Practice your close reading skills on the following short passage:

Excerpt from “The Respectful Petition of an Humble Subject to her Majesty Queen Caroline,” The Morning Post, September 09, 1820, issue 15439. Full text available from the British Library Newspapers 1800-1900 archive.

That the prosperity of a nation does, very materially, depend on the preservation of the moral virtues has ever been indisputable, and it would be totally unbecoming your MAJESTY’s sex to question that morality principally depends on females. Now, with all due deference for your MAJESTY’s enlarged sentiments and highly cultivated understanding, is it fit, or proper, that whilst accusations of the grossest nature, alike reflecting on your MAJESTY’s virtue and delicacy, and solemnly discussing in the highest tribunal of the empire — whilst wives blush to hear their husbands read the tale — whilst mothers hide the details of profligate prostitution from their families — whilst virgin innocence blushes at the mention of England’s QUEEN - whilst the eye of modesty is averted, and chastity throws her mantle over the display of imputed, boundless passion, is it befitting a woman - can your MAJESTY think at all, and reconciling reflection with regal dignity and female importance, pronounce it blameless, that bearing the weight of these heavy charges, your MAJESTY should parade the streets of this metropolis, triumphantly proving your possessing a front which no respect for yourself, or consideration for the guiltless, can induce you to conceal? … Oh! Madam, there are females in our island who earn their daily bread by daily toil, that would not exchange conditions with you, whether viewing you in a Neapolitan theatre, rioting in the mirthful buffoonery of your villa at Como, or drawn by half a dozen richly caparisoned studs… Though late, Madam, still deign to take counsel, and be persuaded, that the vulgar shouts of a shameless mob are not the hymns of a sensible, reflecting populace ; nor deem the ditties of itinerant ballad-mongers from the purlieus of St. Giles’s the carols of those who esteem retirement from public gaze, and absence from the page of notoriety, a woman’s most amiable sphere.

  • Write a paragraph describing your reading process in as great detail as you can manage. What kinds of things do you notice about the passage? Are you looking for particular things? What goes through your head?

  • Then read the passage two more times and repeat the same exercise, writing down what goes through your head in detail.

Then go to our class Prism. Highlight the Prism according to the rules of the game and then respond to the following questions:

  • How did you read differently when using Prism? Can you imagine other variations of the tool? How might things with five interpretive categories, for example?

  • Say something interesting about the results that Prism gives you. What new insights does it give you into the text?

  • Think more critically about the categories we have chosen for you to highlight. What assumptions do you think we have about them? How does pairing these two categories change how you think about the categories themselves?