Due dates:
#1 draft of essay due in hard copy for peer review at the beginning of class on Th 9/29
#2 final draft due in hard copy (stapled) at the beginning of class on T 10/4

Length & Format: 750-1000 words (Times New Roman 12 pt font; one inch margins; name, date, class single-spaced in the top left corner of the body (not the header) of the page)

25% of Final Grade

ENG 3050 Sample Close Reading

Title Template: [Critical Term 1] and [Critical Term 2] in [Author’s First Name Last Name’s] [“Title of Poem”]

For your close reading essay assignment, you should chose one assigned poem from Week 2, 3, or 4 except for John Donne’s “The Flea” A close reading essay needs to operate with two critical terms that you find and/or develop: one that refers what the poem says and another that refers to a key point of your interpretation of the poem. Your interpretation of the poem should bear obvious relationship to what the poem says, but it will add complexity or nuance to that meaning, identify ambiguity, or exist in conflict with what the poem says.

Your close reading essay will need to begin with a purposeful summary of your chosen poem, using and providing examples for your first critical term and anticipating your second critical term; then, your close reading essay will need to develop its second, interpretive critical term.  (In total, this may take one or two paragraphs.)

The rest of your essay will demonstrate close reading skills by providing at least two (but no more than four) well-developed examples from the poem that illustrate your second, interpretative critical term. You will introduce these examples, summarize them within the context of the poem in order to show their relationship to your first critical term, and then use technically accurate terminology to explain to your reader how the poem’s use of diction, imagery, meter, rhyme, metaphor or other similar formal concept illustrates your second critical term. You will need to walk your reader through your logical reasoning in your interpretation of your selected examples. (Each example should entail one or two well-developed paragraphs.)

You conclude your close reading assignment by summarizing your argument and considering the larger implications of the function of your second critical term for interpretations/readings of the poem.

Review: A close reading essay offers a reasonable, insightful, and unique interpretation of a poem and illustrates the validity of that interpretation by studying specific passages and describing as well as analyzing their use of formal, literary techniques.

Grading Criteria:

  • Does the essay accurately and purposefully summarize the poem?
  • Does the essay use well-conceived critical key terms and use them consistently?
  • Is the interpretation of the poem supportable and supported with examples from the poem?
  • Does the essay introduce passages, identify their formal features, and explicate how they illustrate the interpretation offered in the introduction to the essay?
  • Does the essay follow the conventions of writing about literary texts in formal, advanced academic contexts?
  • Does the essay conform to conventions of style, grammar, and citation?