Instructor: Jenna Alexander ENGL 3100 Unit 2: Academic Analysis

Instructor: Jenna Alexander
ENGL 3100
Unit 2: Academic Analysis
People often attempt to read, interpret, and evaluate texts “objectively,” as though the text
exists in a vacuum. However, many composition scholars emphasize the importance of context
in reading and writing. For this essay, you will analyze a text that you’ve written for a class by
considering the rhetorical situation for that text. Writing a rhetorical analysis is more than just
summarizing what the text is about; rather, it requires a close attention to language and how
the language was used to accomplish the goals for a particular writing situation.
Brainstorming, Research, and Analysis
1. Start your rhetorical analysis by considering the kinds of academic work that you’ve
done in the past. Search through your old schoolwork and find something you wrote
that interests you in some way. This could be an essay, a set of class notes, a reading
response, a lesson plan, a lab report, an essay exam, a worksheet, etc. You may choose
anything you want, as long as the text was written for academic purposes. In addition,
collect as much information about the rhetorical situation for that text as possible
(drafts, syllabi, assignment prompts, etc.).
Note: If you are struggling to find or select a text, please meet with me.
2. Then, read your text closely and analyze it rhetorically. Think about the language used
in your text and how the language relates to the rhetorical situation at large. Identify
the parts of the text (which may or may not include the thesis statement, word choices,
evidence, the introduction, the conclusion, etc.) and context (constraints, purpose(s) or
goal(s) of the assignment, intended audiences, rhetors’ backgrounds, etc.) that seem
Here are some questions you might consider when you analyze:
What were the (stated and unstated) purposes of writing this text? What were the
goals for the assignment? How did the reader’s goals align and/or conflict with your
own? How did you try to portray yourself as the main rhetor in the text? How did the
audiences shape the text? What constraints did you experience when writing this piece,
and how did those constraints influence the text? What writing strategies did you use
when writing this text? What ideas are being constructed by the text?
3. Next, think about how your text relates to the overarching concepts we’ve addressed in
class. Use at least one article from our class to frame your analysis. (See Greene’s
“Argument as Conversation” for more information on framing a good question.) For
example, you might ask, “How did I ‘invent the university’ when writing this text?” Or,
“How did I construct my voice(s) in this paper?” Or, “How did my use of technology
shape the text?” Or, “Why was I silent in certain parts of this paper?”
4. Using your analysis notes and research question, provide a 4-6 page answer to this
research question. In other words, you’ll formulate an argument about writing in
academic situations, using your text and personal experiences as evidence. This
argument may support, refute, develop and/or challenge the ideas that you’ve
encountered in the assigned readings. Regardless, you should contribute in a significant
way to the scholarly conversations you’ve encountered in the assigned articles.
The goals of this assignment are (one) to analyze an example of your academic writing
rhetorically and (two) to become conversant with several theoretical issues that concern
composition scholars and teachers.
The Process and Writing Calendar
Wednesday, October 22 – Friday, October 24 – First draft or evidence of pre-writing due at
your conference
Wednesday, October 22 – Friday, October 24 – Conferences
Thursday, October 30 – Second draft due
Tuesday, November 4 – Portfolio 2 due (along with the final draft of Paper 2)
o Follow prompt, use approved topic
o Clear, focused purpose
o Well-written thesis, represents essay in entirety
o Brief summary of the original text to help the reader(s) understand the example
o Brief summary of the scholarly source to help the reader(s) understand the debate
o Introduction is attention-getting
o Sets context, motive and criteria for analysis
o Introduces the sources by providing relevant background information (author, title)
o Clear organization that emphasizes content and strategies for development
o Each paragraph clearly fits with purpose of essay
o Paragraphs are structured clearly (MEAL Plan)
o Utilizes effective transitions between main ideas and paragraphs (flows well)
o Resolution/conclusion
o Analysis is clear and fully explained
o Analysis demonstrates depth of thought, going beyond surface meaning for each example
o Each main point (paragraph) analyzes specific detail from text and connects to thesis
o Quotes are smoothly worked into paragraph, not dropped in
o Quotes and support from text are fully explained in connection to thesis
o Essay demonstrates a certain level of maturity, professionalism and appropriateness
o Makes significant revisions from draft to draft, not just sentence-level changes
o Grammar
o Active verbs, present tense
o Clarity
o Sentence structure and variety
o Punctuation—commas, colons, dashes and semi-colons
o Mechanics