Close Reading Reflections

Due Tuesday July 25 by 7pm

During the campus experience, all students will have one close reading assignment, due in draft form to Grad TAs by Sunday afternoon, July 23 and in final form to faculty by Tuesday, July 25, posted at 2023 project site by 7pm. This close reading reflection (about 500 words or 2-3 pages single spaced) will summarize and analyze one of the featured texts from the main course website.

  • Here is a handout on some best practices for historical close reading reflections
  • And don’t forget to rely on the Methods Center for additional guidance about research, writing, citing, and editing
  • There are models for student close readings scattered throughout the web pages on our assigned texts, but and there’s an entire section devoted to them in Prof. Pinsker’s Student Hall of Fame, but here’s two useful models from previous  seminars:
  • Generally, the best way to approach organizing these essays is to remember Prof. Pinsker’s close reading mantra:  text, context, subtext.  Consider opening your essay with a snippet of text, briefly explain its context and then offer a thesis statement that explains and assesses subtext (or the author’s intended strategy).  Then your body paragraphs can follow that structure as well.  Take a paragraph or two to summarize the text, including defining key words and describing format.  Offer another paragraph or two on context (including both period context from the introductions and further readings and also perhaps some document context, where relevant, connecting to other earlier documents on the syllabus).  Then provide an analytical paragraph or two assessing subtext or the author’s strategy and whether or not he or she achieved his goals.  Close with a final paragraph, perhaps one that looks toward the future.
  • Students will have a series of required workshop and check in sessions to help guide their process.  The workshop are scheduled in the afternoons from 130pm to 245pm, in Denny 104.  The check in sessions occur at the High Street dorm: 
    • Wednesday (Week 1) (7pm to 9pm) OPTIONAL brainstorming with staff
    • Thursday (Week 1) (7pm to 9pm) brainstorming topics with your grad TA
    • Sunday (Week 2) (10am to noon), optional video review with tutors

All reflections should be posted at the 2023 project WordPress site with a selection of 2-3 images (properly credited and captioned) and with one short, embedded video or audio file (podcast) that attempts to bring to life a short snippet (20 to 60 seconds) from the assigned text.

Model video:

These assignments will be graded on the basis of prose quality, analysis, and multi-media effort.

  • Try to remember some general best practices, such as relying on PAST TENSE to describe both the historical figures and the statements from the texts to help situate them in their context.  Also, remember not to turn these close reading reflections into mini-research papers, but rely instead on your own reasoning, connections to other texts from our curriculum,  and,  where relevant, some of the further reading material.  When you use other texts or further reading materials, make sure to link to them.  Also, somewhere up front, please make sure to link the main text under consideration.  You do not need footnotes for these close readings but you may use them where needed.

Here are some other good examples of reflections that just employ voice files or podcasts to supplement the text analysis:

Late reflections will be penalized up to 5 points each day.