Analysis Essay

  • First Draft Due: 3/30 Mon.
  • Peer Review Workshop: 3/30 Mon.
  • Final Draft Due: 4/13 Mon.

Executive Summary

In this assignment, you will take up the role of an interpreter and will analyze the rhetorical elements of different genres of writing. Your task is to pick two class readings (including further readings: see “class materials” -> “analysis essay: readings”) and then put the two texts in conversation. Your claim should be based around this writing and rhetorical situation. To fulfill this task, you will have to pay close attention to details of the texts and make sense of them. Your analysis should address factors such as the writer’s main claim, the purpose of the writing, the nature of the audience, and the writing situation in which a particular communication act took place.

This assignment has two primary goals. First, you will be encouraged to read different genres of writing such as written declarations, reports, public speeches, and personal narratives as an active reader. This activity is far from being a passive reader, or one who lets the work wash over him or her, not trying to figure it out. In order to find out your interpretative framework which will connect the texts of your choice, you need to pay close attention to the potential meaning of details. Second, you will learn how to analyze various elements of these writings for your interpretation. More specifically, you will learn two ways of approaching the texts: how to read internally and externally. For the internal reading, we will learn and apply important interpreting skills like analyzing quotes and passages, summarizing major points, and unveiling hidden meanings. Through this process, you will be able to effectively grasp the purpose, meaning, coherence, and intended readers of the texts. For the external reading, we will practice understanding one text in connection with another text. This second part of approaching the works will be crucial for this assignment because you will be asked to select two class readings and interpret their rhetorical elements with a closer look at how two writings deal differently or similarly with a single subject. . You need to not only summarize the main claim, the stance and the assumptions behind the two writings; but you also have to compare and contrast these two works in a way in which your readers can understand the relation between them. You might have to research historical background and audiences for the writings and this will allow you to produce different readings of the contents of the texts, but it is not required.

The Process

  1. Reading and Discussion: we will read and discuss several different types of writing dealing with a similar subject – human rights and social justice. We will begin with reading the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” adopted by the UN and Martha Nussbaum’s “Capability List”. What we are mainly focusing on is how these two lists address the similar issues in different manners. After that, we will use these two texts as a reference point to read other types of writing such as Frederic Douglass’s personal narrative/autobiography or Emmeline Pankhurst’s public address. You will be asked to situate these texts and find their relation.
  2. Marking and Writing on the Text: ultimately, you have to make an overarching claim to connect the two writings that you choose. For this, you will have to capture a great deal of details that can validate your hypothesis. In order to find appropriate details, you have to be an active reader. The active way of reading the text will make you think more creatively and generate more ideas. For instance, you can underline passages, circle words, and draw arrows from one passage to another. In the margins, write questions, summaries, definitions, topics that the author addresses, and tentative interpretations. If something is repeated in a work, note where it first appears and make comparisons later. This work will help you to figure out important details and synthesize them.
  3. Internal and External Reading: as part of analyzing the texts of your choice, you will practice how to quote, summarize and paraphrase certain parts of the texts. We will learn not only these actual strategies, but also why these are important to both writing and learning processes. For example, summaries can be a good learning tool to increase your memory span. Quoting an author’s words will make your writing appear more credible to your readers. We will also discuss how to make external readings of the texts for your analysis. You should first choose two texts, which you are most interested in. And then figure out their relation. For example, how Martha Nussbaum view human rights differently from the writers of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights?” Where do they imagine rights residing? What are the similarities between the two texts? Does Nussbaum revise the “UDHR”? You do not have to answer all these questions. What is important is that you make claims, take positions, and provide evidence. Your claim might need more historical contexts to be properly supported. If you judge that your thesis needs evidence outside the text, you can research some sources that will give you relevant answers to your interpretation.


  • Your analysis essay must be a minimum of 750 words in length. (3 pages)
  • You must participate in the peer review workshop.
  • You need to select two class readings and makes an argument to connect the two.
  • You need to include a short summary of the text you choose, and use at least two quotes as evidence. Your skill to unpack the quotes will be graded too.

Evaluation Criteria

You will be evaluated by the following criteria, roughly in order of decreasing importance:

  • Present your analytical skills to read the texts
  • Use the techniques of quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing
  • Demonstrate holistic understanding of the texts of your choice within a single topic
  • Demonstrate understanding of genre conventions
  • Thoughtful response to workshop feedback
  • Clarity of writing (use of revising and editing skills)
  • Spelling, grammar, other stylistic concerns.

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