Essay #2 Assignment

Download 35 Kb.
TitleEssay #2 Assignment
Date conversion01.05.2012
Size35 Kb.

English 97/98

Based on SQ

Essay #2 Assignment

Textual Analysis


With this assignment we will be moving from a personal experience to writing about a text. This kind of writing, writing from a text, will be our main focus for the rest of the quarter in this class. This kind of writing might be a challenge for some of you, but writing from a text is a necessary and important skill to learn and/or improve. We will be practicing some of the specific skills to write this essay over the next few weeks.

The Assignment

You’ll write an essay that analyzes, interprets, and evaluates one of the following texts:

  • Simplicity, by William Zinsser p. 173

  • On Being 17, Bright, and Unable to Read, by David Raymond p. 196

  • The Magic of the Family Meal, by Nancy Gibbs p. 208

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris p. 290

  • Shame, by Dick Gregory p. 278

  • The Case for Short Words, by Richard Lederer p. 284

  • The Jacket, by Gary Soto p. 312

  • Memories of New York City Snow by Oscar Hijuelos p. 393

Your essay must include analysis, interpretation, and evaluation (in this order). We will work on all these things in class. Here are some ways you can think about them:

I. Analysis – When you analyze a piece of writing, you look at the different parts that make up the whole. You look at the writing decisions made by the writer and the writing strategies used. How is the text put together? How is it organized? What kinds of words are used? Who is the intended audience? Your essay might include one or two of the following:

1. a description of the style and the tone of the text

2. a discussion of the structure and organization of the text

3. a discussion of the beginning and the ending of the text

4. a discussion of the possible audience for the text

5. a discussion of the vocabulary of the text

6. a discussion of the figurative language used in this text

II. Interpretation – To interpret a piece of text is to tell us what, in your opinion, it means. When you are working at interpreting a text, you are working with its words, its ideas, and its meanings. Your essay might include:

1. a description of what seems to be the purpose for this text

2. a discussion of how your understanding of the text changed after several readings

3. a description of the main point or thesis that you think the author is trying to make and what material in the text supports this point or thesis

4. a discussion of how the ideas contained in the text relate to your previous experience and knowledge and attitudes

5. an answer to the questions, “So what? Why should a reader pay attention to this text?”

3. Evaluation – To evaluate a piece of text is to tell us if it has value or not. Is it a successful or unsuccessful piece of writing? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Do you like it? Why or why not? Your essay might include:

1. a discussion of whether or not the text is successful in fulfilling its purpose.

2. a discussion of the text’s strengths and weaknesses

3. a discussion of whether or not you liked this text (and why)


It will be important to treat your chosen author’s text with respect as you go about writing your own essay. For this paper, you should name the text and the author somewhere near the beginning of your paper. If you want to quote from the text you have chosen, please do so but do so only sparingly – only when you really need to. The focus of this paper is your analysis of the text. Your analysis should be the bulk of your paragraphs – not quotations. We will work on incorporating quotes (where to put the quotation marks, the page number, etc.) in class.

^ Getting Started

  • Think about the various essays over the weekend. Go back over the earlier essays. Which ones did you like best? What about the essay got you? The answers to these questions may help you narrow down your choice to a few texts. Go back and read them again with this assignment in mind. Try to choose your text this weekend.

  • Build this paper in sections, as in “tonight I’m going to write a paragraph on the author’s tone” or “I think I can say something about how this text is organized”. Later, you can rearrange these sections if you want to.

  • Quote sparingly – only when the writer says it better than you can in paraphrase. This paper doesn’t call for long block quotes, but it’d be very difficult to write a strong paper without at least a few well-chosen quotes.

  • Feel free to bring your own opinions and experiences to this paper, but remember that your main task here is to analyze the text. It’s very easy for your own feelings to take over and eclipse your analysis. Remember, you want to strive for unified paragraphs – stay on topic.

  • There isn’t one “correct” analysis or interpretation of your chosen essay. You don’t have to say what you think I want to hear about an essay. What I am interested in is what you think and how you support your own interpretation with material from the text itself. (… and how you express yourself in writing, of course.)

Evaluation Criteria

1. Does the essay meet the requirements of the assignment?

2. Does the essay analyze 1-2 aspects of the text?

3. Does the essay make an attempt to interpret the chosen text and convey why this interpretation is important?

4. Does the essay evaluate whether or not the text is successful?

5. Is the essay edited carefully for grammar, punctuation, and spelling? Are quotes and citations handled correctly?

Due Dates and Other Requirements

  • You are not required to turn in a draft for comments, but if you wish for some general comments from me, you need to email me your draft as an attachment by midnight on Friday, October 22. I will not give you a grade on this draft, but I will give you end comments and some edits on the first page, like I did for your first essay.

  • You need to bring one printed copy of your paper to class for peer review on Monday, October 25.

  • Your final draft, which should be from two to three pages in length, typed, double-spaced, and in 12-point font, is due in class on Friday, October 29. The final draft should be in your folder with your first draft, peer review sheet, and any brainstorming/outline practice we do.

Add document to your blog or website
Place this button on your site:

The database is protected by copyright ©CoolEssay 2000-2011
send message
Lectures, essays