Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tuesday October 6

Thanks for a great class today!

For next Tuesday, you should post a question that you plan to ask Nick Jans about his work. This can be about either Grizzly Maze or The Glacier Wolf. Additionally, you should bring your notebook to class and you should probably start working on your paper.

To that end, a few students asked me to share my powerpoint slides about effective close reading, so I'm pasting the text below.

Happy weekending,

Tips for effective Close Reading


1) don't be afraid to state the obvious.

2) the text will not speak for itself. If you don't explain your quotations and how they work, your reader won't understand your argument.


1) Thesis—What's my point? Before you return to the text, you should have a thesis in mind about the text as a whole.

2) Selection of text—Choose the passages you will quote and that exemplify your argument.

3) Paraphrase—Immediately following every quotation in your essay, you should provide as full a summary of the passage as possible. Remember, don't be afraid to state the obvious—even if the passage seems self-evident, tell your reader what you think it means.

4) Textual analysis—after you've established what the author or speaker is saying, you'll want to establish how he or she is saying it.

5) Reformulate your thesis. Just as a scientist concludes his or her experiment by reassessing the starting hypothesis, so too must you return to your original thesis and revise it in light of all you've discovered in the process of analyzing a specific passage. In a sentence or two, that is, you need to say what your close reading has proved—just how it has supported or developed your argument.


1) Context. Determine the context of the passage. Where does the passage or line appear in the text? How do the surrounding ideas or action affect our reading or the passage's meaning?

2) Vocabulary. Make sure you know what each word in the passage means. Are there allusions to historical events or figures? Are there concepts that need to be clarified? You should gloss any allusions or unfamiliar words or familiar words that are being used in an unfamiliar way.

3) General claims. Determine the basic thrust of the passage. That is, what is the speaker or author trying to say?


1) Figures of speech or rhetorical devices. How are syntax and/or sentence or paragraph structure manipulated, and what effects are thereby achieved? For film, you might think about how editing or transitions between images are constructed.

2) Diction (word choice) and allusion. Does the author use words drawn from other well-defined spheres of life (e.g. economics, legal discourse, Biblical contexts)? What sort of tone or value judgments are implied by the words chosen? Might more neutral terms have been chosen?

3) Form: Are there formal conventions you can identify? How do these forms impact the meaning?

A common misconception about literary analysis is that it's merely "subjective"—that anything goes, one opinion or impression being as good as any other. However, like any other rigorous field of inquiry, far from being merely subjective, the arguments of literary critics require evidence to make them convincing. Of course, as in other humanistic disciplines, there may be no final answers about the meaning of a text—but that doesn't mean that all interpretations are equally valid, compelling, or meaningful.


  1. Did he make any other books?

    Edith Grover J04

  2. What drives you to keep traveling Alaska all these years? Does it ever get boring?

    Stephen Bishop J03

  3. In reference to pg 93 in 'The Glacier Wolf': Why did you let that large steelhead go? Perhas I'm missing some big picture of the passage here, but I don't understand why you would set free what you went there for in the first place.

    Leah Gregg J03

  4. If Romeo stayed in the wild and never came back to town. Would you feel happy that he moved on? or would you be sad?

    Westin Dollmont J01

  5. What are your thoughts about timothy treadwell?
    -Marc Lapeyri J02

  6. Do you find it a comfort or a paradox to live on the border between the wild and civilization?

    Sarah Ryan J03

  7. “Here was a wild wolf on the edge of suburbia—a remarkable situation in itself, even by Alaska standards. But I had no way of knowing, over the next months and years, how strange this tale would turn.”
    —from “The Glacier Wolf,” p. 13

    I take it you don't think that it was wrong to encourage Romeo's behavior.

    LaTia Jackson, J03

  8. What (or who) got you interested into writing books? Were you ever planning on writing any or did you decide to do so after witnessing and being a part of so many remarkable events in nature?

    Chelsey Welch J03

  9. In the chapter Bearanoia from "The Glacier Wolf" you talked about your bear encounters. How did it feel to see so many bears, what went through your mind? Would you have done anything differently?

    Kelly Fernandez, JO4

  10. Do you believe Timothy Treadwell accomplished anything during his time with the bears or did he just attract more attention to them? Did he affect the grizzlys at all?

    ----------Dakota McLaughin

  11. Why did you name a collection of short stories "The Glacier Wolf"? You clearly write about Romeo, but he's not the main focus of the book. Wy is that?

    Chelsea Green J03

  12. Do you consider romeo a friend?
    michael caruso j02

  13. what did he thought of timothy? did he agree with him on going out and protecting the bears? or did he disagree with him?

    Florence Hadley j01

  14. why did he choose Alaska as the ace to base all of his writing on? When there are many other things out there to write about.

    Xuyen Nguyen. Jo4

  15. Where you born in Alaska, if not, what brought you here? What is keeping you here in Alaska?

    Nicole Lopez J03

  16. OOPS! Were...not where

    Nicole Lopez...again

  17. Treadwell, obviously, had an addictive personality. in your opinion, was he addicted to the attention he received by spending his summers in Katmai? An dwhy did he choose to teach about the "plight" of the Katmai bears in California, but did not spend time talking about them to Alaskan chikdren?

    Deema Ferguson J02

  18. In my class the question kept coming up about who conveyed Timothy Treadwell the worst.
    I believe that it was the man who made the movie, I felt like he shouldnt of said some of the things that he did. You stated the obvious..but I didnt think that you made fun of him the way that the Grizzly Man movie did.
    What do you think about Timothy Tredwell, and do you really like him, like you say you do in your writings?

  19. Where did you live in Juneau? Maybe you lived near where I did.

    My real question is how do you find time to write and obsrve in such a busy society?

    Richard Ringle JO2

  20. In the story "The Ugly Human" You, Nick Jans, said a half-hour drive from Hoonah is where you went fishing,do you by any chance know how to describe where you were at or the name of the creek? Was this place on the same road as the farmers road or was it the road before that at spirit Camp or at Game Creek?Also was this around the time you taught Hoonah high school English? I don't remember but was it only one school year you taught English in Hoonah?
    Jolene Smith

  21. What is your degree in? Did you find it harder to write short stories than a novel? How many stories did not make the "cut" into The Glacier Wolf .

    Callie Dietrich J03

  22. Are there any other place's or animals that you want to sort of make your progect apart from alaska?

    Steve Dyer JO3

  23. What compelled your personal interest in Treadwell? Did you find him interesting because you thought it is was disrespectful for him to live with the bears in Katmai, or do you perhaps feel connected to him because you personally have an interest towards wild animals, such as the Glacier Wolf?

    Sammy Becker

  24. Have you ever been for to view the grizzles? and i know seems simple but what really came to be of the wolf when is the last time you saw him and is his behavior still "friendly" the to local dogs?

    Malcomb Vrecenar

  25. Have you ever taught children for free like Treadwell, if so where and when? Did you enjoy it and what did you teach them?

    Angelia Normandia

  26. When you were writing The Glacier Wolf, what did you favor most? How many books have you written that were also based in alaska? Which one of your books did you like writing the most?

    Chelsea Durham J03

  27. I forgot we had to post our questions online until i got to class tuesday. I just wrote mine in my notes. BUT my question was...

    Do you ever think that because Timothy Treadwell's experience with bears became something that he was so drawn into that he ultimately did more harm than good, that you could get as lost in your passion as well?

    Hannah Massey JO4

  28. the humanities program that earl creates shows that it changed peoples lives drastically in a positive way. do you think these poor people dont seek education because they are scared? or is it just because they are lazy?
    chris day J01

  29. what real proof do they have that Romeo is alive? There have been rumors for years about Romeo being dead.