EXPLICATION DE TEXTE Or, how to do a close reading of a literary passage The Game Plan Read the Text Look for Patterns Interpret the Text Read the Text Consider typing a copy of the text. Read text once for comprehension. Read text again. Look up unfamiliar words. Write a quick summary of content. Read text again. Out loud. React with your pen. Read text again. Read text again. Repeat ad nauseum, marking the poem as you go. e. e. cummings into the strenuous briefness Life: handorgans and April darkness, friends i charge laughing. Into the hair-thin tints of yellow dawn, into the women-coloured twilight i smilingly glide. I into the big vermilion departure swim, sayingly; (Do you think?) the i do, world is probably made of roses & hello: (of solongs and, ashes) Look for Patterns: zoom in! Examine diction (word choice) Identify and look up any unknown words. even if you think you know! Key words or phrases Strands (our favorite ) Contradictory words? Repeated words Does the meaning change? Connotation and puns Multiple meanings? More Looking for Patterns: take your time! Figurative Language Comparisons: metaphors and similes Imagery Symbols List implications and suggested meanings Form Structure: verse vs. prose Rhyme: what is the rhyme? How does the rhyme affect the mood? Rhythm: meter? syllables? Rhetorical tropes: alliteration; assonance; chiasmus; anaphora; parallelism; antitheses; irony Look for Patterns, continued. Examine the passage: What is the tone of the passage? Who is the speaker? Whose point of view is shared? Who is the speaker addressing, if anyone? Are there any allusions in the passage? Literary, biblical, historical, or otherwise Are there any paradoxes? Is anything conspicuous by its absence? Interpret the Text Ask “Why?” and “So what?” Why does the writer use this word instead of another similar word? Why does the author choose this form? This style? This tone? This metaphor? Why does the writer pair these two ideas? Why does she place these two in antithesis? So what if x represents y? How is that significant? What is the big idea of the poem? Write, scribble, think, rethink! Don’t give up! Do’s and don’ts when writing the paper Analyze don’t summarize It’s all about the text don’t guess the “right” answer don’t assume any and all interpretations will work Dig deeply don’t fill with generalizations (i.e., repeating the same idea in different words or citing massive quotes from “experts”) Your reaction is not the text don’t evaluate Questions? Remember: The Writing Center is here for you! MWF 1-5 p.m. T/R 12:30-5 p.m. M-R 7-11 p.m. SKYPE for nonresidential students: 7-9 p.m., M-R One-hour sessions available to all students in LIT 2090, Literary Analysis, and all students writing papers longer than 8 pages for 3000- or 4000-level courses. Just sign up for two 30-minute sessions backto-back.