Why did we hate close reading so much?
Because we were so bad at it? Discovered in a 1998 e-mail thread:
Pardon me while I vent. I know I keep saying I love American Lit and especially my discussion, but today I couldn't stand it! It was like everything bad in that class summed up in fifty minutes. We did a close reading of a passage from Frederick Douglass. First of all, a close reading has to be the dumbest form of literary analysis ever to be invented by mankind. Gee, let's go through and analyize every sentence and every possibly meaning it could have. While we're imposing all of our views on the text, why don't we just put our names next to F. Douglass? And, hey, a nice-sounding answer must be a right answer. Come on, folks, can't we all not get along every once in a while?
The class is so touchy-feely; it's sick. And the TA and professor go right along with it. If Holden Caufield was in the class, he'd be smackin these people upside their heads with one of those frozen ducks….
And Lindsay's reply. How we ever ended up blogging, close-reading the Internet, I have no idea. At least, while dumb, we were amused.
To beat someone upside the head with a frozen duck would, in my opinion, be among the most unconventional ways I've ever heard of to make a point. But I like it.
I know what you mean about close readings. I asked about them once in sixth grade and was told to be quiet. Later, as my teachers got smarter as the grades went higher, i was told that it doesn't matter what the author intended, the work is independent. Whatever.
I say go for the frozen duck!