Annotation Inc. (etc.)

Because we will be working with web-based materials this semester and one of the tools we will be using to discuss, collaborate, and organize our thinking about what we are reading is an annotation tool called Most of you registered for in class on Tuesday. If you have not, to get started, you need to

  • Create an Account: The Quick Start Guide will guide you through the steps. All you will need is an email address and a user nam
  • Open and add an extension (if you are using Chrome browser, which is the optimal browser for the application) or make a bookmark
  • Annotate: navigate to web pages and activate the Chrome extension through the icon in the right side of your browser window

You will be annotating as part of the group “Open Space of Democracy.” I have sent you an invitation to the page and the URL will be the space where we can gather documents and annotate them as members of a common group.

Do you have questions about the annotation tool The tutorial Annotating with Groups should answer most of your questions.

A quick note on reading and making notes on a text

The activity of reading is a complex process. Making meaning involves the formation of and testing of inferences about the internal relations of the work and about the external relations between the work and the world. And much of the activity of reading remains tacit; that is, we do it for the most part without being conscious of what we are doing.

Reading as a Writer most often involves putting the process of reading to work in writing. The process can include a number of strategies: comprehension (summary), analysis (recognition and use of features of text), interpretation (construction of meaning from a text and recognize ways of reading), and evaluation (identifying and analyzing assumptions and judgments). Consider the following heuristic to help you think about the things you (can) do as a reader of texts:

Summary: a reader formulates a brief restatement that omits concrete details, in the case of a narrative, in order to isolate the significant actions and formal divisions in the work. We summarize a text so that we have a sufficient understanding of the character(s) and action(s) of the work.

e.g. (exempli gratia or for example) here is a schematic summary of Hart Crane’s The Bridge (a seventy-six page poem): The poem begins with an introductory proem and then is divided into eight parts. In the poem, a young man awakens at dawn, gazes out over the harbour and city, and then spends the day wandering in the metropolis, gradually becoming involved in its corruption, and, after agonizing disillusionment and drunkenness—a kind of spiritual descent into Hades—comes, in the final part of the poem, to an apparently illuminating vision of order or transcendence.

Marginalia: the reader is focused on her response to the work—what springs to mind and into body in the course of your reading. Its purpose is to register your feelings and thoughts as you read to examine, deepen and perhaps change them. We respond to texts in the mode of marginalia when we draw on our own emotions, life experience and intellectual competencies

Annotation: the reader brings to the work factual information from an external source. Its purpose is to clarify apparent ambiguities, obscurities and references. We annotate—or at least we should—when a term or reference in the text slows us down, confuses us or presents an interpretive problem

Explication: the reader proceeds word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase, line-by-line, with the intent of describing the work’s formal features—the lexical, grammatical, syntactic and sequential choices of an author. Its purpose is to generate awareness of the formal features of a work so as to be more accountable to how the work is put together.

We explicate to make explicit the immediate indices of our attention—the lexical, grammatical, syntactic choices of an author; we analyze, relying on all the previous modes—marginalia, annotation and explication—to communicate to your reader something interesting and significant about the passage(s) under discussion

Analysis: the reader isolates one or more elements of the work for closer attention. We use analysis to separate the work into parts, or into cause and effect relations, in order to probe different relations, to generate questions, and more fully understand the whole.

Interpretation: the reader sets forth one or more meanings of a work according to a programmatic set of assumptions or ideological beliefs. We interpret in order to make a persuasive case for a meaning of the work.


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