Is there sufficient attention to language and textual details?
400-600 words, double-spaced; due on Canvas Sunday 1/30
We often tend to be more familiar and comfortable with questions like: “what does the writer (or text) mean?” But it is equally important to consider how we come to the ideas we have about a text’s meanings. Writing a “Close Reading” analysis is basically taking a step back to examine (and to show your readers) your own interpretive processes. It’s like watching yourself read and documenting that process—how do you interpret a passage/text in the way you do? What led you to your interpretations and observations?
Select a short passage (no more than a short paragraph) that you found particularly interesting, troubling, or significant for whatever reason. Read, re-read, and analyze this passage carefully, considering language, style, word choice, imagery, etc., and how these elements affect the meaning of the passage. Instead of jumping right to your interpretation, explain the steps and the processes by which you arrived at your interpretation.
Using these details from the passage and the steps of your interpretation as evidence, your analysis should lead to and generate an argument about the text that the passage—and your interpretation/analysis of the passage—supports. [*Copy/type out the passage/quote and include either at the beginning or at the end of your paper.]
Although the bulk of your paper should be a detailed textual analysis focusing on your passage, it should move “outward” as well; that is, it should address how your analysis of a small part of the text reflects, illuminates, and/or complicates larger theme(s) or issue(s). An effective close reading should weave together attention to specific details and language with larger issues of the text as a whole. Similarly, your interpretation of your chosen passage should be consistent with and take into some consideration the text as a whole. Is your interpretation and argument about the passage logical and/or persuasive when we look at the text as a whole, not just the passage by itself?
You may choose to write your analysis on two passages, from two different parts of the text. If you choose to do so, your analysis should not only address textual details in both passages, but also explain how the meaning(s) of the two passages are related, and the implications of this relationship for the larger issue/theme in the text.
Lastly—but certainly not least—your paper should also address the question of stakes: what is at stake in your argument about the text? In other words, why is it useful, productive, significant, etc., to read the text in the way that you do? What do we get out of it?
Explanation: Is there sufficient attention to language and textual details? Does the writer explain the steps of their interpretation and analysis clearly and logically?
Analysis: Is there interpretation and analysis (not just descriiption)? Does the writer make a logical persuasive point based on textual evidence? Does the writer’s interpretation and point consistent with the text as a whole, not just the passage that the writer is analyzing?
Context and Stakes: Do the interpretation, analysis and conclusions take context (socio-historical or other) into consideration, in addition to the text itself? Does the writer convey a sense of what is at stake in their interpretation/point? [Why is it useful, productive, significant, etc., for the reader to understand this text in the way that the paper suggests?]
Language/Mechanics, Organization/structure: grammar usage, sentence structure, appropriate word choices, cohesion, organization