Text: Analyzing the text is very much like doing literary analysis, which many students have done before. Use all of your tools of literary analysis, including looking at the metaphors, rhythm of sentences, construction of arguments, tone, style, and use of language. Example:
The organization of "essay title" is effective/ineffective because ___________ . The essay's opening causes the reader to ___________ . The essay's style is ___________ and the tone is shown by ___________ . The language used is___________ . The essay's argument is constructed logically/illogically by ___________. The essay is organized by ___________ (give a very brief description of the structure of the essay, perhaps telling where the description of the problem is, where claims are made, and where support is located—in which paragraphs—and why this is effective or ineffective in proving the point).
Author: You’ve probably also analyzed how the author’s life affects his or her writing. You can do the same for this sort of analysis. For example, in my sample reading the response about Michael Crichton's "Let's Stop Scaring Ourselves" article, students noted that the fact that Crichton is the author of doomsday thrillers like Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park makes his argument that we shouldn't pay much attention to current doomsday scenarios like global warming rather ironic. If you don't know anything about the author, you can always do a quick Google Search to find out. Sample format:
The author establishes his/her authority by ___________ . The author's bias is shown in ___________ . The author assumes an audience who ___________ . He/She establishes common ground with the audience by ___________ .
Reader: You can write this section by inferring who the intended reader is, as well as looking at the text from the viewpoint of other sorts of readers. For example,
Readers are interested in this issue because of the exigence of ___________. Constraints on the reader's reaction are ___________. I think the reader would react to this argument by ___________. I think that the author's ___________ is effective. ___________ is less effective because ___________ includes ___________. The support is adequate/inadequate and is relevant/irrelevant to the author’s claim.
Don't panic when your instructor tells you that you need to write an analysis! All he or she wants is for you to take something apart to see HOW it works.
To write an analysis, you need to think about how each part of something contributes to the success of the whole.
Caution! Make sure that you're NOT just summarizing the original article, story, novel, poem, etc. Go beyond simply telling us WHAT you are talking about: describe HOW and WHY its elements function.
Specific Information for Analyzing Literature
Summarizing = WHAT
Analyzing = HOW & WHY
When you think about analysis, try thinking about how you might analyze a car.
- Ask yourself: What do we want the car to do or accomplish?
- Answer: (minivan) “provide transportation for my family”
- Analysis: how does each part of the van achieve this goal?
- Example: gasoline powers the engine
- Answer: (sports car) “speed, agility, and style”
- Analysis: how does each part of the sports car achieve this goal?
- Example: light-weight construction enables speed