Last week in class we discussed close reading as a methodology scholars in literary studies use to interpret and produce knowledge about literature. The Observer assignment for our second blogging cycle asks you to forget reading and start counting. Here’s what I mean:
- Choose either Odds Against Tomorrow or Only Revolutions to use to complete this assignment. Your choice may largely depend on what week you are assigned to be an Observer. For example, since those in Group 3 are Observers before we start reading Only Revolutions, Group 3 may be much more likely to choose Odds Against Tomorrow to use for this assignment. But the choice is up to you.
- Choose at least 3 different “textured” words from your novel of choice. A “textured” word is a word that is evocative, that connects to many different ideas/themes in the novel, and/or that seems important in some way to the novel. It might be a word that’s repeated a lot; or a word whose meaning shifts throughout the novel; or a word that seems to relate to one (or more) of the novel’s major themes; or a word that is used significantly differently in the novel than it normally is in everyday life; or a word that has a highly symbolic meaning at some point(s) in the novel; etc.
- Use the Search Inside the Book feature on Amazon.com (Odds Against Tomorrow here; Only Revolutions here**) to identify all occurrences of these words and their various stems (stems refers to plural forms and other slight variations of the word) in the novel.
- Report your findings on our course blog by Friday night at 10 pm. Your report should include the following information about each word:
- How often that word occurs.
- One other potentially interesting observation about how and where that word appears in the novel. This could be anything: an observation about the contexts in which the word appears, about how it might be clustered with other words, about whether or not it’s generally associated with a particular character, about some other general pattern that emerges from its use across the novel, about what themes might come into focus through further study of the word’s appearances, about where the word _doesn’t _appear, etc.
- Don’t forget, as is outlined in the blogging guidelines under “Observers,” to include a brief reflection on the data and/or the process of collecting it.
**If you choose Only Revolutions, you may also want to check out Katherine Hayles’s “Only Revolutions Commentary” site for another way to search the full text of the novel.