Teaching through Close Reading: Poetry and Fiction

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm (EST) Enter Classroom Enter Forum


Lucinda MacKethan
Professor of English, Emerita, North Carolina State University
National Humanities Center Fellow

About the Seminar

The close reading of challenging primary documents is central to the Common Core State Standards, yet many teachers may be unfamiliar with close reading as an instructional practice. What is it? How does it facilitate the reading and understanding of diverse kinds of texts? How is it done? This two-part seminar will address those questions by analyzing poetry and fiction, historical documents, and what the Standards call “informational texts,” including Common Core exemplar texts. Among other topics it will examine how context, purpose, and point of view shape meaning; how an author structures a text and develops arguments; and how figurative language, strategic silences or gaps, and similar tools convey meaning.

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Assigned Readings

  1. Poetry
    1. "What Soft ― Cherubic Creatures" by Emily Dickinson.
    2. "There Was a Child Went Forth" by Walt Whitman.
    3. "Demeter's Prayer to Hades" by Rita Dove.
    4. "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes. Hear Langston Hughes discuss and recite the poem.
    5. "The Oven Bird" by Robert Frost.
  2. Fiction (excerpts)
    1. from The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    2. from "The Birth-mark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    3. from Their Eyes Are Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston.
    4. from "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck.
    5. from "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor. Hear Flannery O'Connor read the story.

Seminar Recording