In 1-2 pages do a close reading of this passage. How is language being used? Why? What kind of mood is the text creating? What kinds of connotations are being created? How does it relate to the larger argument of the text?
Identify major formal features of the passage, especially those that are characteristic of the genre.
· Who is the speaker: The narrative voice of the work, not to be confused with the author.
· What is the tone: The author’s attitude toward the text’s speaker, reader, and subject matter, as interpreted by the reader. Often described as a mood that pervades the experience of reading the text, it is created by the work’s vocabulary, syntax, use of figurative language, and rhyme.
· Look for patterns
· Locate exact repetitions (of the same word, same phrase, same image, etc.).
· Locate binaries. These lists of opposites will often point you in the direction of useful contrasts or tensions. You may see a contrast in a text between natural/unnatural, animal/human, extroverted/introverted, wealthy/poverty-stricken, etc. Uncovering binaries is not the end goal – you will want to examine their complexities rather than simply say a text contains a binary.
· Locate for any anomalies An anomaly is anything in the text that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected, anything that breaks a pattern or sticks out. This could be either formal (an anomaly in the text’s style, syntax, or diction) or related to content (an image that seems unexpected or unexplained, a radical shift in characterization, etc.)
· Go through line-by-line and define whether each statement is a statement of fact or if something is implied that is not explicitly stated by the speaker. If you find an implication, write out what you think the text implies. When you can make a reasonable inference from the implication, state that as well.
· Evaluate the passage’s use of figurative language and identify all of the figures of speech (expressive, nonliteral uses of language).
anaphora: The repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.
ambiguity: A word, statement, or situation with two or more possible meanings. anthropomorphism: A form of personification in which human qualities are attributed to anything inhuman, usually a god, animal, object, or concept.
diction: The choice and use of words or phrases.
ekphrasis: “Description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.
hyperbole: A figure of speech composed of a striking exaggeration.
imagery: Elements of a text that invoke any of the five senses to create a set of mental images. Specifically, using vivid or figurative language to represent ideas, objects, or actions. Useful adjectives to describe imagery are visual (sight), aural (sound), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), and tactile (touch).
invocation: An address to a deity or muse that often takes the form of a request for help in composing the poem at hand. Invocations can occur at the beginning of the poem or start of a new canto; they are considered conventions of the epic form.
metaphor: A comparison that is made directly (for example, John Keats’s “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” from “Ode on a Grecian Urn”) or less directly (for example, Shakespeare’s “marriage of two minds”), but in any case without pointing out a similarity by using words such as “like,” “as,” or “than” (which defines a subset of metaphor, the simile).
symbol: Something in the world of the senses, including an action, that reveals or is a sign for something else, often abstract or otherworldly. A rose, for example, has long been considered a symbol of love and affection.
After you have conducted a complete line-by-line reading of the text, you may begin to generate an interpretation of the formal features of the passage (part two, which we’ll discuss next time).
You do NOT need to use any outside source.
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