ENG115 Close Reading Assignment

Select one assigned reading from the readings listed this period.

Choose a paragraph or so from a prose selection or a stanza or so from a poem and craft a close reading that explains what this passage reveals about the text’s historical, literary, or cultural context.

You may focus on explicating the passage’s theme or its form or a combination of both. You may refer to other passages and/or key events in the text, but the focus of your argument should draw evidence from the paragraph/stanza or so you select.

To assist your argument about what your passage reveals about text’s historical, literary, or cultural context, you may need to conduct research in peer-reviewed journals or books. Please note, if you choose to do so, your paper should consist of your own argument, and not a discussion of another author’s argument.

For helpful resources that contain peer-reviewed journals and books on literature, please visit the CCAC Library homepage. I recommend using the “Databases A-Z” link to search databases for journals and scholarly texts. You should also consider contacting a reference librarian who can help you find sources at any of the CCAC Campuses.

Suggested Format:

·  Introduction: Peak your reader’s interest and focus your argument. You will probably need to describe briefly your selected passage (situate it within the larger context of the entire text). You may also consider focusing on some aspect of the historical, literary, or cultural context that your passage will illuminate.

o Thesis: Place your thesis in the first paragraph.

§ Interest! Make sure your reader understands (implicitly or explicitly) what makes this argument worthwhile. What will the reader gain from reading your argument?

•  Body: The paper’s support (approximately pages 2-4). Start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that connects the evidence with a portion of the thesis.

•  Conclusion: Can be brief—one paragraph. Wrap up your argument. You might consider talking about other issues your argument raises—aspects your focus did not allow you cover, but would be important for a longer paper. Finally, double check to make sure your concluding remarks match your thesis statement. Have you shifted directions? Come to a more specific set of conclusions? If so, revise your thesis to reflect these changes.

Length: 4-5 pages, following the formatting guidelines below.


·  Your essay must be double-spaced

·  Typed in Times New Roman

·  12 point font

·  1 inch margins

·   It must adhere to all MLA format standards (including these).

·  You only need a heading on the essay, not a title page.

·  Your essay is expected to be grammatically correct.

·  The essay should have an MLA Works Cited page.

Grading on this assignment will focus equally on grammar and content.

Adapted from assignments by Kristin Jacobson, Stockton University.

Chs. 1 & 2 – all 

John Updike: “A & P”

Jamaica Kincaid: “Girl”

Henrik Ibsen: “A Doll’s House”

Langston Hughes: “Salvation”

David Sedaris: “What I Learned”

David Foster Wallace: “Commencement Speech, Kenyon College”  

The following are poems:

William Blake: “The Tyger”; “The Garden of Love” 

Robert Browning: “My Last Duchess”

Emily Dickinson: “I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain”

Thomas Hardy: “The Ruined Maid”

A.E. Housman: “Terence, This is Stupid Stuff”; “When I Was One-and-Twenty”

Sandra Cisneros: “My Wicked Wicked Ways”

These are lists for reading. You can choose one to finish the paper. The requirements are in the files. If you do well, I have 4 papers later, and all will give to you.


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