EL111/Advanced Composition – Essay 2: Analysis of Non-Fiction
PART 1 – The Genre
Writing a good response paper is not simply a matter of reading the text, understanding it, and expressing an opinion about it. You must analyze the author’s stance from a neutral and academic position.
Questions to Ask
- What is the main problem or issue that the author is addressing?
- What is the author’s central claim, argument, or point?
- What evidence does the author present?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the text?
- What are possible counterarguments to the text’s claims?
- Why are the problem(s) and the argument(s) interesting or important?
Actions to Take
- Be sure to do all three parts of the assignment, with equal importance to each section. The author is in a conversation with you and the world; in an analysis you must be able to recognize and explain what is going on in that conversation. How to do this is in the guide in section 2.
Actions Not to Take
- Do not wait too long to start writing. Remember that reading and understanding the texts are only the first steps toward putting the paper together.
- Do not write an autobiographical essay.
- Do not just summarize the texts. You are supposed to be reacting or responding to them, not simply repeating what they say. If there is no analysis involved, then you have not responded, only regurgitated.
- If there are things in the text that you don’t understand, try to find out what the text means. Ask questions. Look things up. You will need this deep-reading skill for your research paper.
Note: Every faculty member will be different with this type of writing: some will want you to spend more time evaluating the piece, others on giving your personal reactions to it. The best plan is to ask your professor for clarification.
PART 2 – What To Do
You will write a 2- to 3-page paper, analyzing an article that is academic in nature. Please use the proper formatting (in your book) as you compose your paper.
1) Choose, print, and annotate your article, using the above (and below) questions to guide you.
2) Create a rough outline and send it to my gmail address by the deadline we decide in class.
3) Bring in your rough draft to class on the date posted in Blackboard.
4) First draft will include citations and a reference page, even though you only have one source.
Here is a suggested format for organizing your paper. Your outline should also follow this form.
- SUMMARY/SYNOPSIS – What are you reacting to?
GOAL: Show that you understand the thesis, main ideas, and supporting ideas in the article. Identify the basic information about the article, including:
- the author of the piece, the title of the piece, the title of the book or journal from which it was taken (if relevant), the publisher, and the year of publication
- think about the topic of the article—for example, “The dangers of eating liver” or “Student protestors in jail in Evansville” In other words, tell what the piece is about in this first paragraph. Write a short summary.
- figure out the author’s argument or thesis, which is the purpose or motive for writing the piece—for example, “to show how eating this food can affect one’s health” or “to illustrate the horrible conditions in Evansville prisons.” Then state clearly, in one sentence, what the author’s thesis—not your thesis, but the author’s.
- Analysis/Evaluation – What are the strengths and weaknesses of the article?
GOAL: Show that you understand what the author does well or not so well. Answer questions like why, why not, what, what if, what for. . . Specific questions might include:
- is the article well-researched?
- what are the author’s main supporting ideas? Provide evidence with quotes
- does it appeal to your emotions or your intellect? What examples can you use to support this? Are the examples too personal or are they effective?
- are the sources the author uses reputable? Do these sources lend credibility?
- did the author overlook or leave out anything important? What?
- is there a counter argument evident? Should there be?
- did the author overemphasize anything? What?
- is the author one-sided (biased) even if he or she takes your side, or does the author present a balanced view?
- does the author use any irony or sarcasm? If so, is it supported by rational argument?
- Your Response – How do you react to the piece on a personal level? How does the piece relate to your experience?
GOAL: Share your own impressions and your own experience. Here are some questions to consider:
- did the piece hold your interest? Why or why not?
- was the piece convincing? Why or why not, specifically?
- did the piece bother or annoy you? Why or why not?
- what would you ask, or tell, the author if you could?
- what did you realize as a result of reading the piece?
- what questions does the article raise for you?
Some help with author tags…
Here are some suggested verbs, so instead of “Obama says” or “SpongeBob said” you can use:
concludes defines explains repeats tells us
reports argues deduces analyzes suggests
warns advises investigates asks points out comments agrees
implies hints proposes informs questions denies
reassures us demands declares remarks relates mentions
cautions reveals objects insists chides pleads
…Good luck. Read deeply. Analyze. Ask questions. Be fluent. Be accurate.
Uri Friedman is the senior editor at the Atlantic13 February 2016. In his article “Do Americans Say “I Love You” Too Much?” he expresses how these three words are used in different parts of the world. For instance, he has expressed how he uses these words to his parents, wife, and his son. According to him, these words mean different things when he expresses to his son, parents, and wife (Friedman, 1)……