• We do this because it makes understanding and writing about the novel much easier.
o You will find that taking annotations and notes on the side will help save time when you have to write about the book at the end of the summer because you will be able to find passages more easily.
Types of annotation:
o In your pages install cross-references to similar events and themes as you notice them occurring.
• In addition to written annotations, use easily drawn symbols such as stars, asterisks, daggers, moons, arrows and eyes.
WHY DO WE ANNOTATE?
Annotation is a way of making the book your own. If you just blast through a book without taking the time to annotate, the book remains a distant object that always belongs to somebody else. Annotation forces you to slow down and think about what you are reading to the point that some of the book’s thought becomes your own thought. The result is that when you finish the last page, you own the book. The point is for you to make a careful enough diagnosis of what’s going on in each passage to allow you to create a sensible short label for that passage. This act strengthens your understanding of the passage and its relation to other passages you have already read. The act of writing a whole series of intelligent comments deepens your understanding of the book as a whole and begins to allow you to accumulate understanding and knowledge about the book as you read it.
When you finish the book, you will have to write about it and talk about it. Without annotation you often find yourself at the book’s ending with few clues as to how and why the ending takes the shape it takes—how the characters wound up in the position they arrive at; or why the book’s events point towards that conclusion—your understanding of the book remains impoverished and almost requires a second reading. When you read sophisticated literature, especially as a student, you aren’t looking for the big bang at the end of the story. Instead you are looking at a slowly developing process that takes the book’s characters through a series of particular experiences and developments. That process—the final meaning and shape of the novel—does not occur in the last pages or the last chapter of the novel; instead, the novel’s meaning accumulates slowly from its first page, sentence, and even word. [Set yourself the goal for instance of understanding everything on the book’s first page and in the first chapter by the time you finish reading; annotations will let you do that.] Your annotations let you chart that slow growth as you first pass through the book, saving you time and effort even while slowing down your initial reading.
Good annotations give you a road-map through the book. Imagine an explorer encountering complex terrain for the very first time. No good explorer would discover a mountain range, or a new river, or a previously unknown city without recording the discovery in her diaries and sketch maps; otherwise her exploration would be useless and the same explorer would have to take the same journey all over again to find the places that she had already explored. With annotations you give yourself such a map and you take important steps towards mastering and owning the new, previously unknown regions through which you have passed.
GOALS TO SET YOURSELF WHILE READING AND ANNOTATING
PUT TOGETHER A COHERENT PICTURE OF THE STORIES SO THAT YOU CAN ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSIONS AND WRITTEN RESPONSES
• The reading we give you is only as meaningful to you as you allow it to be.
ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF WHY THIS STORY IS BEING TOLD!
Have fun reading!
If you have questions, please contact anyone of us:
Kristin Nelson (Composition, Intermediate Composition) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosemary Delia (Literature) email@example.com
Katie Ferrell (Advanced English) firstname.lastname@example.org
Nina LaCour (Advanced English) email@example.com
Michael Ditmore (Advanced English) firstname.lastname@example.org