ENG115 Close Reading Assignment
Select one
assigned reading from the readings listed this period.
Choose a
paragraph or so from a prose selection or a stanza or so from a poem and craft
a close reading that explains what this passage reveals about the text’s
historical, literary, or cultural context.
You may
focus on explicating the passage’s theme or its form or a combination of both.
You may refer to other passages and/or key events in the text, but the focus of
your argument should draw evidence from the paragraph/stanza or so you select.
assist your argument about what your passage reveals about text’s historical,
literary, or cultural context, you may need to conduct research in
peer-reviewed journals or books. Please note, if you choose to do so, your
paper should consist of your own argument, and not a discussion of another
author’s argument.
helpful resources that contain peer-reviewed journals and books on literature,
please visit the CCAC Library homepage. I recommend using the “Databases A-Z”
link to search databases for journals and scholarly texts. You should also
consider contacting a reference librarian who can help you find sources at any
of the CCAC Campuses.
Peak your reader’s interest and focus your argument. You will probably need to
describe briefly your selected passage (situate it within the larger context of
the entire text). You may also consider focusing on some aspect of the
historical, literary, or cultural context that your passage will illuminate.
Thesis: Place your thesis in the
first paragraph.

§ Interest!
Make sure your reader understands (implicitly or explicitly) what makes this
argument worthwhile. What will the reader gain from reading your argument?
•  Body:
The paper’s support (approximately pages 2-4). Start each paragraph with a
clear topic sentence that connects the evidence with a
portion of the thesis.
•  Conclusion:
Can be brief—one paragraph. Wrap up your argument. You might consider talking about
other issues your argument raises—aspects your focus did not allow you cover,
but would be important for a longer paper. Finally, double check to make sure
your concluding remarks match your thesis statement. Have you shifted
directions? Come to a more specific set of conclusions? If so, revise your
thesis to reflect these changes.
Length: 4-5 pages, following the formatting guidelines
Your essay must be double-spaced
Typed in Times New Roman
12 point font
1 inch margins
 It must
adhere to all MLA format standards (including these).
You only need a heading on the essay, not a
title page.
Your essay is expected to be grammatically
The essay should have an MLA Works Cited page.
Grading on this assignment will
focus equally on grammar and content.
Adapted from assignments by
Kristin Jacobson, Stockton University.
Chs. 1 & 2 –
John Updike: “A
& P”
Jamaica Kincaid:
Henrik Ibsen: “A
Doll’s House”
Langston Hughes:
David Sedaris: “What
I Learned”
David Foster Wallace:
“Commencement Speech, Kenyon College”  
The following are poems:
William Blake: “The
Tyger”; “The Garden of Love” 
Robert Browning: “My
Last Duchess”
Emily Dickinson: “I
Felt a Funeral, In My Brain”
Thomas Hardy: “The
Ruined Maid”
A.E. Housman:
“Terence, This is Stupid Stuff”; “When I Was
Sandra Cisneros: “My
Wicked Wicked Ways”
These are lists for reading. You can choose one
to finish the paper. The requirements are in the files. If you do well, I have
4 papers later, and all will give to you.

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