american literature writing 02

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Your essay needs to include a separate Work Cited page.


Perform a 2 to 3-page (about 700 – 1000 words) close reading (analysis) of a passage of your choice from the following literary texts: Bessie Head’s Maru; Sefi Atta’s A bit of Difference; or Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti.

Reading link1: (Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti.) ONLY NEED page 9-35.

Reading Link 2: (Sefi Atta’s A bit of Difference)

The chosen passage can be no longer than two pages. Shorter passages help in constructing more focused theses. Your chosen passage cannot be those we’ve already analyzed in discussion posts (or in class).

Assignment Suggested Guidelines:

The points below are designed to help you with your close reading. You may consider the questions I raise in each point, but do not need to address them all. Use what is useful to you.

Point 1: Figurative Language and Patterns
How is descriptive language used? What symbols, metaphors (or other figurative language) or images are evoked, and what do they represent (are these emotional, visual or auditory, for example)? How might those metaphors/images be relevant to the text’s themes? You might also consider the role of repetition in the descriptions (if any): what words or phrases are repeated and why? What peculiar words stand out to you, and what do you think these accomplish?

Point 2: Character Development
Is this a significant moment for the character, and how does this textual moment signify that? How does this moment in the character’s life speak to the class’s overall themes? You may want to discuss how your selected excerpt of the text relates to a larger implication for a character, place or theme from the narrative.

Dos & Don’ts:

Further suggestions for good close reading practices:

• You must discuss how the formal elements exemplify your argument.
• While the majority of your evidence must come from the excerpt you’re considering, you CAN refer to quotes from other sections of the book (very sparingly), if it helps your close reading of the section you have selected.
• DO NOT mention or discuss readers or authors in your analysis. A close reading essay is focused solely on the text itself rather than what readers feel or what authors say. What does the text convey through the use of word choice, imagery, sound, figurative language, form, etc.?
• DO NOT feel that you need to address every formal element. Focus on those that best illustrate your assertions about the text.

General Advice: You should work to support a compelling thesis by citing and analyzing specific evidence from the text(s). Make your readings rigorous and explanatory (summary or description is not sufficient; don’t just say what happens in the text(s), explain why it happens in the ways it does, and how what happens helps to substantiate your thesis). Support your claims by quoting textual evidence and explaining how the quotes and their details substantiate your argument. Be sure that your paragraphs are structured in support of a substantive topic sentence that directly relates to your thesis.

Specific Advice (before you upload your essay):

1. Format: Use MLA format.
2. Title: Does your essay have an interesting title that identifies the text you are writing about and gives a sense of the argument you are making?
3. Thesis: Does your essay state the main claim (thesis) of your whole argument at the end of its introduction?
4. Paragraphs: Is your essay divided into clear paragraphs arranged in a logical sequence to defend the steps of your overall argument? Does each paragraph begin with a substantive, interpretive topic sentence (the paragraph’s point) that clearly relates to your thesis?
5. Evidence / Quotations
a) Are the claims in your essay (thesis, paragraphs’ topic sentences, etc.) supported by evidence, preferably in the form of quotations?
b) Have you introduced your quotation with a sentence that explains why you are quoting?
c) Have you analyzed the quotation (explained how the quotation and its details help support your argument)? Do not simply summarize the action, but explain why it happens and how what happens helps to supports your interpretation. Avoid “dropped quotes.”
d) Take care to copy your quotations exactly.
e) When quoting less than 3 lines of text, incorporate quoted words or phrases into your own prose. You should alter quoted lines to make the quotation and your prose grammatically compatible by inserting or substituting appropriate words in [brackets]. When citing your evidence, the page numbers only appear in (parentheses) before the final punctuation of the sentence.
6. Conclusion: Does your essay end with a compelling conclusion that does not simply reiterate the paper’s thesis but adds something more to the argument? What do we understand about the text after reading your essay?
7. Tense: When writing about literature, discuss what happens in the text in the present tense.

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