Thesis statement: In The Killing Joke, Batman’s statement that “Maybe it was you, all the time” when referring to the joker becoming insane showcases that our society put the blame on people with mental illness and views them as weak. This can be seen in the way the joker is treated and referred to throughout the graphic novel.
In close reading essays, we reflect not just on what a text says, but on how a text says (or shows) something. The idea is to look at smaller pieces of the text and see how they connect to the whole. To this end, you will be writing a close reading essay on The Killing Joke in which you present an argument/interpretation about some aspect of the text and then support your conclusions with analysis.
Your close reading essay should:
● Include a thesis statement that speaks to the larger themes and ideas presented in the book
● Explore a passage of your choice from the text that supports your thesis statement. If you choose
to look at a detail that appears in multiple places (as mentioned below), you should still keep your
scope down to a few panels that you can look at closely.
● Pay close attention to details from the text (size/shape of panels, color schemes, shading, text
bubbles, metaphors, art style, character depictions, perspective/point of view, close-ups/extreme
close-ups, etc.) and explain their significance in a way that connects back to your thesis.
● AVOID giving evaluative comments about the text — you’re not reflecting on whether or not you
enjoyed the text or you agree with it. Rather, you are interpreting and analyzing it for the reader.
*Double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. Font
*Minimum 3 pages (not counting Works Cited page)
*A works cited page that includes only the MLA citation for The Killing Joke
*Keep in mind that a close reading is meant to focus in on only the text in question. Outside sources should not be used/relied upon for this assignment.
Beginning your Close Reading:
Formulate a thesis statement — your thesis should seek to explore a big idea or theme that resonates throughout the text. The panels you choose to analyze will then become the “evidence” for this thesis.
Identify the pieces of the text that you want to analyze. Keep your focus narrow. Either look at a small section of the text (a few panels or a page) or look at a single repeating detail (an image, piece of text, or stylistic choice that occurs a number of times in different places). If you are choosing to look at a specific detail, then scan back through the text and make sure that you have noticed all the instances in which it takes place. Reread the sections you are working with at least four or five times, so you don’t miss anything. It may help to list the details on a separate page so you can see clearly what you are working with. (Adapted from “Close Reading” by the Odegaard Writing & Research Center)
Write your analysis. Remember that all claims should be backed up by evidence from the text, and then analyzed (explain how those details are significant to your overall claim/thesis).
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