Close Reading Exercise
Our second expository writing assignment focuses on your critical reading skills and your ability to identify,
explain and analyze the argument in a piece of scholarly writing. The article you are asked to analyze is a
very famous and influential piece of art history writing, Linda Nochlin¡¦s ¡§Why Have There Been No Great
Women Artists?¡¨ in Women, Art and Power (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), pp. 145.178.
Some things to consider, and suggestions for structuring your essay:
¡±„X Who wrote this piece, when, why, and for whom?
¡±„X What scholarly debate is the author initiating or engaging with?
¡±„X What view (argument or hypothesis) is the author putting forward?
¡±„X What evidence does the author marshal to support this view? How is the argument structured?
¡±„X What rhetorical methods or modes of persuasion does the author adopt (tone of voice, writing
style, type and structure of argument, other strategies)?
¡±„X Do you find the evidence, logic and rhetoric persuasive? Why or why not?
We will proceed with this assignment in two stages. Please read the assigned article and put down your
notes for the essay in point form following the questions listed above, then bring a copy of those notes
to hand in at the tutorial on Nov. 14 for an in-class exercise (please make sure you still retain a copy of
your notes to work with, as this one will be handed in to your TA).
A word of caution: Please remember that the primary aim here is to analyze the art historical text as a
piece of work in itself, not to weigh in on the issues it deals with (except at the end when you may wish to
bring up points that the author may not have considered, or flaws in reasoning). In this essay you will not
have your own hypothesis, thesis statement or argument: you need to identify, explain and discuss the
Please note: This assignment DOES NOT permit the use of secondary sources in writing your essay. The
only source for this essay is the text itself, which must be cited in the appropriate manner (the first time in
full and then using page numbers for all subsequent references to the text). However, if you feel you simply
cannot proceed without reference to other people¡¦s interpretations the sources for these MUST be cited in
the appropriate manner and listed in a bibliography at the end. Please note that [url removed, login to view] will detect
verbatim use of secondary sources; if you are found using such sources without acknowledgment this will
constitute plagiarism, a very serious academic offence.
It should be approximately 5 pages in length (approx. 1300.1500 words, not counting bibliography or
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