Critical Analysis

PURPOSE & DESCRIPTION This paper is intended to rehearse the processes of critical analysis essential to all humanistic inquiry. These include careful, critical reading; evaluation of evidence; grappling with complexity and ambiguity; idea generation, development, and refinement; and expressing one’s findings in writing. Students will craft and then respond to a generative question derived from their reading of The Buried Giant. This inquiry should either a) explore an issue unaddressed in class, or b) conspicuously develop a prior line of thinking. Each paper therefore aims to enhance our shared understanding of the work and its potential meanings.

• 1000-1250 words, or 4-5 double spaced pages (include word count at the end)
• 12-point Times New Roman font.
• Margins no larger than 1.25 inches.

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• In-text citation will suffice (author’s last name, page number for the first citation; page number alone thereafter). Please note: the citation is not part of the quotation, e.g. the excerpted text, but it is included within the sentence’s concluding punctuation. The proper format, therefore, looks “like this” (Ishiguro, 34).
• NO outside sources

• generate a question relevant to our shared inquiry (the analysis of which can enhance our collective understanding of the text and its meanings), appropriate in scope, and capable of leading to an arguable thesis;
• support that thesis by reference to appropriate textual evidence;
• navigate potential counter-arguments, including evidence that may contradict or complicate the stated position;
• organize their argument in a clear, meaningful, and persuasive manner;
• synthesize feedback offered during peer-review;
• proofread, and thereby avoid basic grammatical and mechanical errors;
• meet all assignment requirements and deadlines
• identify new issues and/or questions raised by their findings

To arrive at a meaningful question and a purposeful essay, I encourage you to follow these steps:

• SELECT a topic that you want to write about.
• IDENTIFY a question that this selected topic raises for you. This question should focus on a particular element of the work that seems problematic, confusing, exciting, or suggestive. It’s okay if your question is rather broad or general at first—you’ll have time to revisit and hone it as you proceed.
• DRAFT a short, provisional response to your question.
• REVIEW the text and GATHER EVIDENCE pertaining to your question and provisional response.
• CONSIDER other aspects of story that might speak to this question and response.
• REVISIT & ASSESS your initial question and provisional response. How does the evidence correspond with your provisional response? Is there enough evidence to sustain a 4-5 page inquiry? Is there too much? What new questions or issues have arisen? Would it help to focus (or broaden) the parameters of your initial question? Does this analysis invite consideration of new issues or ideas as yet unaddressed in lecture or section?
• COMPOSE a focused paper that responds to a generative question and shows your reader why this question matters. This paper must present an arguable thesis supported by textual evidence that is carefully analyzed and persuasively interpreted.

While you will not be asked to read this essay aloud, consider your classmates as the ideal “audience” for this particular essay: what do they need to know? What terms, concepts, phrases, or references will they understand—and which will need further explanation? How can you best convey your argument to them?

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