emag at home 4 – Close Reading

Ideas to help you write effectively and with confidence about an extract

The emagazine archive has a wide selection of ‘close readings’ from teachers, academics and students. You can use these to help you develop your own ability to write about an extract effectively and with confidence.

What Makes a Good Close Reading Response?

  1. Read this extract from Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle and think about what you would choose to write about.
  2. Now read Barbara Bleiman’s close reading, paying attention to what she chose to write about and how (just below the extract).
  3. Now read her commentary on her own work. If you can, highlight the points you find particularly helpful or which you have not thought about before.

Putting It Into Practice

The following articles all include both an extract for analysis (or point you in the direction of the extract) and one reader’s close reading response.

  1. Choose one of the articles. Read the text extract and write your own 500-word close reading response. Try to keep in mind the things you found effective in Barbara’s close reading or illuminating in her commentary.
  2. Now read the response published in emagazine. How do the two responses compare? Could each be equally valid in terms of what they discuss and how they discuss it? Is there anything you could learn from the published close reading? (For example, to establish the big picture before discussing the detail, to choose four or five big points to make throughout your close reading.)

Daphne Du Maurier: Rebecca

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility

Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Lady Audley’s Secret

Charles Dickens: Great Expectations

Entering the Close Reading Competition

  • Draw on everything you have learned and practised here to enter the emag Close Reading Competition when it opens on 1st April!