Close-Reading Care

As this class is ultimately premised on the value of a literary analysis of care via its representations, for your major assignment in the second unit, I will ask each of you to individually produce a 4-5 page (double-spaced) essay due March 29 that offers an interpretation of one (or two) of the texts we have examined together and supports that interpretation via textual evidence and explication (what we call “close reading” in literary studies). While you might choose to relate one of the fictional texts to one of the theoretical readings from Unit 1 or one of the complementary readings from this unit, the ultimate purpose of this assignment is to exemplify your ability to closely engage with a primary text and produce a cohesive and compelling interpretation of it, thus the majority of your energy should be devoted to “proving” your interpretation via detailed evidence from the text(s) itself. Likewise, if you choose to examine two texts in tandem (perhaps comparatively), such as a scene from the film of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with the corresponding selection from the novel, remember that though it is worth attending to possible differences in medium/genre of texts, your primary goal remains a close engagement with each text and its details to prove whatever interpretation you are arguing for. Finally, please keep in mind that your interpretation need not deal with an entire text, but might focus on a particular scene or portion of it as the key to this assignment is the depth rather than the breadth of your analytic engagement with a text. This assignment will count for 20% of your final grade.

The texts you might examine for this assignment include:

a) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (film and/or selection from novel)

b) Susan Nussbaum’s No One As Nasty (play)

c) Victoria Earle Matthews’ “Aunt Lindy” (short story)

d) Isabel Drysdale “The Negro Nurse” (short story)

e) selection from Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition (selection from novel)

f) Booker T. Washington “Training Colored Nurses at Tuskegee” (article)

g)  Mary Elizabeth Carnegie “The Path We Tread” (article)

h) Sarah Leavitt Tangles: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me (graphic novel)

i) Marion Cohen Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse

Additionally, I am open to discussing the potential of your examining alternative texts such as those referenced in class but not read together. If you are interested in that, please discuss that directly with me well in advance of the due date.

Assignment Sheet with more details: 

ENG 212W “Close-reading Care” Assignment Sheet