Close Reading Essay
Write a 4- to 5-page essay that advances an interpretation of any one of the primary texts we have read or watched in Units 1 and 2. Your essay should demonstrate your close reading skills by paying careful attention to the text’s narrative and/or visual elements, and by explaining how particular choices made by its creator(s) contribute to its larger meaning (CR 6-10). Your essay should demonstrate that you have mastered the academic practice of “strategic reading,” as explained by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon in Understanding Rhetoric (CR 27-52). Your interpretation should be expressed in an argument that proceeds through “explication” by “revealing or uncovering ideas” that are “only suggested, perhaps indirectly, by the text” (CR 36). In the body paragraphs of your essay, your discussion of the text should demonstrate a firm grasp of the techniques of analysis (describing one thing in detail and explaining its variously significant elements) and synthesis (identifying several similar elements across the text that reveal larger thematic patterns).
Your Close Reading Essay must be 1,250 to 1,750 words and composed in MLA format. You should include a Work Cited page listing the text you have chosen, but do not use any outside sources for this assignment. If you choose to write about Sorry to Bother You, you are encouraged to use screenshots of the film where appropriate, but those are not included in the page count. Unlike the Literacy Narrative in Unit 1, the Close Reading Essay should be written exclusively in edited academic English. All paragraphs should have strong topic sentences and clearly written internal transitions (EW 33-47). Your sentences should be edited for precision, conciseness, variation, and clarity (EW 262-296).
An “A” paper:
• Is submitted on time and complete;
• Advances a clearly stated argument that proceeds through explication and develops in
complexity over the full course of the essay, using topic sentences and transitions effectively to
signal the introduction of new ideas;
• Analyzes and synthesizes evidence from the text, using both direct quotation and paraphrase
while explaining in detail at each step how that evidence supports and complicates the
• Identifies the text’s genre and mode, explaining how its generic elements contribute to its
• Demonstrates a mastery of edited academic English, using proper spelling and punctuation with
precision, conciseness, variation, and clarity.
Close Reading Essay