A Moment in a Novel: Literary Analysis (Close Reading)

The Assignment:
Using Madame Bovary, you will examine one moment in the novel, providing a close reading of it and explaining how it resonates with meaning that would not be apparent to a casual reader.

Consider these points as you think about the assignment and prepare your proposal.

1. Formulate an Argument: Your thesis, as always, must be arguable. Make certain that you are specific in your language and that you have answered the always important SO WHAT? That solidifies an idea. A casual reading of this would not automatically demonstrate its importance.

2. Limit the Moment: You must use only a very short piece of the text-four to five lines should be more than enough. In some cases one paragraph is too much for an analysis of this length. Be as selective as you can in framing your moment.

3. Originality: Choose an unusual moment from the text, one that stood out as you read and kept your journal. You may not choose a moment that we have discussed at any length in class. Look for small, seemingly irrelevant scenes. Read them closely, looking for diction, figurative language-anything that helps to connect it to the larger themes of the novel. No two of you will be allowed to work with the same moment.

In your proposal, you must include the following:

a. Your complete moment typed out. No ellipses, please.
b. Explanation of how this moment looks to the casual reader.
c. Your exact thesis statement in its most refined form.
d. Any questions you have for me about the clarity of your thinking, the originality or arguability of your idea, etc.

Your final paper will be no more than two pages in length. Our goal is one proposal and two drafts.

(Courtesy of C. D'Agostino)