I don’t understand this History question and need help to study.
We close-read situations and people every moment of our lives; we have become so adept at observing tone of voice, word choice, body language, sentence structure, metaphor, etc. and coming to a reasoned interpretation of a situation or event that close-reading becomes an almost unconscious, and constant, activity. In this course I want to become consciously aware of the process, be curious about it, and to put it to use. Remember, you have to look first before you can see. Start with the facts (i.e. specific words and images), begin to draw inferences from them, and use them eventually to build an interpretation or to raise and respond to an interpretive question. Then look again.
In interpreting fictional and non-fictional texts, close-reading should become a conscious, and constant, activity. You will need to close-read particular passages in order to mine the passage for cues and clues that can lead you to a reasoned and well-supported analysis of the passage and of the relationship of the passage to the rest of the work. A close-reading is NEITHER PLOT SUMMARY NOR PARAPHRASE. Therefore, avoid simply repeating, rephrasing, summarizing, or vaguely generalizing about the passage. Instead look at how the language used to describe the event, character, scene, example, etc. creates and manipulates our understanding. One of the ways to begin a close-reading is to ask questions of the passage from the general to the specific. For example, why is this passage included in the story/essay? How do the diction, sentence structure, tone, imagery, metaphors shape your reading of this passage and contribute to your interpretation of the story/essay as a whole?
In addition look for patterns in the language. For example, there may be patterns of sounds (soft “R” sounds or hard “B” sounds), or grammatical patterns (specific kinds of verbs, for example), or recurrent images (darkness, light, nature, etc.). Another approach to close-reading is to look not only what is there but also at what is left out in the passage. Since the narrative gaps can be just as significant as the narrative itself it is crucial that you “read” these gaps and not try to fill them with your own assumptions and narratives.
Support your analyses with evidence from the text. So, again, make sure that you can point to particular details to support your readings.
General guidelines for doing close-readings:
1. Read the passage several times (aloud, at least once) and briefly identify some of the major issues, conflicts, ideas, and ideologies reflected in the passage. You might begin by saying, “The passage is about . . .” Notice, also, how your own ideological lenses impact the interpretations you make.
2. Identify the context in which the passage appears and analyze its significance. In other words, where exactly does the passage appear in the piece (in the beginning, after an important scene, at the end, etc.) and why is its placement important? Identify the rhetorical situation, that is, who is the speaker and who the listener and what is the context of this relationship? What is being asked of us as readers?
3. Analyze the implications of the language in the passage. Ask yourself to what effect the writer chose those particular words or that style in that particular excerpt? Use the dictionary! Even familiar words might have interesting etymologies or multiple meanings that the writer is using. Explore the subtler connotations of the words, allusions, expressions used. What kinds of metaphors and other figures of speech does the passage employ? Is that passage similar to or different from others, if so, how? How does the style and words choice tie into larger issues in the story or essay? This is a very key step in close-reading because you’re moving from describing the facts to inferring meanings.
4. Draw some comparisons and conclusions about the passage in terms of its relevance to the rest of the piece: how is it specifically related to other parts? What does it reveal about a character or an issue that you see earlier or later in the piece? Offer a brief example. Why is that particular passage (as compared to others) important?
5. Where do you hear resonances between this passage/piece and other essays or narratives we have read (or discussions we have had) in this course?