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Writing Assignment #3

Close Reading of The Woman Warrior


College writing requires students—no matter what the major or discipline—to work with sources—written texts (a newspaper article, a history book, a poem, novel, or a chart), or a visual or aural work of art (a painting or a jazz composition), etc. Generally, when we engage with texts, we do not want merely to quote texts and insert random quotations into our papers, but rather we want to think critically about sources. Good writing means thinking about what a passage of text is trying to say and explaining that meaning to the reader. It also means presenting your analysis of what the passage is saying or expressing. Perhaps you agree with part of the source and disagree with another.

Sources are the evidence an academic writer uses to develop a thesis, the main argument of the essay he or she is writing. Learning to write with sources and to discuss them critically is a complex skill, which takes time to develop, but it also is the main skill all college students need to work on because almost every assignment requires them to assess and criticize sources and texts. Part of this practice of engaging with texts is greatly enhanced bydoing CLOSE READINGS of literature.

For this assignment, you will be doing a close reading of one passage per story (that’s three passages and three close-reading analysis). Here are the instructions:


  • On your computer, create a new document with a two-column table. Above the table, type the MLA heading (name, teacher’s name, class, date).
  • Title the table CLOSE READING
  • Above the table, identify the work, and then write a two-to-three sentence summary of the entire text, using your own words.
  • Now, concentrate on the columns you have created.
  • In the left column, type a passage that stands out to you, caught your attention, caused you to pause and think, etc.
    • Write the passage (don’t forget to use quotation marks) and the page number and title of work (i.e., “No Name Woman,” etc.).
    • Focus on passages that catch your interest or remind you of some relevant experience of your own or that seems to connect with another reading from the course or somewhere else. Another approach is to choose a passage that you found consuming or that provoked a strong feeling from you, anger or disagreement or amusement or sadness.
  • In the right column, write an extended comment on your response to the passage. In other words, think through the arguments that your chosen passage is suggesting. Break down the passage, in your own words, so that it makes sense to you. Bring in your experiences, other texts, relevant historical or cultural implications. If a passage confused you, write about what confused you and why. Overall, try to work out what the passage is suggesting and how it relates to literature and culture.

Again, think golden lines on steroids 🙂

Length, Requirements, & Resources:

  1. You must contain at least one passage per Kingston story.
  2. Each analysis should be detailed and thoughtful and run about 150 words—give or take.
  3. Here is an template of a close reading journal Close Reading Journal Sample.docxActions
  4. Here is an example of an excellent former student’s Close Reading Assignment: Student Sample of Excellent Close Reading.docxActions
  5. DEJs must be typed using MLA formatting guidelines (proper heading, font size, margins, etc.) and uploaded to Canvas in a WORD (e.g. doc or docx file extension) document.
  6. Use correct grammar, full sentences, and regular conventions of academic writing. Edit and proofread your entries before you deem them complete.

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