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Introduction to Close Reading

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MJ Davis

on 14 March 2016

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Transcript of Introduction to Close Reading

Introduction to Close Reading
Mary Jane Davis
myenglishta.com ©2015

Why we close read in literature courses
Language as an artistic medium.

Close Reading IRL
If language is simply a way for us to convey information, does it really matter HOW someone chooses to say something?
Non-literary close reading: body language/facial expressions, tone, diction, punctuation/pauses.
-ex. conversation, text messages/email, etc.

Keep in mind: How does "literary" writing work differently? What remains the same?
Effective Ways to Begin

Close reading = not
reading for information

... More like analyzing brush strokes/negative space painting or thinking about why a play is staged the way it is in a particular production.

Find your annotation style. Maybe you're a Melville. Or a Foster Wallace.Or an Updike.
A Note on Annotations
What is "close reading"?
Reading slowly/carefully

Looking at:
parts of speech,
literary/rhetorical devices,
What are some other elements of the text you might consider?


Identify --> analyze/interpret --> synthesize

Essay = a cluster of close readings tied together with a cohesive, interesting, and interpretive argument about how they work together in the text
"Here is forcibly shown the great Montaignism of Hamlet." (Herman Melville)
"Too much throwing up." (John Updike)
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