In literary criticism, close reading is the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of a text. A close reading emphasizes the single and the particular over the general, effected by close attention to individual words, the syntax, the order in which the sentences unfold ideas, as well as formal structures. A truly attentive close reading of a two-hundred-word poem might be thousands of words long without exhausting the possibilities for observation and insight.
Literary close reading and commentaries have extensive precedent in the exegesis of religious texts, and more broadly, hermeneutics of ancient works. For example, Pazand, a genre of middle Persian literature, refers to the Zend (literally: 'commentary'/'translation') texts that offer explanation and close reading of the Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. The scriptural commentaries of the Talmud offer a commonly cited early predecessor to close reading. In Islamic studies, the close reading of the Quran has flourished and produced an immense corpus. But the closest religious analogy to contemporary literary close reading, and the principal historical connection with its birth, is the rise of the higher criticism, and the evolution of textual criticism of the Bible in Germany in the late eighteenth century.
In the practice of literary studies, the technique of close reading emerged in 1920s Britain in the work of I. A. Richards, his student William Empson, and the poet T.S. Eliot, all of whom sought to replace an "impressionistic" view of literature then dominant with what Richards called a "practical criticism" focused on language and form. American New Critics in the 1930s and 1940s anchored their views in similar fashion, and promoted close reading as a means of understanding that the autonomy of the work (often a poem) mattered more than anything else, including authorial intention, the cultural contexts of reception, and most broadly, ideology. For these critics, including Cleanth Brooks, William K. Wimsatt, John Crowe Ransom, and Allen Tate, only close reading, because of its attentiveness to the nuances and interrelation of language and form, could address the work in its complex unity. Their influence on American literary criticism and English departments held sway for several decades, and even after New Criticism faded from prominence in American universities in the waning years of the Cold War, close reading remained a fundamental, almost naturalized, skill amongst literary critics. By the turn of the 21st century, efforts to historicize New Critical aesthetics and its apolitical pretense prompted scholars, especially in departments of English, to debate the fate of close reading, asking about its status as a critical practice.
In two of its 2010 bulletins, the American Departments of English (ADE) featured a cluster of articles that attempted to take stock of what the 21st century held for close reading. The articles were motivated, as all of the scholars remarked, by the changes they had observed in the work of their colleagues and students—as well as in contemporary culture—that made them think again about why close reading mattered to the study of literature. Jonathan Culler noted that because the discipline had taken close reading for granted, it had disappeared from discussions of the goals of literary criticism. For Culler, as for Jane Gallop, that absence needed remedying, and therefore signaled an opportunity for departments of English to renew—in order to capitalize on—one of the more distinctive traits of studying literature. If New Criticism and its isolationist stance had given away to the politicization of literary studies, and if technological developments were changing the very ways in which people read, Culler and Gallop emphasized that the signature of close reading, meticulous attention to the workings of language and form, still had value. N. Katherine Hayles and John Guillory, meanwhile, each interested in the impact of digital media on the ways people read, argued that close reading skills were not only translatable to the digital context, but could also exist productively alongside the hyper-reading that web interfaces and links had generated.
While the New Criticism popularized close reading in universities, it tended to emphasize its principles and offer extended examples rather than prescribe specific methods and practices. This tendency towards what Vincent B. Leitch calls "canonical statements" appeared in essays and book-length studies, from John Crowe Ransom's "The New Criticism" (1949) and Allen Tate's "A Note on Autotelism" (1949), to Cleanth Brooks' The Well Wrought Urn (1947), Rene Wellek and Austin Warren's Theory of Literature (1949), and W.K. Wimsatt's The Verbal Icon (1954). The first ten chapters of The Well Wrought Urn thus focus individually on poems across British literary history (John Donne, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W.B. Yeats, and T.S. Eliot) before concluding with "The Heresy of Paraphrase," in which Brooks abstracts the premises on which his analyses rest. Meanwhile, when Wellek and Warren describe their preference for an "intrinsic" study of literature in Theory of Literature, they refer to examples of elements they claim are crucial to a work—from euphony, rhythm, and meter to image, metaphor, and myth—and cite concrete examples of these drawn from literary history, but do not indicate steps by which readers might translate such thinking into their own analyses. Wimsatt takes a mixed approach in The Verbal Icon, combining theoretical chapters ("The Intentional Fallacy," "The Affective Fallacy") with those that discuss concerns he feels are necessary to the study of poetry ("The Concrete Universal," "Symbol and Metaphor," "The Substantive Level," "One Relation of Rhyme to Reason," "When is Variation 'Elegant'?","Verbal Style: Logical and Counterlogical"), but he too leaves it to his readers to imagine how they might deploy these views.
As Culler notes in his essay for the 2010 bulletin of the American Departments of English, this tendency not to make statements of method meant that most students of the New Critics learned by example. Thus in the New Critical classroom, "the charismatic pedagogue could pose a question you had not thought of about relations between form and meaning or point to a textual difficulty that had escaped your attention." More than fifty years later, this "closeness of close reading" remains vital to the work of more recent thinkers whose thinking has contributed to the radical changes in literary studies and displaced New Criticism. Of these he cites his contemporary, the deconstructionist Barbara Johnson, who stands out for her claim that the value of close reading lies in its capacity for taking seriously what does not immediately make sense. Well aware of the stark differences between New Criticism and deconstruction, Culler here brings the two together, suggesting that their shared investments indicate an understanding of close reading worth maintaining.
In French criticism, close reading is similar to explication de texte, the tradition of textual interpretation in literary study, as proposed by Gustave Lanson. As an analytical technique, close reading compares and contrasts the concept of distant reading, the technique for “understanding literature, not by studying particular texts, but by aggregating and analyzing massive amounts of data”, as described, by Kathryn Schulz, in “What is Distant Reading?”, an article about the literary scholar Franco Moretti.
Brooks's discussion of John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" embodies his use of close reading. In "Keats's Sylvan Historian," he finds the controversy over the poem's famous lines misplaced, and insists instead that "the ambiguity" of "Beauty is truth, truth beauty -- that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" is best understood as an expression of the urn itself (151-153). The poem pursues this ambiguity, he writes, in lines that describe the urn on the one hand as a "bride of quietness" and a "foster-child of silence" and on the other, a "sylvan historian" (155). In this way the poem describes the urn in paradoxical terms much as the urn utters a paradoxical line. Brooks then pursues this logic by considering how "sylvan historian" might not only describe the urn as a kind of historian but also the kind of history the urn is said to tell. Further, if he claims that this history is uncertain because it's not clear "what men or gods" feature in it, he continues that line of thinking as he proceeds through the ode's stanzas: when he emphasizes that the "unheard melodies" of the figures depicted on the urn's face are "sweeter than any audible music," that "action goes on though the actors are motionless," that "the maiden, always to be kissed, never actually kissed," that the "boughs...cannot shed their leaves," and when he claims that this "ironic undercurrent" only increases over the course of the poem, to culminate in those infamous lines (156-159, 164). From following the poem in this way, Brooks arrives at the assertion that his interpretation is "derived from the context of the "Ode" itself" (164).
Brooks's close reading is typical of the New Critical investment in the textual object alone. Yet scholars have also found close reading productive for more politically and socially invested work, thereby refusing the New Critical belief in literary transcendence while seizing on the care with which it treated textuality. In The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979), best known as one of the earliest statements of feminist literary criticism, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar deployed close reading to make a case for the distinctiveness of the female literary imagination. The sixteen chapters of Madwoman thus pursue their arguments—that women writers expressed their anxiety about authorship, their rage over being constrained to docile femininity, their canny encoding of their patriarchal critique—with the attention to language, imagery, and form Gilbert and Gubar had been trained to wield as graduate students in the late 1960s. New Critical echoes are thus evident in the individual chapters devoted to close readings of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte's The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette, but so is the political innovation. Reviewers—academic and mainstream—recognized this trait, describing the two scholars as “gnostic heretics who claim to have found the secret code that unlocks the mysteries in old texts” (Schreiber 11) and their interpretations as a "skillful joint peeling away of the layers" of women's writing" (129).
In an even more extreme example, Jacques Derrida in Ulysses Gramophone devotes more than eighty pages to the word "yes" in James Joyce's novel Ulysses, an effort which J. Hillis Miller describes as a "hyperbolic, extravagant... explosion" of the technique of close reading.
The push for more close-reading instruction in primary and secondary education is partially due to increased feedback from college professors in the early-mid 2000s that students were arriving in university classrooms with few comprehension skills. The increased demand for students to acquire concrete skills in high school that they would need in transitioning to higher education and to adult life culminated in the creation of the Common Core State Standards in 2009. Since then, there has been a push for English Language Arts teachers, especially at the secondary level, to help students develop close-reading strategies. Several of the English Language Arts (ELA) Standards for Reading Literature require students to be able to cite direct textual evidence, and to analyze words in context. For example, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.4 asks students to "Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone)."
Today, as most states have adopted the Common Core Standards, there is an increasing number of resources designed to help teachers instruct and implement close-reading strategies in their classrooms. In 2012, Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst published Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading, which established six "signposts" that alert readers to significant moments in a work of literature and encourage students to read closely.
Another resource, developed by Beth Burke (NBCT) for the Tampa Bay Times NIE (Newspaper in Education), presents the steps involved in close reading and how to scaffold the strategies for students. She recommends using the Gradual Release Model in instruction, beginning by modeling a close reading in front of the class, then having students work on the strategy in groups before attempting it alone.
Additional ways to support students in close-reading instruction include providing graphic organizers that help them group their ideas with textual evidence. Many other educational resources and guides to close reading exist in order to help students of all levels (see A Glossary of New Testament Narrative Criticism with Illustrations), and in particular, close reading poetry (see, for example, The Close Reading of Poetry: A Practical Introduction and Guide to Explication.)
Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.The word comes from the Ancient Greek ἀνάλυσις (análusis, "a breaking up", from ana- "up, throughout" and lusis "a loosening").As a formal concept, the method has variously been ascribed to Alhazen, René Descartes (Discourse on the Method), and Galileo Galilei. It has also been ascribed to Isaac Newton, in the form of a practical method of physical discovery (which he did not name).Cleanth Brooks
Cleanth Brooks ( KLEE-anth; October 16, 1906 – May 10, 1994) was an American literary critic and professor. He is best known for his contributions to New Criticism in the mid-20th century and for revolutionizing the teaching of poetry in American higher education. His best-known works, The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry (1947) and Modern Poetry and the Tradition (1939), argue for the centrality of ambiguity and paradox as a way of understanding poetry. With his writing, Brooks helped to formulate formalist criticism, emphasizing "the interior life of a poem" (Leitch 2001) and codifying the principles of close reading.
Brooks was also the preeminent critic of Southern literature, writing classic texts on William Faulkner, and co-founder of the influential journal The Southern Review (Leitch 2001) with Robert Penn Warren.Commentary (philology)
In philology, a commentary is a line-by-line or even word-by-word explication usually attached to an edition of a text in the same or an accompanying volume. It may draw on methodologies of close reading and literary criticism, but its primary purpose is to elucidate the language of the text and the specific culture that produced it, both of which may be foreign to the reader. Such a commentary usually takes the form of footnotes, endnotes, or separate text cross-referenced by line, paragraph or page.
Means of providing commentary on the language of the text include notes on textual criticism, syntax and semantics, and the analysis of rhetoric, literary tropes, and style. The aim is to remove, lessen or point out linguistic obstacles to reading and understanding the text.
If a text is historical, or is produced within a culture assumed to be of limited familiarity to a reader, a broader range of issues may require elucidation. These include, but are by no means limited to, biographical data pertaining to the author, historical events, customs and laws, technical terminology and facts of daily life, religious beliefs and philosophical perspectives, literary allusions, geographical settings, and cross-references to related passages in the same work, other works by the author, or sources used by the author.Some commentaries from Classical Antiquity or the Middle Ages (more strictly referred to as scholia) are a valuable source of information otherwise unknown, including references to works that are now lost. Jerome provides a list of several commentaries that were in use during his days as a student in the 350s A.D. One of the most used of the ancient scholia today is that of Servius on Vergil’s Aeneid, written in the 4th century.
The production of commentaries began to flourish in the 16th century as part of the humanist project to recover the texts of antiquity, with its related boom in publishing. In the modern era, a commentary differs from an annotated edition aimed at students or the casual reader in that it attempts to address an exhaustive range of scholarly questions, many of which may be of concern or interest primarily to specialists. The commentator may take a position on variant readings of the text or on a point of scholarly dispute, but arguments are usually succinct, a paragraph or less than a page in length.Explication
The idea and practice of explicate or explication is rooted in the verb to explicate, which concerns the process of "unfolding" and of "making clear" the meaning of things, so as to make the implicit explicit. The expression of "explication" is used in both analytic philosophy and literary theory.GNU Lesser General Public License
The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) is a free-software license published by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The license allows developers and companies to use and integrate a software component released under the LGPL into their own (even proprietary) software without being required by the terms of a strong copyleft license to release the source code of their own components. However, any developer who modifies an LGPL-covered component is required to make their modified version available under the same LGPL license. For proprietary software, code under the LGPL is usually used in the form of a shared library, so that there is a clear separation between the proprietary and LGPL components. The LGPL is primarily used for software libraries, although it is also used by some stand-alone applications.
The LGPL was developed as a compromise between the strong copyleft of the GNU General Public License (GPL) and more permissive licenses such as the BSD licenses and the MIT License. The word "Lesser" in the title shows that the LGPL does not guarantee the end user's complete freedom in the use of software; it only guarantees the freedom of modification for components licensed under the LGPL, but not for any proprietary components.I. A. Richards
Ivor Armstrong Richards (26 February 1893 – 7 September 1979), known as I. A. Richards, was an English educator, literary critic, and rhetorician whose work contributed to the foundations of the New Criticism, a formalist movement in literary theory, which emphasized the close reading of a literary text, especially poetry, in an effort to discover how a work of literature functions as a self-contained, self-referential æsthetic object.
Richards' intellectual contributions to the establishment of the literary methodology of the New Criticism are presented in the books The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism (1923), by C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards, Principles of Literary Criticism (1926), Practical Criticism (1929), and The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936).Kohathites
The Kohathites were one of the three main divisions among the Levites in Biblical times, the other two being the Gershonites and the Merarites. The Bible claims that the Kohathites were all descended from the eponymous Kohath, a son of Levi, although some biblical scholars regard this as a postdictional metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the clan to others in the Israelite confederation. Although the Aaronids are described as part of the Kohathites, the text strongly differentiates between the Aaronids and the other Kohathites.The Bible ascribes a specific religious function to the Kohathites, namely care of the vessels and objects within the sanctuary - the Ark of the Covenant, Menorah, Table of Shewbread, etc. This differentiation of religious activity between the Kohathites and other Levites, even the Aaronids, is found only in the Priestly Code, and not in passages that textual scholars attribute to other authors.According to the Book of Joshua, rather than possessing a continuous territory, the Kohathites possessed several cities scattered throughout the geographic region in the Kingdom of Israel south of the Jezreel Valley, and in the region north of the Galilee, the latter being an extremely large distance apart from the former:
in the territory of Ephraim: Shechem, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth-horon
in the western part of the territory of Manasseh: Taanach, Gat Rimon
in the territory of Dan: Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath-rimmonThe narrative in Joshua argues that the territory was taken by the Levites right after Joshua's conquest of Canaan, but some scholars believe this cannot be correct, as it is contradicted not only by archaeological evidence, but also by narratives in the Book of Judges, Books of Samuel, and Books of Kings; Gezer, for example, is portrayed in the narrative of the Book of Kings as only coming into the possession of the Levites during the reign of Solomon, and archaeological excavation of the site has shown that shortly prior to the Babylonian captivity it was still the site of a large temple to the Canaanite deity Astarte.
However, a close reading of the book of Judges reveals that the Canaanite peoples conquered by the invading Israelite tribes were often not completely subdued. The disputed territory is sometimes assigned to an individual or tribe before any conquest was undertaken (e.g., Caleb's inheritance in Joshua 14). A major theme of the book of Judges is that the disorder portrayed in the book is a direct consequence of Israel lacking the will to finish the job of conquest, allowing their enemies to dwell in their midst.
While the conclusion of many modern biblical scholars is that the whole system of Levite cities, in the Torah and deuteronomic history, is an attempt to explain the fact that important early sanctuaries existed at these locations, and thus were places where members of the priesthood naturally came to reside in large numbers, this view is not universally accepted. Some scholars believe that the priesthood was originally open to any tribe, but gradually became seen as a distinct tribe to themselves - the Levites.Labyrinth (novel)
Labyrinth is an archaeological mystery English-language novel written by Kate Mosse set both in the Middle Ages and present-day France. It was published in 2005.
It divides into two main storylines that follow two protagonists, Alaïs (from the year 1209) and Alice (in the year 2005). The two stories occur in a shared geography and intertwine. The novel relies heavily on historical events such as the massacre at Béziers and the Crusade against the Cathars in Occitania, now the South of France, from around 1200. The text itself features many Occitan and French quotes. Ultimately the story becomes a quest for the Holy Grail.
In the 2006 British Book Awards, Labyrinth was awarded Best Read of the Year. According to The Sunday Times, it was the second best selling book in the United Kingdom in 2006, after The Da Vinci Code, selling about 865,400 copies in paperback. The Guardian ranked it the number one bestseller for 2006. An extract from the novel was used in the Scottish Qualifications Authority's 2009 Standard Grade English General close reading paper.Letter to Fanny McCullough
In December 1862, President of the United States Abraham Lincoln sent a brief consoling letter to Fanny McCullough, the daughter of lieutenant colonel William McCullough, following his death in the American Civil War.Literary theory
Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of intellectual history, moral philosophy, social prophecy, and other interdisciplinary themes which are of relevance to the way humans interpret meaning. In the humanities in modern academia, the latter style of scholarship is an outgrowth of critical theory and is often called simply "theory".
As a consequence, the word "theory" has become an umbrella term for a variety of scholarly approaches to reading texts. Many of these approaches are informed by various strands of Continental philosophy and of sociology.National Register of Historic Places listings in Gilliam County, Oregon
This list presents the full set of buildings, structures, objects, sites, or districts designated on the National Register of Historic Places in Gilliam County, Oregon, and offers brief descriptive information about each of them. The National Register recognizes places of national, state, or local historic significance across the United States. Out of over 90,000 National Register sites nationwide, Oregon is home to over 2,000, and 3 of those are found in Gilliam County.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 18, 2019.National Register of Historic Places listings in Harney County, Oregon
This list presents the full set of buildings, structures, objects, sites, or districts designated on the National Register of Historic Places in Harney County, Oregon, and offers brief descriptive information about each of them. The National Register recognizes places of national, state, or local historic significance across the United States. Out of over 90,000 National Register sites nationwide, Oregon is home to over 2,000, and 7 of those are found in Harney County.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 18, 2019.National Register of Historic Places listings in Morrow County, Oregon
This list presents the full set of buildings, structures, objects, sites, or districts designated on the National Register of Historic Places in Morrow County, Oregon, and offers brief descriptive information about each of them. The National Register recognizes places of national, state, or local historic significance across the United States. Out of over 90,000 National Register sites nationwide, Oregon is home to over 2,000, and 5 of those are found in Morrow County.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 18, 2019.National Register of Historic Places listings in Sherman County, Oregon
This list presents the full set of buildings, structures, objects, sites, or districts designated on the National Register of Historic Places in Sherman County, Oregon, and offers brief descriptive information about each of them. The National Register recognizes places of national, state, or local historic significance across the United States. Out of over 90,000 National Register sites nationwide, Oregon is home to over 2,000, and 5 of those are found in Sherman County.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 18, 2019.National Register of Historic Places listings in Wheeler County, Oregon
This list presents the full set of buildings, structures, objects, sites, or districts designated on the National Register of Historic Places in Wheeler County, Oregon, and offers brief descriptive information about each of them. The National Register recognizes places of national, state, or local historic significance across the United States. Out of over 90,000 National Register sites nationwide, Oregon is home to over 2,000, and 2 of those are found in Wheeler County.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 18, 2019.Neo-Ricardianism
The neo-Ricardian school is an economic school
that derives from the close reading and interpretation of David Ricardo by Piero Sraffa, and from Sraffa's critique of neo-classical economics as presented in his The Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities, and further developed by the neo-Ricardians in the course of the Cambridge capital controversy. It particularly disputes neo-classical theory of income distribution.
Prominent neo-Ricardians are usually held to include Pierangelo Garegnani, Krishna Bharadwaj, Luigi Pasinetti, Joan Robinson, John Eatwell, Fernando Vianello, Murray Milgate, Ian Steedman, Heinz D. Kurz, Neri Salvadori, Bertram Schefold, Fabio Petri, Massimo Pivetti, Franklin Serrano, Fabio Ravagnani, Roberto Ciccone, Sergio Parrinello, Alessandro Roncaglia, Maurice Dobb, Gilbert Abraham-Frois, Theodore Mariolis and Giorgio Gilibert.
The school partially overlaps with post-Keynesian and neo-Marxian economics.New Criticism
New Criticism was a formalist movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century. It emphasized close reading, particularly of poetry, to discover how a work of literature functioned as a self-contained, self-referential aesthetic object. The movement derived its name from John Crowe Ransom's 1941 book The New Criticism...
The work of Cambridge scholar I. A. Richards, especially his Practical Criticism and The Meaning of Meaning, which offered what was claimed to be an empirical scientific approach, were important to the development of New Critical methodology. Also very influential were the critical essays of T. S. Eliot, such as "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and "Hamlet and His Problems", in which Eliot developed his notion of the "objective correlative". Eliot's evaluative judgments, such as his condemnation of Milton and Dryden, his liking for the so-called metaphysical poets and his insistence that poetry must be impersonal, greatly influenced the formation of the New Critical canon.The Well Wrought Urn
The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry is a 1947 collection of essays by Cleanth Brooks. It is considered a seminal text in the New Critical school of literary criticism. The title contains an allusion to the fourth stanza of John Donne's poem, "The Canonization", which is the primary subject of the first chapter of the book.