References.
4. Understanding Fiction.
Origins of Modern Fiction. Defining the Short Story. Ernest Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants." The Boundaries of Fiction.
5. Fiction Sampler: The Short-Short Story.
Julia Alvarez, "Snow." Amanda Brown, "Love and Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape." Lydia Davis, "Television." Dave Eggers, "Accident." Bret Anthony Johnston, "Encounters with Unexpected Animals." Stephen Graham Jones, "Discovering America." Jamaica Kincaid, "Girl." Ed Park, "Slides to Unlock." George Saunders, "Sticks."
6. Fiction Sampler: Graphic Fiction.
Max Brooks, from "The Harlem Hellfighters." Marjane Satrapi, from "Persepolis." Art Spiegelman, from "Maus." Gene Luen Yang, from "American Born Chinese."
7. Plot.
Conflict. Stages of Plot. Order and Sequence. CHECKLIST: Writing about Plot. Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour." Neil Gaiman, "How to Talk to Girls at Parties." William Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily." Dick Pothier and Thomas J. Gibbons Jr., "A Woman's Wintry Death Leads to a Long-Dead Friend."
8. Character.
Round and Flat Characters. Dynamic and Static Characters. Motivation. CHECKLIST: Writing about Character. John Updike, "A&P." Katherine Mansfield, "Miss Brill." Charles Baxter, "Gryphon." Zadie Smith, "The Girl with Bangs."
9. Setting.
Historical Setting. Geographical Settings. Physical Settings. CHECKLIST: Writing about Setting. Kate Chopin, "The Storm." Sherman J. Alexie, "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona." Tillie Olsen, "I Stand Here Ironing."
10. Point of View.
First-Person Narrators. Third-Person Narrators. Selecting an Appropriate Point of View. CHECKLIST: Selecting an Appropriate Point of View: Review. CHECKLIST: Writing about Point of View. Richard Wright, "Big Black Good Man." Edgar Allan Poe, "The Cask of Amontillado." William Faulkner, "Barn Burning." Edwidge Danticat, "New York Day Women."
11. Style, Tone, and Language.
Style and Tone. The Uses of Language. Formal and Informal Diction. Imagery. Figures of Speech. CHECKLIST: Writing about Style, Tone, and Language. James Joyce, "Araby." (Mary) Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried."
12. Symbol, Allegory, and Myth.
Symbol. Allegory. Myth. CHECKLIST: Writing about Symbol, Allegory, and Myth. Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery." Alice Walker, "Everyday Use." Raymond Carver, "Cathedral." Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown."
13. Theme.
Interpreting Themes. Identifying Themes. CHECKLIST: Writing about Theme. Eudora Welty, "A Worn Path." David Michael Kaplan, "Doe Season." D(avid) H(erbert) Lawrence, "The Rocking-Horse Winner." Robert Huff, "Rainbow."
14. Fiction for Further Reading.
T. Coraghessan Boyle, "Greasy Lake." Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Lorrie Moore, "Referential." Joyce Carol Oates, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Alberto Alvaro Rios, "The Secret Lion." Amy Tan, "Two Kinds." Tobias Wolff, "Bullet in the Brain."
15. Understanding Poetry.
Marianne Moore, "Poetry." Pamela Spiro Wagner, "How to Read A Poem: Beginner's Manual." Origins of Modern Poetry. Defining Poetry. William Shakespeare, "That time of year thou mayst in me behold." E.E. Cummings, "l(a)." Recognizing Kinds of Poetry.
16. Voice.
Emily Dickinson, "I'm nobody! Who are you?" The Speaker in the Poem. Louise Gluck, "Gretel in Darkness." Langston Hughes, "Negro." Robert Browning, "My Last Duchess." Further Reading: The Speaker in the Poem. Leslie Marmon Silko, "Where Mountain Lion Lay Down with Deer." Janice Mirikitani, "Suicide Note." The Tone of the Poem. Robert Frost, "Fire and Ice." Thomas Hardy, "The Man He Killed." Amy Lowell, "Patterns." Further Reading: The Tone of the Poem. William Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much with Us." Sylvia Plath, "Morning Song." Robert Herrick, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time." Irony. Robert Browning, "Porphyria's Lover." Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ozymandias." Further Reading: Irony. Sherman Alexie, "Evolution." Sandra M. Castillo, "Castro Moves into the Havana Hilton." Agha Shahid Ali, "The Wolf's Postscript to 'Little Red Riding Hood.'" Dudley Randall, "Ballad of Birmingham." Wislawa Szymborska, "Hitler's First Photograph." CHECKLIST: Writing about Voice. Emily Dickinson, "Hope is the thing with feathers--."
17. Word Choice, Word Order.
Bob Holman, "Beautiful." Word Choice. Walt Whitman, "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer." Further Reading: Word Choice. Rhina Espaillat, "Bilingual/Bilingue." Martin Espada, "The Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Stomp." Adrienne Rich, "Living in Sin." E.E. Cummings, "in Just-." Francisco X. Alarcon, "'Mexican' Is Not a Noun." Levels of Diction. Margaret Atwood, "The City Planners." Jim Sagel, "Baca Grande." Further Reading: Levels of Diction. Andrienne Su, "The English Canon." Mark Halliday, "The Value of Education." Paul Laurence Dunbar, "We Wear the Mask." Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool." Gwendolyn Brooks, "What Shall I Give My Children?" Word Order. Edmund Spenser, "One day I wrote her name upon the strand." E.E. Cummings, "anyone lived in a pretty how town." Further Reading: Word Order. A.E. Housman, "To an Athlete Dying Young." CHECKLIST: Writing about Word Choice and Word Order.
18. Imagery.
Jane Flanders, "Cloud Painter." William Carlos Williams, "Red Wheelbarrow." Ezra Pound, "In a Station of the Metro." Gary Snyder, "Some Good Things to Be Said for the Iron Age." William Carlos Williams, "The Great Figure." Further Reading: Imagery. F.J. Bergmann, "An Apology." Hart Crane, "Echoes." Lola Ridge, "Wall Street at Night." Eavan Boland, "This Moment." Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay." Jean Toomer, "Reapers." Sonia Sanchez, "Haiku." Frederick Morgan, "The Busses." William Shakespeare, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." CHECKLIST: Writing about Imagery.
19. Figures of Speech.
William Shakespeare, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Simile, Metaphor, and Personification. Langston Hughes, "Harlem." Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "Constantly Risking Absurdity." Audre Lorde, "Rooming houses are old women." Further Reading: Simile, Metaphor, and Personification. Robert Burns, "Oh, my love is like a red, red rose." N. Scott Momaday, "Simile." Sylvia Plath, "Metaphors." Lawrence Raab, "The Poem That Can't Be Written." Randall Jarrell, "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner." Marge Piercy, "The Secretary Chant." John Donne, "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." Hyperbole and Understatement. Sylvia Plath, "Daddy." Edna St. Vincent Millay, "If I should learn, in some quite casual way." Further Reading: Hyperbole and Understatement. Anne Bradstreet, "To My Dear and Loving Husband." Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress." Robert Frost, "Out, Out--." Countee Cullen, "Incident." Margaret Atwood, "You fit into me." Metonymy and Synecdoche. Richard Lovelace, "To Lucasta Going to the Wars." Apostrophe. Nancy Mercado, "Going to work." Further Reading: Apostrophe. John Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale." Allen Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California." CHECKLIST: Writing about Figures of Speech.
20. Sound.
Walt Whitman, "Had I the Choice." Rhythm. Gwendolyn Brooks, "Sadie and Maud." Meter. Emily Dickinson, "I like to see it lap the Miles--." Further Reading: Rhythm and Meter. Adrienne Rich, "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers." Thomas Lux, "A Little Tooth." Lewis Carroll, "A Boat beneath a Sunny Sky." Alliteration and Assonance. Robert Herrick, "Delight in Disorder." Rhyme. Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken." Further Reading: Alliteration, Assonance, and Rhyme. Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Pied Beauty." Shel Silverstein, "Where the Sidewalk Ends." Jacob Saenz, "Evolution of My Block." Lewis Carroll, "Jabberwocky." CHECKLIST: Writing about Sound.
21. Form.
John Keats, "On the Sonnet." Billy Collins, "Sonnet." Closed Form. William Shakespeare, "When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes." Further Reading: The Sonnet. John Keats, "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer." Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Love is not all." Lynn Aarti Chandhok, "The Carpet Factory." Gwendolyn Brooks, "First Fight. Then Fiddle." Rhina P. Espaillat, "'Find Work.'" Alberto Alvaro Rios, "Nani." Further Reading: The Sestina. Elizabeth Bishop, "Sestina." Patricia Smith, "Ethel's Sestina." Theodore Roethke, "The Waking." Deborah Paredez, "Wife's Manual Disaster." Further Reading: The Epigram. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "What Is an Epigram?" Dorothy Parker, "News Item." Carol Ann Duffy, "Mrs. Darwin." Martin Espada, "Why I Went to College." A.R. Ammons, "Both Ways." Wang Ping, "Syntax." Further Reading: Haiku. Matsuo Basho, "Four Haiku." Jack Kerouac, "American Haiku," Open Form. Carl Sandburg, "Chicago." E.E. Cummings, "the sky was can dy." Further Reading: Open Form. Walt Whitman, from "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." William Carlos Williams, "Spring and All." Richard Blanco, "Mexican Almuerzo in New England." Claire Lee, "Living in Numbers." CHECKLIST: Writing about Form.
22. Symbol, Allegory, Allusion, Myth.
William Blake, "The Sick Rose." Symbol. Robert Frost, "For Once, Then, Something." Emily Dickinson, "Volcanoes be in Sicily." Further Reading: Symbol. Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven." Virgil Suarez, "Isla." Allegory. Christina Rossetti, "Uphill." Further Reading: Allegory. Carl Dennis, "At the Border." Allusion. William Meredith, "Dreams of Suicide." Further Reading: Allusion. Billy Collins, "Aristotle." R. S. Gwynn, "Shakespearean Sonnet." Myth. Countee Cullen, "Yet Do I Marvel." Further Reading: Myth. May Swenson, "The Centaur." William Butler Yeats, "Leda and the Swan." W.H. Auden, "Musee des Beaux Arts." T.S. Eliot, "Journey of the Magi." CHECKLIST: Writing about Symbol, Allegory, Allusion, Myth.
23. Discovering Themes in Poetry.
Robert Herrick, "The Argument of His Book." Poems about Parents. Theodore Roethke, "My Papa's Waltz." Robert Hayden, "Those Winter Sundays." Julia Alvarez, "Dusting." Seamus Heaney, "Digging." Mitsuye Yamada, "The Night Before Goodbye." Richard Blanco, "Papa's Bridge." Andrew Hudgins, "Elegy for My Father, Who Is Not Dead." Dylan Thomas, "Do not go gentle into that good night." Poems about Nature. William Wordsworth, "I wandered lonely as a cloud." Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Windhover." A.E. Housman, "Loveliest of Trees." Carl Sandburg, "Fog." Carl Sandburg, "Autumn Movement." Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things." Robert Frost, "Birches." Denise Levertov, "Living." Poems about Love. Robert Browning, "Meeting at Night." Robert Browning, "Parting at Morning." Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How Do I Love Thee?" Edna St. Vincent Millay, "What lips my lips have kissed." Jehanne Dubrow, "Before the Deployment." Leigh Hunt, "Jenny Kissed Me." Dorothy Parker, "General Review of the Sex Situation." Tupac Shakur, "Love Is Just Complicated." Poems about War. Wilfred Owen, "Dulce et Decorum Est." Siegfried Sassoon, "Atrocities." Rupert Brooke, "The Soldier." John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields." Radiohead, "Harry Patch (in Memory of)." Henry Reed, "Naming of Parts." W.H. Auden, from "In Time of War." Yusef Komunyakaa, "Facing It." Brian Turner, "Here, Bullet." David Hernandez, "Mosul." Richard Wilbur, "Terza Rima." Wislawa Szymborska, "The End and the Beginning."
24. Poetry for Further Reading.
Sherman J. Alexie, "Defending Walt Whitman." Anonymous, "Bonny Barbara Allan." Anonymous, "Go Down, Moses." Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach." Elizabeth Bishop, "One Art." William Blake, "The Chimney Sweeper." William Blake, "The Lamb." William Blake, "London." William Blake, "To see a World in a Grain of Sand." William Blake, "The Tyger." Elizabeth Bradfield, "Why They Went." Anne Bradstreet, "The Author to Her Book." Gwendolyn Brooks, "The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock." Gwendolyn Brooks, "Medgar Evers." Charles Bukowski, "so you want to be a writer?" George Gordon, Lord Byron, "She Walks in Beauty." Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Kubla Khan." Billy Collins, "Introduction to Poetry." Bill Coyle, "Aubade." E.E. Cummings, "Buffalo Bill's." E.E. Cummings, "next to of course god america i." Jim Daniels, "Short-Order Cook." Emily Dickinson, "Because I could not stop for Death--." Emily Dickinson, "'Faith' is a fine invention." Emily Dickinson, "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died--." Emily Dickinson, "Much Madness is divinest Sense--." Emily Dickinson, "My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun." Emily Dickinson, "The Soul selects her own Society--." Emily Dickinson, "There is no Frigate like a Book." Emily Dickinson, "There's a certain Slant of light." Emily Dickinson, "This is a letter to the World." John Donne, "Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God." John Donne, "Death Be Not Proud." John Donne, "The Flea." Rita Dove, "Flash Cards." Denise Duhamel, "Buddhist Barbie." T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Louise Erdrich, "Indian Boarding School: The Runaways." Martin Espada, "The Community College Revises Its Curriculum in Response to Changing Demographics." Robert Frost, "Mending Wall." Robert Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Richard Garcia, "Why I Left the Church." Thomas Hardy, "The Convergence of the Twain." Seamus Heaney, "Mid-Term Break." William Ernest Henley, "Invictus." David Hernandez, "Museum Guard." Gerard Manley Hopkins, "God's Grandeur." Langston Hughes, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." Langston Hughes, "Theme for English B." John Keats, "La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad." John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn." John Keats, "When I Have Fears." Lam Thi My Da, "Bomb Crater Sky." Archibald Macleish, "Ars Poetica." Christopher Marlowe, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." Claude McKay, "If We Must Die." Pat Mora, "La Migra." Pablo Neruda, "Tonight I Can Write." Pablo Neruda, "The United Fruit Co." Sharon Olds, "The One Girl at the Boys' Party." Linda Pastan, "Ethics." Marge Piercy, "Barbie Doll." Sir Walter Raleigh, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Richard Cory." Cynthia Rylant, "God Went to Beauty School." William Shakespeare, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds." William Shakespeare, "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments." Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind." Stevie Smith, "Not Waving but Drowning." Gary Soto, "Who Will Know Us?" Wole Soyinka, "Hamlet." Wallace Stevens, "Anecdote of the Jar." Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream." Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "Ulysses." Dylan Thomas, "Fern Hill." Ko Un, "In the old days a poet once said." Phillis Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America." Walt Whitman, "I Hear America Singing." Walt Whitman, "A Noiseless Patient Spider." Walt Whitman, from "Song of Myself." William Wordsworth, "London, 1802." William Wordsworth, "My heart leaps up when I behold." William Butler Yeats, "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop." William Butler Yeats, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree." William Butler Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium." William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming." Monica Youn, "Stealing The Scream."
Poetry Sampler: Poetry and Art.
Rita Dove, "Sonnet in Primary Colors." Jane Flanders, "Van Gogh's Bed." Allen Ginsberg, "Cézanne's Ports." Robert Hayden, "Monet's 'Waterlilies.'" Linda Pastan, "Edward Hopper, Untitled." Anne Sexton, "The Starry Night." Cathy Song, "Girl Powdering Her Neck."
25. Understanding Drama.
Dramatic Literature. Origins of Modern Drama. Defining Drama. Anton Chekhov, "The Brute." A Note on Translations. Recognizing Kinds of Drama.
26. Drama Sampler: Ten-Minute Plays.
Jane Martin, "Beauty." Kimberly Pau, "Magic 8 Ball." Harold Pinter, "Applicant."
27. Plot.
Plot Structure. Plot Development. CHECKLIST: Writing about Plot. David Ives, "The Blizzard." Warren Leight, "Nine Ten." Susan Glaspell, "Trifles." Henrik Ibsen, "A Doll House."
28. Character.
Characters' Words. Characters' Actions. Stage Directions. Actors' Interpretations. CHECKLIST: Writing about Character. Paul Dooley and Winnie Holzman, "Post-its." Arthur Miller, "Death of a Salesman." William Shakespeare, "Hamlet."
29. Staging.
Stage Directions. The Uses of Staging. A Final Note. CHECKLIST: Writing about Staging. Michael Salomon, "The Date." Milcha Sanchez-Scott, "The Cuban Swimmer." Sophocles, "Oedipus the King."
30. Theme.
Titles. Conflicts. Dialogue. Characters. Staging. A Final Note. CHECKLIST: Writing about Theme. Sophocles, "Antigone." August Wilson, "Fences."

New to this edition

  • The MLA documentation reflects significant changes in the new MLA HANDBOOK Eighth Edition, published in April 2016.
  • This new edition continues to feature a high concentration of diverse contemporary fiction, poetry, and drama selections while incorporating canonical pieces that were not included in previous editions.
  • More than 20% of the stories are new to this edition.
  • Almost 20% of the poems are new to this edition.
  • Almost 30% of the plays are new to this edition.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the Main title.
Please see Main title page for new to this edition information.

Instructor Supplements

Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 1305113632 | ISBN-13: 9781305113633)

Designed to give you maximum flexibility in planning and customizing your courses, the Instructor's Manual provides an abundance of instructor materials, including suggested discussions and activities for every reading in the book, a thematic table of contents, sample syllabi, and articles on the literary canon and reader-response theory.

Instructor's Companion Website  (ISBN-10: 1305115864 | ISBN-13: 9781305115866)

Find everything you need for your course in one place. This collection of book-specific lecture and class tools is available online via

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Student Supplements

MindTap Literature, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Kirszner/Mandell's Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing  (ISBN-10: 1305115848 | ISBN-13: 9781305115842)

MindTap Literature for Kirszner/Mandell's Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing, 9th Edition provides you with the tools you need to better manage your limited time -- you can complete assignments whenever and wherever you are ready to learn with course material specially customized for you by your instructor and streamlined in one proven, easy-to-use interface. With an array of tools and apps -- from note taking to flashcards -- you'll get a true understanding of course concepts, helping you to achieve better grades and setting the groundwork for your future courses. Access to this product is valid for 6 months of usage.