Close reading essay

A truly attentive close reading of a two-hundred-word poem might be thousands of words long without exhausting the possibilities for observation and insight. To take an even more extreme example, Jacques Derrida 's essay Ulysses Gramophone , which J. Hillis Miller describes as a "hyperbolic, extravagant... explosion" of the technique of close reading, [2] devotes more than eighty pages to an interpretation of the word "yes" in James Joyce 's modernist novel Ulysses . "We believe it is the interaction, the transaction , between the reader and the text that not only creates meaning but creates the reason to read" (p. 3).

This lesson prepares the instructor--even at the college level--to teach Emerson. It provides important context, explanations, and glosses of Emerson's dense but famous essay. Emerson's work is challenging for students, even at the college level, because his writing does not appear to be transparent or follow the form of a logical, traditional argument. This lesson provides openings and important instruction into how to approach AND understand Emerson. It is designed in such a way that students (and professors/teachers) have the tools they need to engage with his philosophical ideas, as well as with his style and rhetoric. Indeed, this lesson makes Emerson relevant by requiring students to consider and then respond to the basic tenets of "Self-Reliance." The nod to Twitter in the activity is creative and fun. My only suggestion would be to consider in what ways Emerson and his ideas and work have come to occupy a hallowed space in American culture and the American literary imagination.

To do a close reading, you choose a specific passage and analyze it in fine detail, as if with a magnifying glass. You then comment on points of style and on your reactions as a reader. Close reading is important because it is the building block for larger analysis. Your thoughts evolve not from someone else's truth about the reading, but from your own observations. The more closely you can observe, the more original and exact your ideas will be. To begin your close reading, ask yourself several specific questions about the passage. The following questions are not a formula, but a starting point for your own thoughts. When you arrive at some answers, you are ready to organize and write. You should organize your close reading like any other kind of essay, paragraph by paragraph, but you can arrange it any way you like.

Close reading essay

close reading essay


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