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Close Reading Resources

  • Close Reading Tips
  • Harvard's Writing Center Close Reading Guide

    The process of writing an essay usually begins with the close reading of a text. Of course, the writer's personal experience may occasionally come into the essay, and all essays depend on the writer's own observations and knowledge. But most essays, especially academic essays, begin with a close reading of some kind of text—a painting, a movie, an event—and usually with that of a written text. When you close read, you observe facts and details about the text. You may focus on a particular passage, or on the text as a whole. Your aim may be to notice all striking features of the text, including rhetorical features, structural elements, cultural references; or, your aim may be to notice only selected features of the text—for instance, oppositions and correspondences, or particular historical references. Either way, making these observations constitutes the first step in the process of close reading.

    The second step is interpreting your observations. What we're basically talking about here is inductive reasoning: moving from the observation of particular facts and details to a conclusion, or interpretation, based on those observations. And, as with inductive reasoning, close reading requires careful gathering of data (your observations) and careful thinking about what these data add up to.

  • How to Conduct a Close Reading of Literary Passage
  • Middle School ELA Curriculum Video: Close Reading of a Text: MLK “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
  • Steps for Close Reading or Explication de texte

    This article provides 12 steps to follow before one begins writing following a close reading of text.
  • The Art of Close Reading Part 1

    Reading for purpose, reading within disciplines, etc.
  • The Art of Close Reading Part II

     Avoiding impressionistic reading and writing, reading reflectively, thinking about reading while reading, engaging a text, etc.
  • The Art of Close Reading, Part III

     Includes how to read a textbook, newspaper, editorial, structural reading, how to read a sentence and a paragraph, etc.
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