In this essay, you wi ll perform a sustained close reading of a n aspect of a single text.

Identify an intellectual problem “ an ambiguity, contradiction, tension, or site of possible
misunderstanding “ you wish to explore via analysis of a specific passage or series of
passages from the essay . Make a claim about how the writer ‘s choices of language and form
affect the essay’s argument.

Strive to dra w your reader’s attention to details of the essay that are more significant or
meaningful than they initially appear to be ; this process should lead you to generate new
interpretations about the essay as a whole. Yo ur goal is to recognize what the essay is
doing, identify precisely how the essay is crafted to accomplish that, and then think about
why the author might have made those particular choices . You are seeking to illuminate
your text for your readers, not simply to say that it is bad or good, likeable or unlikeable, or
right or wrong .

Essay projects of this kind generally accomplish one or more of the following aims:
extend readers’ understanding of a text (œthe text is about X, but it’s also about Y)


explain the purpose of an unusual, unexpected, or perplexing moment in the tex t (œthis
passage might seem out of place or unnecessary , but it accomplishes X)
correct a possible misreading (œwe may think it’s X, but actually it is Y)
demonstrate the relationship of parts to the whole (œwe can’t understand X until we
can see Y )

Identify a problem that is worth addressing, using a passage that will reward close
Formulate a claim that makes a strong argument and is not obvious.
Establish a motive for the essay in your introduction. Here you will answer the œSo
What? question, suggesting why your essay is important and interes ting to an
intelligent reader. Draw out the implications of the argument in your conclusion.
Structure the essay around your central claim, making sure that each paragraph is
adding an essent ial piece to your argument.
Use evidence persuasively, quoting from the text when necessary, summarizing or
paraphrasing accurately and responsibly when appropriate. Do not provide
evidence from other sources or make general assertions (e.g., claims about œhuman
Adhere to all relevant formatti ng guidelines described in the course syllabus .