Keyword & Keystone Passage Papers

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Keyword & Keystone Passage Papers

For these first two writing exercises, you will take for the first paper a "keyword" and for the second a "keystone passage" (less than 100 words) from the novel being studied in class. 

Your main goal is to select and analyze a keyword and a keystone passage respectively as a means of interpreting the text's theme. Your task, then, is to provide a focused "close reading" of your selected word or passage and to draw inferences related to your overall reading of the text. Remember that isolating keywords or keystone passages is often merely a starting point for critical writing, and you may well need to cite other passages from the narrative to help you make your point. At the same time, remember that you cannot do everything in a two-page paper.

Process: In preparing the paper:

  1. Reproduce the keyword or keystone passage as part of your introductory paragraph. Your thesis should be targeting the significance of the word or passage for revealing meaning in the text of Jane Eyre.
  2. Since you may be using a different edition of the novel than the one I'm using, you need to provide accurate page citations in the your paper whenever you are quoting from the narrative, and to provide a separate Work(s) Cited page at the end. Also, make sure you transcribe all quotations accurately--I often find in my own writing that I begin with one point in mind when I quote a passage but discover two or three more during the process of transcription; don't underestimate this "clerical" task as part of your close reading strategy.
  3. Even though it is a short paper, you need to have a title that is indicative of the paper's thesis (a title such as "Keystone Passage in Jane Eyre" won't do).

Idea for this paper from Bernard Duyfhuizen
University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire

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