Unveiling Layers: A Masterclass in Close Reading with Colin and Anuradha

By Vaishali Ghosh Basu, Educator

On Saturday, the first day of the Neev Literature Festival, a masterclass on close reading led by the dynamic duo, Colin Kelman and Anuradha Ruhil Barua, left participants spellbound during a 45-minute session that transcended the ordinary. Both distinguished DP teachers in the IB curricula and members of the Neev Book Award jury, they skillfully navigated the realms of non-literary and literary texts, leaving attendees with a newfound appreciation for the intricacies of reading.

The masterclass began with a non-literary text—an enigmatic image, which unfolded layer by layer. As the details emerged, it revealed a Nike advertisement for women’s sports shoes, challenging the conventional norms with a bold proclamation: ‘OBJECTIFY ME.’ The shocking headline, however, took a surprising turn, empowering individuality and urging the world to see women as unique beings. The workshop unfolded in stages—looking, observing, interpreting, and finally, unraveling big ideas. Participants engaged in lively discussions, sharing observations and interpretations that showcased the diverse lenses through which the advertisement could be read.

A highlight of the session was the exploration of a literary text—a poem by Dom Moraes. The unique worksheet, with strategically placed blanks, invited participants to fill in the gaps before unveiling the poet’s intended words. This exercise not only encouraged active engagement but also emphasized the importance of being conscious of expectations when reading literary texts. The takeaway? A heightened pleasure in reading poetry through the lens of close examination.

Despite the enriching experience, a tinge of regret lingered as the clock ticked away, leaving the close reading of the literary text somewhat truncated. The round of sharing observations resonated with interesting and varied comments from the audience, highlighting the diversity of perspectives cultivated during the session.

In retrospect, the masterclass was a productive morning well spent. Participants left the room armed with a framework for the layers of reading—both in non-literary and literary realms. Colin and Anuradha’s skillful guidance provided a roadmap for decoding meaning, encouraging a thoughtful approach to texts that extends beyond the surface. The event was a testament to the transformative power of close reading, leaving attendees eager for more explorations into the intricate tapestry of language and meaning.


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