Textual Analysis Project

Genre: Academic Essay: Textual Analysis
Audience: Educated, curious readers
Learning Outcomes: Rhetorical Knowledge; Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing; Knowledge of Conventions; Processes
Length: 750-1250 words
Background: St. Martin’s e-Handbook:  “Analyzing Arguments” (9) and “Integrating Sources into Your Writing” (15)

Due Dates:

  • Weeks Two and Three: Rhetorical précis (3)
  • Tuesday 9/28: First Draft
  • Thursday 9/30: Writing workshop participation
  • Tuesday 10/5: Final Draft

We’ve been practicing a technique known as a rhetorical précis: a highly structured summary that explicates what a writer is expressing, how she does it, and for what intended audience. Your first major writing assignment in this class is a textual analysis, which draws on those skills in an extended format. A textual analysis is an argument for a probable or potential interpretation of a text. In this case, your challenge is to analyze your choice of,

  • An Op-Ed piece from the Sunday, 9/26 edition of the New York Times
  • A section of the Sunday New York Times, focusing on an ideological, social, rhetorical, or cultural issue of interest to you

Remember to keep your tone and your references analytic rather than evaluative in emphasis; you can evaluate the rhetorical appropriateness of the argument and its rhetorical strategies, but we don’t want to know if you agree or disagree with it. Support your points with direct quotes, references to tone, and other examples found in the text.

Once you have read, re-read, and taken notes on the article for analysis, write your first draft:

  • Introduce the general and specific topics in such a way that generates some curiosity in your reader
  • Summarize the writer’s main points
  • Illustrate how the writer makes those points, with examples
  • Discuss the intended audience and what kind of relationship the writer establishes – or does not establish — with that audience. What strategic and rhetorical choices does the writer make that seem particularly keyed to the intended audience?
  • Conclude your analysis by helping your reader get past the “so what?” question: are there any interesting connections between the article you are analyzing and the concepts we’ve been discussing in class? Does the article add to a larger conversation?