Close Reading: Making it Explicit Prewriting: Step 1: Select a section of the text. This can be broadly construed
Close Reading: Making it Explicit
Step 1: Select a section of the text. This can be broadly construed from as small as a sentence, to a paragraph, to several pages (but probably not the entire text). The selection should be made on the basis of some kind of interest it has given birth to within you. Maybe you have a specific question about it. Maybe you disagree with it. Maybe you dont understand it and its confusing to you. Maybe it makes you uncomfortable. Finally, maybe you just think it is cool. These and other indicators are a sure sign that the text has something to say to you and is waiting underneath the surface to be revealed. The goal here is to make explicit what is implicit.
Check out the following link for some other helpful questions to guide you through passage selection:
Step 2: Approach the passage and the text as a whole systematically. Ask questions of the text. Once you have your passage from the previous step, imagine you are a scientist formulating a theory that accounts for the passage. The text is your data. See if the text confirms or disconfirms your theory. You do not need any outside resources for this exercise. You have all the resources you need in front of you in the text itself and inside of you. Remember what Socrates says about learning!
Step 3: What does it say? This question is fairly straightforward. What is the text literally saying in the passage you have selected? Although this step may seem simple or obvious, it is not. The ability to accurately summarize and express what is in the text, without simply repeating it, is a non-trivial task. Selecting and differentiating what needs saying from what does not is by no means easy.
Step 4: What does it mean? This step may sound very similar to the previous one, but they are importantly distinct. What a passage means may be at odds with what it says, it may expand upon what it says, it may put into context in an important way what it says, and it always enhances and deepens what it says. Think about the relevant context as well when attempting to express what the passage means. This step may be the hardest, but that is because you are beginning the process of interpreting the text, of articulating and actually making explicit what is hidden and implicit underneath the surface.
Step 5: Why is it important? At this step you should be thinking about the relation of the passage to the text as a whole. Think about how what youve done in the previous two steps makes a difference to the text. How does it change things? How does it change us? What difference does it make to how we approach the text and what it is trying to tell us?
Length questions: In general, I do not like to set specific page lengths. The paper is as long as it needs to be to accomplish the items above. However, if you are at five pages, you might want to think about how you can be more precise and edit. You might be repeating things or not being economical with your thought. I think this can be successfully done within the space of one to two pages double-spaced.
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