English 562
Eighteenth-Century Literature

First Paper Assignment. Close Reading

Due Friday, February 3, at my office, Tompkins 270

4-6 pages, double-spaced typed/printed text.Standard margins (top & bottom 1" margins; right and left 1.25" margins). If you have any other format questions, ask me.

Choose any of the poems from the start of the syllabus through Dryden's "Mackflecknoe."  Select no more than one stanza or verse paragraph whose lines you judge most interesting and relevant to understanding the whole poem, and do a close reading of those selected lines. Consider the nuances of language, prosody, allusions, metaphors, metre, rhyme, anything that you feel is most relevant to discuss and necessary to interpret to read your chosen lines in relation to the whole poem well. This assignment calls upon you to practice your skills in close- reading, but you may bring in other opinions from the reserve list or beyond as long as you footnote any sources,explicate the passage or poem sufficiently in your own terms, and keep other opinions subordinate to your own.You do not, however, have to consult any text beyond your chosen paragraph or part of a poem. You will no doubt make sense of the selection you choose in relation to the whole work from which it comes, but stay as focused as possible on the details of language within, not beyond, your chosen selection. Even though close-reading skills are sometimes associated with New Critical attitudes, you are not obliged to find some ideal of harmony or unity between your passage as microcosm and the whole text, or author?s oeuvre, as macrocosm. You may wish to work out a passage that instead reveals some interesting disruption of structure, complication of apparent theme or moral, or contradiction between apparent authorial intent and textual meaning as you understand it.I

If you pick a passage or poem that we have discussed in some detail in class you are obliged to bring out something personal and original in your reading. Feel free to discuss your developing ideas with me.

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