Focusing on the content of English Paper Writing
While close reading, you pay attention not only to content but also for structures and patterns. In English papers, form reinforces content or form determines questions about content. In both cases, you should take an inductive approach.
You observe details such as a repeated feature or word, a sudden event, or even an objection, which helps you identify a question about the text that requires further analysis. Some of these details can be sued for building up your thesis and exploring it.
Major Types of English Papers
The success of most papers is based on close reading. While some assignment instructions specify expectations in detail, others indicate not more than just a page limit. Thus, you should always ask your professor if you have any questions. When it comes to English paper, there are some common guidelines to follow:
- A close reading of separate writings. Depending on the length of the work, you decide on the number of sources you need to consider. For instance, a sonnet requires more analysis compared to a novel. Even though there might find more than one interesting detail while reading, not all of them will be useful for addressing a focused argument about the text.
- A theory-based close reading. Occasionally, you might be asked to provide a focus for a poem, a play, or a novel through the critical theory. If abjection is the leading principle for your paper, you should pay more attention to the scenes in the novel that are related to the concept.
- A history-based close reading. In the historical course, you can use less self-consciously literary works in order to lead your analysis of a literary work. For instance, these can be newspapers or devotional manuals.
- A comparison of two writings. For the analysis, you will specify unexpected contrasts between obviously similar texts or indicate unexpected similarities between obviously dissimilar texts. This is where you should remember that not all of the similarities, differences, and transformations are relevant to an argument about the interrelation between the two texts. Your task is to choose those ones you can focus on.
- A response paper: This type of paper is a good way to practice your close reading skills without creating a totally new argument. Quite simply, you select a rich passage that contains analysis and close read it. Being a flexible genre, a response paper encourages you to raise a question about the text and start an investigation without supplying a solution.
- A research paper. Your professor will surely provide you with the details instructions for your research paper. In most cases, you have to consult additional sources apart from those in the assigned readings. While reading sources, make sure that they are peer-reviewed.
Taking the Action: Close Reading Towards a Thesis
Here are two examples of how to use close reading while formulating a thesis for your paper. Both of them can give you some basic knowledge of textual features close readers are interested in and kinds of questions they ask.
You can narrow your focus by focusing on a pattern of repetition that is probably vital for the book as a whole. By referring to a repeated scene, a repeated object, or a repeated word, the author encourages a thought-provoking thesis. Here’s one example of structuring the process of reading towards a thesis:
- Find a pattern of repetition. In a literary work, repeated words rarely mean exactly the same thing every time they are mentioned in the literary work.
- Create a list of passages in which the repeated word appears. Apart from listing page numbers, you also should highlight quotations.
- Figure out the different meanings of the repeated word and analyze their interrelations. Once you know the interrelations between different meanings, ask as many as possible questions about them.
- Specify “friction-rich” interrelations to explore in your thesis. In your paper, you shouldn’t focus on every single usage of the repeated word. Instead, you select those examples which stand in the opposition to the primary meaning of the repeated word.
If it comes to the poem, it might feel like a straightforward, ‘poetic’ description of what the speaker experiences. Here, you should figure out what else is behind the poem?
- Identify structures and developments in the text. Your start making sense of the poem by addressing the conventions and structures of the poetic genre. If there are any unexpected developments, you should analyze them in detail.
- Examine the origins of an unexpected development.
- Determine the importance of unexpected development in the literary work as a whole. This is the moment you start formulating a thesis.
- Reflect unexpected development in your thesis. Maintain all your observations in mind, because you will equip your thesis with the volatile power of poetic language affected by the unexpected development.
Practical Suggestions and Conventions
An English paper has certain conventions to follow. Here, you will find some guidelines which might help you to succeed in writing a quality paper:
- Minimize the plot summary. You should focus on selected scenes, briefly explaining them before starting the detailed analysis. Start from the most obvious piece of evidence and move slowly to the least obvious piece of evidence.
- Apply block quotations properly. For quoting, extract the pieces of information from the body of the paper and put them in an indented block quotation. A well-chosen block quotation will accompany a claim and provide a new, related emphasis or implication for your argument.
- Get your argument based on opinion. When it comes to close reading, you should avoid personal emotions and opinions, focusing more on structures and features in the text.
- Orientate on speakers, not authors: The English paper appeals to texts rather than authors. As first-person poems and narratives usually have a “speaker” or “narrator”, you shouldn’t confuse them with the author.
- Lead the narration in the present tense. The English paper refers to literary works as linguistic elements rather than as historical works. Thus, you analyze characters and events in the present tense, not in the past tense.
- Formulate citations in the MLA style. The English papers often use quotations extracted from the same text. In this case, you cite page numbers parenthetically.