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Close Reading Papers

British Novels of the 19th Century, Spring 2018

Requirements:

In a 2-3 page paper (about 600-900 words), perform a close reading of a select passage from one
of the assigned texts. For this assignment, you should select a passage no longer than 2 pages in
the required edition of the novel and as short as one sentence.

In The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, “Close-reading” is defined as “the
thorough and nuanced analysis of a literary text, with particular emphasis on the
interrelationships among its constituent elements,” such as images, symbolism, diction, allusions,
tone and style. Another way to think of close-reading is as as analysis of a literary text through
detailed attention to and explication of the “words-on-the-page.” In other words, your paper
should address the specific diction, syntax, vocabulary, and sentence structure of a particular
passage of the text. Secondary sources are not required for this assignment.

In performing the close reading, your paper will


 Include a clear thesis statement that provides an interpretation of the text/passage in
relation to a given prompt.
 Describe and analyze specific details of the passage in support of your interpretation
 Demonstrate that your analysis of the passage raises a significant topic, a particular
question, or an original interpretation that demands more investigation to understand the
text as a whole
 Use specific paraphrasing and direct quotations from the text to support your
interpretation; avoid sweeping plot summaries and use brief and specific summary only
when necessary to support your claims (Remember, a “close-reading” is not a plot
summary.)
Grading Criteria

An A paper:
 Presents an original interpretation of the text/passage
 Uses a logical structure with clear introduction, thesis, support, and conclusion
 Uses specific textual evidence to support claims
 Provides clear and thorough explanations of textual details
 Avoids plot summary unless necessary to support a claim, in which case the summary is brief and
includes a clear explanation of how it relates to the overall argument.
 Includes a conclusion that demonstrates how the analysis could lead to further questions about or
a broader investigation of the text
 Is a polished finished product that includes a title and heading and that is free from typos and
errors

A B paper:
 Presents an original interpretation of the text/passage
 Uses a logical structure of introduction, thesis, support, and conclusion, but shows some faults in
structure, such as weak transitions or weak organization of evidence
 Uses specific textual evidence to support claims
 Avoids plot summary unless necessary to support a claim, but may depend more heavily on this
than an A paper, and may at times lack a clear explanation of how the summary fits into the
overall argument
 Presents a polished finished product that includes a title and heading, but may have very few
errors in grammar or mechanics

A C paper will:
 Offers a claim about the text/passage
 Use a logical structure, but may lack a clear introduction or conclusion and/or may lack
transitions or use weak organization
 Refer to some textual evidence to support claims, but lack thorough explanation of that evidence
 Include some plot summary, relying equally on summary and interpretation of passages
 Present a polished finished product, but may lack required features of the heading, or have a few
errors in grammar or mechanics

A D paper will:
 Make a weak or irrelevant overall claim about the text(s)
 Lack a cohesive logical structure
 Provide little or irrelevant textual evidence
 Rely heavily on plot summary, so that most of the paper consists of summary, without offering an
interpretation or analysis of that summary
 Contain many typos or errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, or format

An F paper will:
 Lack a major overall claim about the text
 Fail to provide relevant textual evidence
 Fail to demonstrate any engagement with the reading assignments and/or attention to lectures and
class activities
 Appear unfinished and careless