Rich Text Passage Analysis [RTPA]
The goal of this assignment is to focus your attention on a specific passage that is important, but not immediately accessible, and to provide new and deeper understanding of it. This assignment will be challenging by definition because you have to grapple with something puzzling, without one right answer or one right way to proceed, but it is an invaluable approach.
- PASSAGE CHOICE: Pick an especially rich passage, one that you sense contains a lot of significance that is not readily visible. Look for passages that seem confusing, contradictory, uncharacteristic, symbolic . Choose one in which the author makes substantial use of various literary devices.
- Quote the passage exactly at the top of the paper .
- Include the page number and citation information.
- Use MLA format.
- ANNOTATION: Mies van der Rohe, a famous architect, once said, “God is in the details.” You can’t appreciate a building or the conceptions behind it without looking at its individual parts. The same sentiment applies to the craft of literature.
- Read the passage carefully.
- Annotate the text thoroughly.
- ANALYSIS: Since “to analyze” means to break down, to examine individual parts as if under a microscope, don’t just generalize about one overarching theme. You have picked a rich, complex passage, and thus you should raise questions and speculate on potential answers, aiming to provoke and stretch both your thought and mind.
- Instead of an introduction, open with ONLY A THESIS STATEMENT.
- Follow your thesis with body paragraphs (2-3) about the meaning(s) of the passage you have selected. Each body paragraph should open with an analytical assertion.
- Discuss the passage, supporting your assertions. Be sure to develop/analyze the possibilities so you aren’t just listing them. Incorporate close reading analysis, focusing on the language and devices in the passage. Develop your ideas. Transition between thoughts.
- Integrate quoted phrases from the passage wherever possible, noting the author’s chosen words.
- SYNTHESIS: The significance of any part will expand as you connect it to elements outside of itself, rather than just looking at it in isolation.
- Write a concluding paragraph in which you consider how the passage relates to the text as a whole. What does it reveal about the characters, themes, style, etc.?
BEFORE SUBMISSION: Look over your piece of writing. See where you can revise for clarity and effectiveness of expression. Check for grammatical, usage, and mechanical errors. Give your piece a title that reflects your thoughts expressed in the analysis.
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