You may be asked to undertake a “close reading” of a text as an exercise in itself; more often, a close reading forms the basis of a thorough understanding of a piece of writing, and will place you in a good position to be able to write well about it in an essay or assignment. The questions below relate specifically to close readings of secondary scholarship (background reading such as articles in scholarly journals); answering them will help you to be sure you thoroughly understand the piece in question.
1) Background information on the author: what is the author’s profession or discipline? Is the author engaged in a theoretical debate within his/her field? Is this work part of a body of writing on the subject by this author?
2) What is the main point of the text?
3) What is the author’s assertion, position, or thesis?
4) What are the author’s assumptions? This may include the author’s theoretical affiliations.
5) How does the author argue his/her position?
6) What type of evidence does the author use to support the argument?
7) Does the evidence suit the argument?
8) What is your emotional response to the work?
9) Are you convinced? Explain.
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