This assignment asks you to put the close reading skills we have practiced in class and in Short Responses into a short, but formal, paper. You will select a short passage (around 1-3 sentences) from one of the texts we have read, and perform a close reading (more about this below). After you have unpacked this passage, you will then, in a brief conclusion, start to think about how it relates to the larger concerns of the text.
You should use no outside sources for this assignment (with the exception of the Oxford English Dictionary).
For Close Reading:
• You should identify a short passage to analyze. Read a few pages in each direction to understand the passage’s context, and then read the passage several times. Try to note something different each time that you read it.
• Write out the short passage and place it at the top of your document.
• When writing, do not focus on summarizing the passage. You only need one sentence for context (such as where in the text the passage occurs). Then start analyzing.
• You should focus on the ways the passage creates meaning—HOW do the words create a specific effect for the reader?
• You may want to focus on some (but not all) of the following (see our handout “What is Close Reading? A Very Brief Introduction” for more suggestions):
o Word choice: Why does the narrator/character use a specific word? You should look up these words in the OED for a precise definition.
o Key terms: Does a term have specific significance for the character or text?
o Grammar and Order: Does the arrangement of words or order of presentation create a certain effect?
o Images and figures of speech: Does the passage evoke a specific set of images or discourse? Are specific metaphors or similes used? What effect do they suggest?
o Voice and point of view: Who is speaking? Why is this perspective significant?
• Stick with your analysis. You can always say more. It’s better to unpack one or two details in your close reading than simply list seven or eight observations.
• Your ideas and questions may not have obvious answers at first. This is your main task for the assignment, so you should be thinking hard about them. It will likely take time for you to develop these ideas.
• Consider coming to my office hours to discuss the passage you are working with.
• Use the examples we discuss in class as a guide. Pay attention to the specific language of close reading
After you have completed your close reading, ask yourself:
• What big issues arise from the passage? (you should think about this part as a paragraph or so conclusion)
• What specific passages in that text could be in conversation with the one you analyzed?
• What might this passage suggest about the text (or person speaking) more broadly?
• Make sure that your assessment advances your argument instead of simply confirming what you said in your close reading.
• You need not have a formal “thesis” but you should be making a claim that your close reading supports and advances.
Criteria for Evaluation:
• Close reading is precise and unpacks specific ways in which language creates meaning, suggests possible interpretations, and/or produces a poetic effect.
• Close reading uses language of analysis. Avoids summary.
• Close reading is provocative and gives a reading beyond obvious observations.
• Conclusion talks about larger ideas within the text. Complicates and/or elaborates on our understanding of the text.
• Proper grammar, spelling, and MLA format. You must submit a Works Cited with this assignment.
• NB: Papers with significant grammatical and proofreading errors will earn a grade no higher than C-.
ORDER TODAY YOUR PAPER WITH SIMILAR INSTRUCTIONS AND WE WILL WRITE YOUR PAPER FROM SCRATCH