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The essay itself, from first to final word but not including heading/cover page or Works Cited/References information, must be 800-1200 words long. Note that this is not a suggested length but a basic requirement. Proportional deductions may be added for not meeting the minimum or not editing down the essay itself.
You are explaining how this author makes this argument based on the words and examples used in this text. You are NOT discussing ethos/pathos/logos, writing style, or whether you or others might (dis)agree with the points being made.
This assignment is a close reading and
NOT a review,
NOT debate,
NOT a literary analysis, and
NOT a personal response to the article.
The essay should be fully formatted (double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman or Calibri font with indented paragraphs but no additional spacing between paragraphs) using either MLA or APA style.
Cite and refer to ONLY the selected article and list it in the Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page. Select ONE of the following articles for your close reading essay (the texts can also be found in one document if you scroll below; I have not changed the capitalization here from each publication’s style but MLA and APA do have different rules for capitalization of titles):
“How the UK Is Winning the Race against Climate Change” by Anne Shibata Casselman
“Could grasshoppers really replace beef?” by Pascal Kwesiga
“Fear of a Black Hobbit” by Adam Serwer
“Rez Life” by David Treuer
“Book publishers just spent 3 weeks in court arguing they have no idea what they’re doing” by Constance Grady
“Johnson & Johnson and a New War on Consumer Protection” by Casey Cep
“Studying tuberculosis in India, I saw the problem with cures” by Bharat Jayram Venkat
“Body positivity is fixated on beauty – here’s how to fix that” by Céline Leboeuf
Note: With the shorter articles you will need to be more strategic with the focus to make it specific enough. Meanwhile, with the longer articles you can identify parts to focus on less (for instance, not the anecdotes in “Rez Life” to instead focus on the show and stereotypes or not the other companies and legal system broadly in the Johnson & Johnston article to ensure that you don’t lose focus on this core example).
Suggested approach to this assignment:
Select an article that covers a topic about which you might want to do the research essay because those topics will be related to these articles (you will also be able to switch topics). Consider selecting an article that covers a topic or issue about which you know less in order to begin expanding your knowledge of different issues and the experiences of others.
Read at least your top two or three choices and complete an evidence list for one—or two of them, if you can’t quite decide.
Write an observational paragraph that draws directly on items from the evidence list and then begin to build a more focused tentative thesis for the article based on the foundation or direction of the observational paragraph (the tentative thesis is also a part of Homework 3). This thesis will likely not be your final thesis, but it should suggest how/why you have interpreted the author’s unique argument in this particular way or with this specific focus. Remember, you are explaining a complex argument rather than summarizing a text and your thesis should not work for any other articles about the same general topic.
Keep in mind that your close reading essay is likely SHORTER than the article and so you will not be able to cover everything. Instead, focus on an important aspect of the article (the one you could identify as the most compelling or central point); the patterns or contrasts evidence list might be particularly helpful in narrowing this down.
Consider using outlines to organize your analysis after completing an evidence list, observational paragraph, and initial thesis. The Useful Links section has some outline resources. Your outline should not just be a list (this can often result in a paper that also mostly lists) but should relate your sub-arguments to the examples, quotations, or other forms of support or elaboration that you can include. An alphanumeric outline will include such links.
As you edit your draft, make sure that you are using a formal analytical tone in your writing (even if the article itself includes some informal language–these articles are written for general audiences and can be conversational but your essay is an academic work). You can write “I” but should avoid the informal “you”, and you should use the full name the first time you refer to the author but then just use a last name. You might also edit your transitions between paragraphs to ensure that you are connecting sub-arguments to each other and/or back to the thesis explicitly and consistently.

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