Historical images are a window into the past and can provide valuable insights into different periods of history. Close reading is a crucial step in unlocking the full potential of these images. In this article, we will take a closer look at the concept of close reading and its application to historical images.
What is Close Reading?
Close reading is a critical reading technique that involves a thorough and detailed examination of a text. It is a method of reading that is used to uncover the deeper meaning of a text, and to gain a better understanding of its structure, style, and themes.
Our focus will be on sourcing material that is in public domain using our historical archive resources.
A great source for news articles is here at Chronicling America.
Why is Close Reading Important for Historical Images?
Close reading is an important tool for analyzing historical images because it allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the context and meaning behind the image. By examining the details and elements present in the image, we can learn about the time and place in which the image was created, as well as the cultural, social, and political context of the image.
How to Close Read Historical Images
- Look at the Image Carefully The first step in close reading historical images is to simply look at the image carefully. Take your time to examine all of the elements present in the image, such as the background, the objects, and the people depicted. Pay attention to the colors, the composition, and the overall style of the image.
- Analyze the Context Once you have examined the image, the next step is to analyze the context of the image. This includes looking at the time and place in which the image was created, as well as the cultural, social, and political context of the image. Research the historical events, people, and cultural trends that were happening at the time the image was created.
- Look for Details Close reading is all about paying attention to the details. Look for details that might not be immediately obvious, such as hidden symbols or meanings. Pay attention to the facial expressions, gestures, and body language of the people depicted in the image. These details can reveal a lot about the context and meaning of the image.
- Consider the Artist's Intentions The artist's intentions are an important factor to consider when close reading historical images. Research the artist and their background, as well as their other works. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of their style, techniques, and motivations.
Classroom Exercise: Close Reading Historical Images
Objective: To help students understand the concept of close reading and its application to historical images.
- Historical images (at least 5 images per group of 4 students)
- Research materials (books, articles, and websites)
- Whiteboards and markers
- Divide the students into groups of 4.
- Give each group 5 historical images and research materials.
- Have each group select one image and use the steps of close reading to analyze it.
- Using whiteboards and markers, have each group present their findings to the class.
- During each presentation, encourage the class to ask questions and add to the discussion.
- Repeat steps 3-5 for each image.
- Have a class discussion to compare and contrast the different interpretations of the images.
- Observe and assess each group's presentation.
- Evaluate the quality of the group's close reading analysis and the depth of their understanding of the historical context and meaning behind the image.
- Encourage peer evaluations to promote constructive criticism and to improve presentation skills.
By the end of this exercise, students should have a better understanding of the concept of close reading and its application to historical images. They should also have developed critical thinking and research skills, as well as improved their ability to present and discuss their findings.
Close reading is a valuable tool for unlocking the full potential of historical images. By examining the details and elements present in the image, and by analyzing the context of the image, we can gain a deeper understanding of the time and place in which the image was created, as well as the cultural, social, and political context of the image.