Tracking the occurrence of one word throughout a text and tracking the significance of that word, which is what Investigation 2 asks of us, differs from “traditional” close reading in that it asks us to analyze the meaning of one word as it relates to an entire text, rather than the meaning of a specific passage sentence or paragraph as it relates to not only the message of the text itself, but the overarching meaning or concepts present in the world or academia at large. Close reading of the sort required by Investigation 2 seems to be both more holistic and more granular than a traditional close reading because it asks us to examine the meaning of a word as it relates to the meaning of the entire text and how both meanings relate to other concepts. In traditional close reading, which typically concerns the analysis of a complete idea or concept rather than only a single word, the meaning of the whole text may be explored but the focus is more on the meaning of a particular sentence or paragraph. In investigation 2, an exploration the meaning of a sentence or paragraph is not enough—we are asked to examine the meaning of all the instances of a word within the text as it relates to the text as a whole.

As far as tools and technologies are concerned, a PDF file of the text in question is almost essential for Investigation 2 because it allows us to search for and analyze all _the instances of the word in question contained by the text in question. For a traditional close reading, a search of this type would not be useful because the focus is really on the meaning of a specific part of the text, and how many times the words present in that specific part of the text appear in the text at large would not necessarily inform our understanding of that part. The differences in tools and methodology between Investigation 2 and a traditional close reading are especially important because Investigation 2 doesn’t ask us to examine one specific instance of our “chosen word” or a specific “chosen idea” in our chosen text as a traditional close read would, it asks us to examine _all instances of that word in all of the text. This is an important delineation because in a traditional close read it is possible to disregard the meaning of other part of the text to explore the meaning of one part, but Investigation 2 requires a far more holistic approach.

This assignment reminds me of the seminal Lil’ Kim feminist anthem “How Many Licks?” which is of course based on the classic Tootsie Roll campaign centered around how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Investigation 2 seems to ask us something similar–to use modern day media tools to examine how many licks (or instances of a particular word) it takes to get to the center (or the central meaning) of not only that specific word, but the entire text in question.


Via Youtube, here is a clip of the aforementioned Lil’ Kim song.