Close reading is an essential task that demonstrates key skills; it is used throughout the Language and Literature course. Specifically, it is used mostly in Part 4 (Detailed Study of Literature) where students complete an IOC (Individual Oral Commentary) on a text studied.
1. Read the passage/extract
2. Reread it
3. Annotate for key areas
4. Plan a response
5. Write your response
6. Edit your response
Understanding – show the teacher/examiners that you understand what is happening in the passage and how the passage connects to the wider text.
Analyse – pull apart the text to show how it works, how meaning is created and the author’s intentions.
Evaluate – discuss and comment on the effectiveness of the author’s choices and the tools (devices, themes, symbols and conventions) they have used
Key areas to search for in a passage
1. Diction (word use): Look for strange or unusual words, descriptive words or words that you don’t know the meaning of. Look for neologisms (new words) and words which have more than one meaning to them.
2. Literary devices: there is a wealth of literary devices that authors can use when writing. Think carefully about why an author may use one and what affect these have on readers.
3. Structure (sentence and paragraph): Look for variations in sentence structure and type, look for odd sentence organisation or sentences that are grammatically incorrect. Look for the way in which paragraphs are organized, how do paragraphs end and begin?
4. Themes, symbols and motifs: Look for ideas, symbols or images that have been repeated in the text and are evident in the passage. Think carefully about why the author might use these.
5. Conventions (genre and narrative): Look at how the author fits or challenges the genre they are writing in. Look at how the narrative is told to us. Look at where the passage comes from in the wider text.