Content : Three general
categories of content make up the journals:
Thesis/Notetaking : The quotation that you are
using from literature. Try to limit to four to five lines of type
written text from the poem, play, or novel.
This is a quote that was
meaningful or important to you, preferably on a variety of levels.
This is where you make an initial observation or remark about the
quote. It can be approached in a variety
of ways, but all with regard to answering questions: What do you notice? What
seems important about this quote? Why did
it stand out? What struck you?
(notemaking, continued ): This is where you respond to your own
observations. Why is what you
noticed in the antithesis important?
What does that mean? What do you learn? How does this relate to the
poem/story/author’s argument (etc) as a whole?
What do you conclude from the synthesis of the quote and your
observations? This phase is the for papers. most important with regard to devising
conclusions become fodder for theses—or things you believe the work of
literature is doing. Try to
discuss everything that comes to mind about the quote, either with regard
to the context of the poem, essay, novel (etc) or as it relates to any greater
truth that the audience can take away.
Format : These dialectical journals can be arranged
(according to your preference and interpretation, along certain guidelines) in
one of two manners:
1. In form. table The left column (should be the most narrow/smallest)
which houses the thesis/quote, the middle which frames the antithesis, and the
right which captures the synthesis. Note
the synthesis section should be the bulkiest, so allow this column to be the
widest. Benefit: Tidy and attractive. Drawback: Can become
form. First paragraph is the quotation,
second is the Antithesis, third is Synthesis. Benefit: No forethought about the
image on the page, easy to add on to.
Drawback: Not as “slick” looking.
Ratio : As a general
rule, Antithesis and Synthesis should be
. two to three times as long as any quote you select Example:
A quotation takes up two lines typed on your paper. Your notemaking should be at least four lines
long, easily six, or even more.
Dialectical journals allow
you to do a close reading of a few lines of text, and master certain concepts
about them. I love them because they
prove that entire papers can be written by simply focusing on a few lines of an
entire work of literature, from which certain claims can be made and conclusions
drawn. Furthermore, a good dialectical
journal can actually comprise the body of a paragraph, for which a topic and
concluding sentence can be written. (I’ll discuss this more specifically in
There will be two of these
due over the course of the semester and are worth 50 points each (and four the researched paper). You may use them in constructing any of your
papers, if and when applicable. Later on, you will see that this same concept
can be applied to analyzing a paraphrase or summary, too. These are the
building blocks of analysis.