Mythology Close Reading Assignments | Essay Help Services

• 2.5-3 pages. Four pages is the absolute maximum for this assignment. We will stop
reading at the end of the fourth page.
• You will write two of these assignments. Each is worth 175 points.
• You must complete both of these assignments to pass the course.
What is close-reading?
Close-reading is a method of literary analysis that privileges the specific over the general with
the ultimate goal of illuminating or complicating a larger interpretation of a given text. Closereading may also result in a new interpretation altogether. A focus on a single passage, line, or
even word might very well reveal that an established or widely accepted interpretation of a work
or larger passage should be reconsidered. On the other hand, the same approach might lend
important support to a larger interpretation. In the latter case, this is most satisfying when it does
so with your interpretation of the work, as it enables you to point to specific places in the text
which support your general ideas.
Why is close-reading important to the study of myths?
Close-reading is an exceptionally useful way to balance traditional approaches to myths, many of
which focus largely on the general as opposed to the specific. An example of one of these
approaches to myth is Joseph Campbell’s theory that all hero myths follow the same basic
structure—that of the “monomyth.” To put it another way, despite the essentially infinite
possible combinations of actions, settings, and characters which may appear in these stories,
Campbell says that all hero myths are at their core essentially the same. Close-reading allows one
to challenge such general approaches to myths in important ways. Maybe a story does seem to
follow Campbell’s ideas, but with some important exceptions, for example, that need to be
discussed. Alternatively, perhaps the details of the story are just too significant to take a backseat
to the monomyth. Moreover, close-reading may show that a story does not follow Campbell’s
ideas at all. Close-reading allows one to evaluate both theories of myths and the myths
themselves in a sophisticated way by sifting through the details of the story, itself.
How to write a close-reading assignment for this class:
• Pick a section of a text we are reading in class that you find especially interesting or
challenging. Though it is possible to do a close-reading of an entire work, for our
purposes you should choose something you can adequately examine in 2.5-3 pages. This
means you should choose a paragraph or paragraphs, a stanza or stanzas, a series of lines,
etc. to write about (i.e. not an entire Tablet from Gilgamesh or Book from the Odyssey).
• Copy/type the section of the text you want to discuss in your assignment at the top your
first page. Be sure to cite the passage in a way that makes sense; example: Proserpina, ll.
45-55. This portion of the assignment does not count towards your page count. This part
should be single-spaced.
• In a section labelled “Context,” briefly explain how the passage you have chosen fits in
with the rest of the text. At most, this should be 3 or 4 sentences. Be as concise as you
can, but make sure that you adequately situate your discussion for the benefit of your
reader. This should be double-spaced.
• Under a new heading—you can call it “Discussion”—analyze the passage you have
chosen. This should all be double-spaced. Begin with an examination of just the passage
you selected to analyze. What, specifically, does that section mean, and why is that
meaning important? Then, relate the passage and your analysis of it to the work as a
whole. Why is your passage important to the entire story? Your goal here is to interpret
the passage in a way that sheds light on the story a whole or on an important aspect of it.
If you have selected a speech, what does this speech tell the reader about the character
who is speaking it? Does it show he/she has developed in any way? Does it contradict
something that he/she did or say elsewhere? If it is a description, what does it suggest
about whatever is being described? What is the text trying to tell its reader about this
place? Why is that important to the rest of the text? Are there similar descriptions
elsewhere that might connect to that one? Have you chosen a part of a story you think is
especially difficult to make sense of? What are its possible meanings? What one do you
think is the best, and how does that affect the meaning of the text as a whole? Maybe it is
a narration of a fight scene or an exchange of goods or services. Why is it important?
How it is essential to the story? Etc.
Some tips:
o Success in these assignments depends on what you choose to analyze, so choose
your passage wisely. If something seems mundane or straightforward to you, then
it might not make for the best analysis.
o Think about what you want to write on well in advance of the due date.
o Run ideas by me if you are unsure how to proceed.
o Do not summarize the text in your analysis. Focus only on your examination of
the text.
o Listen in class. We will discuss problematic passages often. These are fair game
for these assignments.
o If you want to reference other parts of the text that’s fine, but don’t bother quoting
them unless it is absolutely necessary. A simple reference to another part of the
story is all you should typically need.
o A good way to consider whether a passage is a good fit for this assignment is to
imagine what the story would be like without the passage you have in mind. How
would the passage’s absence change the story? The answer to that question should
give you a hint about the section’s purpose and importance.
o Limit yourself to the text. Do not bring in any outside research. We want to read
your thoughts, not someone else’s.
o If you want to include the ideas of a scholar we have discussed in class in your assignment you need to contact me first.

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