Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Lisa Eckert

Abstract

ABSTRACT

CLOSE READING AND CRITICAL THEORY

By

Kimberly L. Rosewall

Close reading is the very foundation of literary studies, yet this interpretive practice can be very difficult, especially for undergraduate students. The purpose of this study was to explore my own action research and examine the ways in which the teaching of critical theory affected both my teaching of close reading practices, and my students’ ability to conduct close readings of selected passages of texts in a general education English classroom. I also examined how the teaching of critical theory enriched my students’ understanding of the world, their lives, and society. Collected data for this action research study included the student participants’ pre-and post-annotations, which were analyzed using open and axial coding. Five student participants were selected, and these pre- and post-annotations were compared and analyzed to examine the ways in which critical theory affected the students’ close reading practices. The close reading pre-annotations revealed that prior to lessons in critical theory, the student participants focused largely on language and structure. Close reading post-annotations revealed an increased focus on the social world, along with frequent consideration of connotative definitions of words. Metacognitive analysis of this data revealed that my teaching of critical theory greatly improved my students’ ability to proficiently close read a selected portion of a text. With the introduction of critical theory, my students began to engage with books as discourse, not merely as words on a page. They also gained valuable critical vocabulary to better understand and explain our society.

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