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Close Reading of a Text

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Katie Guymon

on 10 August 2017

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Transcript of Close Reading of a Text

It’s like inspecting a particular passage with a magnifying glass to see what you can uncover beneath the surface.

Essentially, close reading means the reader's careful interpretation of a text so that s/he can uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension.

This process works best with a limited text so the reader can read a passage several times.
What is Close Reading?
Annotation: A Helpful Tool
Annotation is the act of adding notes or comments to a text, particularly in its margins.

Often, close reading involves annotating texts for the sake of slowing ourselves down and recording our thinking.

Making Annotations: A User's Guide
Why Do We Practice This Skill?
1. The skill of close reading will become a cornerstone as you proceed in your ability to analyze literature in an academic setting.
Close Reading of a Text
2. In this course, it is inevitable that you will be assigned grade-appropriate complex texts. Close reading will help you interpret these challenging texts and will assist you to create a deeper meaning from both fiction and nonfiction passages.

We annotate to leave bread crumbs (like Hansel and Gretel!) of our thinking, helping us to efficiently retrace our thoughts on the page.

Steps of the Process
While there is no exact formula for success, the close reading process involves several steps with different questions to ask about a passage at each point. You will make decisions about which questions are relevant.
1. Your reaction and first impressions after the first read:
What are your first thoughts, feelings, and questions? What jumps out on the page?
What is confusing to you? What words are you not familiar with?
2. Your second thoughts after a reread:
In what ways does the passage connect to other parts of the book, to other texts you have read, or to media (film, current events, songs, etc.)? What does it remind you of?
What is the tone of the passage?
In fiction, what motifs and/or themes surface within the passage?
What is left out of the passage? What voices are silenced by the author?
3. Your fine-print analysis after a third read:
What words or images are repeated or emphasized?
What sentence structures does the author use? Anything unusual or attention-getting?
What diction does the author use? Examine the connotation of particular words.
What figurative language (simile, metaphor, etc.) or literary devices (imagery, symbolism, etc.) are present? Is there any repetition?
What unique forms of punctuation, spelling, or capitalization does the author use?
4. Making personal connections and deeper meaning:
In what ways does the passage connect to other parts of the book, to other texts you have read, or to media (film, current events, songs, etc.)? What does it remind you of?
What is the tone of the passage?
In fiction, what motifs and/or themes surface within the passage?
What is left out of the passage? What voices are silenced by the author?
As you work with your text, consider all of the ways that you can connect with what you are reading. Here are some suggestions:
1. Define unknown words. Make the words real with examples from your experiences. Explore why the author would have used a particular word or phrase.
2. Make connections to other parts of the book, to other texts you have read, or to media (film, current events, songs, etc.)
4. Draw a picture when a visual connection is appropriate.
5. Rewrite, paraphrase, or summarize a particularly difficult passage. Make predictions about what will happen.
6. Make meaningful connections to your own life experiences.
7. Express agreement or disagreement with a claim or argument. Explain a new perspective you might have now.
3. Comment on lines/quotations you think are especially powerful or meaningful.

8. Explain the historical context or traditions/social customs that are highlighted in the passage.
9. Point out/discuss the author's diction, use of figurative language, literary devices, and/or rhetorical devices.
Keep in mind, some of these suggestions strictly apply to literature and others to nonfiction. I'll give you a bookmark that lists these nine suggestions tomorrow in class.
3. Close reading will help you answer particular questions I pose to you as you work your way through a fiction or nonfiction text. It can also be a jumping off point for class discussion, project planning, or essay drafting.
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