Short Analysis

For this short assignment (700-1000 words), you should analyze one of our class readings from last week: Jamison, Coates, or Mogelson. Submit your work by adding it as a post or a page to your class site.

Our efforts toward analysis here should aim for “closeness” as Frost understands the term. We want to better understand this author’s thinking, how they put words and ideas together. We’re also interested in Burke’s understanding of “orientation,” so we want to get at the author’s orientation and how the text embodies attitudes, beliefs, and judgments about the world and how it works.

Toward this end, your work and writing should address the following prompts and questions. You don’t have to address every specific question, but you should address each bullet point in some way.

  • First, pick one of the readings and identify what you consider to be the main aim or purpose of the text (we could say main argument, idea, or theme here as well). What is the author interested in, and why? What do they have to say about this topic? What perspective do they offer?
  • Next, identify a specific aspect of the text that you find significant in some way. This could be a specific word or sentence; it could be a series of related words or sentences; it could be some aspect of how the author develops their thinking or argument; it could be related to structure or style. Explain why this aspect of the text is significant, how it adds to the text and how it contributes to the author’s purpose. What is this aspect of the text doing? How does it contribute to our understanding of the text?
  • Next, assess the uses and limits of the text. What makes this text valuable, useful, or interesting? How does it contribute to a larger conversation about the topic? Do you see any limits in the text, anything it misses or any ways it could be developed further?

It will likely help to include quotes from the text, and you should incorporate citations if you do (either MLA or APA). The following prompts might also be helpful. You are not required to address them, but you can if they help you develop your ideas and analysis further.

  • Why do you think the author wrote this text? What interests them about this topic? What is their orientation toward the topic? What do you learn about the author’s orientation in general through this text?
  • What did the author have to do to produce this text? What do they draw on in terms of experience, ideas, research, etc.? What aspects of the writing do you think were challenging or easy for the writer, fun or difficult?
  • Who do you think the author wrote this text for? Who would be interested in this text and why? What sort of effect might this text have on readers?
  • How does this text compare to other things you’ve read about this topic?