Overview When your teachers or professors ask you to analyze a literary text, they often look for something frequently called close reading. Close reading is deep analysis of how a literary text works; it is both a reading process and something you include in a literary analysis paper, though in a refined form. Fiction writers and poets build texts out of many central components, including subject, form, and specific word choices. Literary analysis involves examining these components, which allows us to find in small parts of the text clues to help us understand the whole.
First, here are some general close reading guidelines, which will help you with this assignment as well as the Course Essay and Final Project. Close reading is a foundational tool for all critical writing that is, all writing produced in response to a literary text or other artwork.
It is so important because it is the chief means by which we support our interpretive claims with evidence. The close reading of literary texts usually involves describing with great specificity how those texts employ verbal association, implicit suggestion, and various other rhetorical and formal features to generate their effects and meanings; in the process, it can help us to see what is most distinctive about that text in terms of content, ideas, or form.
Close readings will include one or more of the following strategies: A restatement of ideas intended to clarify the basic meaning of a text Tight Paraphrase: A word-for-word or phrase-for-phrse restatement of the text that follows the same syntax as the original Description of what you see as an important dynamic, image, tone, or other textual feature Explanation of an important or difficult aspect of the text relevant to Close reading essay assignment discussion The Identification and Analysis of Patterns or Distinctive Features, such as Ambiguities, which may be created by syntax such as word order or punctuationby vocabulary for example, puns, euphemisms, innuendoor by other resonant associations that can produce multiple meanings Repetitions, for example, of sounds, words, images, actions, themes, etc.
Intertextuality, in which a text evokes prior texts to generate a variety of effects and meanings. This may be a quotation or an indirect allusion or even an imitation of style ranging from homage to parody Close readings will always include: Quotation and explanation of what you quote.
You will always discuss specific words from a text, but do not assume that others will understand and think about the words in the same way you do. We will all understand them a little differently.
You must explain how you understand the words, tone, terms, images you quote as working, or your reader may not follow your argument.
Only quote text that is relevant to supporting the argument you are making.
Finally, every important claim about a text in a close reading will be offer direct evidence from the text to support it. You must quote the evidence and explain why and how it supports your assertion.
Assertions such as the ones above should be made in support of a larger thesis.
Your claims should be presented in this way as debatable: Note how these close reading techniques get you to focus on the contents of a work at a very narrow and precise level. It can also help you to turn a vague claim into a more specific, stimulating, and persuasive one.
Close reading can be complicated, but you can think of the basic process as dividing into three simple steps. First, you figure out what the text says, perhaps by means of a paraphrase. Then you turn your attention to how the text conveys what it says: In literature, how something is said is generally as important as—and inextricable from—what is said, because how changes what: And, third, in the process of paying attention to the how of the text, the what of the text can seem, retroactively, to become more rich and resonant.
What the text says takes on meaning that includes but also extends beyond the form and content of the literary work. This meaning of the text is your interpretation.
Paraphrase Write a loose paraphrase of the passage: Do this as if you were briefly describing what is happening to an interested friend who has read the story up to that point.
Do not merely summarize. Annotation Annotate the passage. Carefully identify important elements of the passage, paying special attention to the language of the passage.
Feel free to draw arrows or make other meaningful and legible markings.US History I – To Close-Reading Assignment In this paper, you will do a close reading of two texts: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass, and the excerpt of Cannibals All by George Fitzhugh.
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
1 of 49 GRADE LEVEL: A Close Reading of The Great Fire by Jim Murphy (excerpt) Sample Common Core Lesson Set, updated with Mini-Assessment by Lyn Cannaday, high school social studies teacher, with Student Achievement Partners.
Writing Spaces is an open textbook project for college-level writing studies courses. Each volume in the Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing series contains peer-reviewed collections of essays about writing—all composed by teachers for students—with each book available for download for free under a Creative Commons license.
Four College-Level Writing Assignments: Text Complexity, Close Reading, and the Five-Paragraph Essay Elizabeth Brockman Central Michigan University. First, here are some general close reading guidelines, which will help you with this assignment as well as the Course Essay and Final Project.
Close reading is a foundational tool for all critical writing (that is, all writing produced in response to a literary text or other artwork).