Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Between the Lines

I've never had an opinion on close reading, or rather, some days I enjoy it and others I just want to stab myself in the eye with a fork. We talked about thinking "critically" in my Social Foundations I class today, how in order to improve our critical thinking, we must analyze, notice and take apart the text. As a lover of literature and a past AP English student, it's a love hate relationship with the close reading. Last year, we did it so much I started analyzing text on food labels and lyrics to every pop song on the radio. It takes an extreme amount of concentration and power, but it is the first step in analyzing an essay, text, lyric or piece of poetry. I've found that when I close read a passage, I'm reading between the lines: my own images, stories and experiences emerge from behind the words and instead of reading exactly what's on the page, I'm giving meaning to the text by interpreting it from my own perspective. It's something truly amazing, even if it's a true pain in the ass.

(Photo taken on 14th St.)

(Photo taken on Waverly and Greene St.)

I had my own "between the lines" moment today when I was trying to find my Writing I class; what I'm trying to say is: what you see is not always what you get. I swear, I passed the building at least four or five times trying to find the right entrance before I realized the classroom is in the basement of a Starbucks that is connected to one of the NYU, okay NYU? Anyway, I had another "between the lines" moment when I tried to help my roommate decipher a syllabus for her "Writing the Essay" class. The teacher wrote, and I quote: "Draw a map of your essay and show how the words and phrases you highlighted and underlined are related. Now imagine you are riding the subway with a friend, and that you are getting off at the next stop. You want to tell your friend about the essay you chose, but your time is limited, and the essay has many moving parts that you want to share with your friend." All I could think was, "Nice metaphor? But I have absolutely no idea what the hell you are talking about." To add on to that, her instructions for writing portfolios contradicts itself more than once: "You will assemble three portfolios, two for each of the three essays you will write, and one for the final essay and previous two essays." I promise I did my best to close read the syllabus, but nothing was making sense. Is it just me, or is it a bad idea for a teacher who doesn't know how to write, teach a class on "writing the essay"?

When we returned to the dorms, I collapsed on my bed and decided not to start my close reading homework until now. Instead, I decorated my wall with more pictures and proceeded to take a considerable amount of selfies on my phone to send to my boyfriend. I'll end my entry by posing a philosophical, yet platitudinous (cliché) question: What was your "between the lines" moment?

(Photos taken in NYU University Hall)

Song on Repeat: "Early In The Morning, I'll Come Calling" by James Vincent McMorrow