A close reading is a careful, thorough, sustained examination of the words that make up a text.
A close reading uses short quotations (a few words or only one word) inside sentences that make an argument about the work itself (rather than an argument about your reactions, incidents in the author's life, or whether things today are different from or similar to the society depicted in the story).
In a close reading, a literary work is not so much a window to look through, nor is it a mirror to reflect yourself. Instead, you look closely at the language the author chose, in order to analyze what the author has accomplished.
Note: Close reading is always re-reading.
- Read: Read the assigned text.
- React: 24 hours before we discuss an assigned text in class, post your Agenda Item (a brief quote from the assigned reading, and a brief note explaining what you'd say when called on in class) posted to your blog, following the trackback procedure (which I'll explain when the time comes). Even if you haven't finished the assigned reading, please post your agenda item on time, so your peers will have something to talk about.
- Respond: Before class time, I'd like to see everyone post 2-4 comments on peer blogs, but our class is small enough that I think we should all follow each other's blogs.
- Reflect: Bring to class a half-page reflection paper that mentions by name a student whose agenda item helped you notice or question something about the assigned reading. I encourage you to post that half-page reflection on your blog, but doing so is optional. (Your upcoming portfolio assignments will ask you to include examples of blog entries that show your ability to reflect deeply, to launch a good discussion, etc., so it will be to your benefit to plan to publish longer reflections on topics that really interest you.)