10H – 10 March 2014 – Intro to Task 5

Today we start Task 5. It is in your English 10H Poems & Packet, p 34-39.

Explication is a French analytical form that the US academy borrowed. It accounts for a very close reading of a text. There is an argument, as there always is in any paper, but it’s a very subtle argument.

You have several choices of which poem you’d like to explicate. But, please note that I would like you to REMOVE “Of Late” from your list of choices, and I would like you to ADD the sonnets we’ve discussed to your list of choices.

Some tricks of the trade with explications:

  • The thesis statement will identify the MAIN tools the poet uses (this is where your tools sheet will be most helpful) and the MAIN message the poet is offering. This will feel like a very mild thesis statement, and it is. That’s the nature of an explication, where the focus isn’t on the argument. It’s on the text.
  • Note that your thesis will identify only the BIG tools the poet is using. The BODY of your paper will identify and deal with all the rest of them. In my sample thesis (p 34) for “Funeral Blues” I only address elegy and almost-sonnet. But the poem itself is loaded with metaphor, simile, rhyme, synecdoche, etc.
  • Explications are organized quite differently than a typical essay. While it will begin with a thesis, the organization of the explication matches the organization of the text. It begins where the text begins and ends where the text ends. This also means your final sentences will rely on the final image of the poem.Your proposal is organized exactly as your explication will be, to help you with this new structure.
  • I have provided two sample explications with commentary about what’s effective in each. I cannot more strongly recommend that you take advantage of these. It is worth your time to read them and the comments I’ve provided if you want to write as few drafts as possible. Though for many of you, they won’t be as helpful until you’ve finished your proposal phase.

Your first proposal is due no later than March 24. Why so late? I will not be reading papers over spring break, and I hope you will not be writing them, either. The last call for this assignment is May 5.

(That gives us a month for the final task, which is fine, since it’s a “one and done”).


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