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2.4.1: Assignment- Text Wrestling Analysis

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    Assignment: Text Wrestling Analysis

    To practice critical, analytical thinking through the medium of writing, you will perform a text wrestling analysis and synthesize your findings in an essay driven by a central, unifying insight presented as a thesis and supported by evidence.


    First, you will determine which text is that you'd like to analyze. Your teacher might provide a specific text or set of texts to choose from, or they may allow you to choose your own.

    1) If your teacher assigns a specific text, follow the steps in the next section.

    2) If your teacher assigns a set of texts to choose from, read each of them once. Then, narrow it down by asking yourself,

    a. Which texts were most striking or curious? Which raised the most questions for you as a reader?

    b. How do the texts differ from one another in content, form, voice, and genre?

    c. Which seem like the "best written"? Why?

    d. Which can you relate to personally?

    Try to narrow down to two or three texts that you particularly appreciate. Then try to determine which of these will help you write the best close reading essay possible. Follow the steps from #1 once you've determined your focus text.

    3) If your teacher allows you to choose any text you want, they probably did so because they want you to choose a text that means a lot of you personally.

    a. Consider first what medium (e.g., prose, film, music, etc.) or genre (e.g., essay, documentary, Screamo) would be most appropriate and exciting, keeping in mind any restrictions your teacher might have set.

    b. Then, brainstorm what topics seem relevant and interesting to you.

    c. Finally, try to encounter at least three or four different texts so you can test the waters.

    Now that you've chosen a focus text, you should read it several times using the active reading strategies contained in this section and the appendix. Consider what parts are contributing to the whole text, and develop an analytical perspective about that relationship. Try to articulate this analytical perspective as a working thesis- a statement of your interpretation which you will likely revise in some way or another. (You might also consider whether a specific critical lens seems relevant or interesting to your analysis.)

    Next, you will write a 250-word proposal indicating which text you've chosen, what your working thesis is, and why you chose that text and analytical persepective. (This will help keep your teacher in the loop on your process and encourage you to think through your approach before writing.)

    Finally, draft a text wrestling essay that analytically explores some part of your text using the strategies detailed in this section. Your essay will advance an interpretation that will

    a) help your audience understand the text differently (beyond basic plot/ comprehension); and/or

    b) help your audience understand our world differently, using the text as a tool to illuminate the human experience.

    Keep in mind, you will have to re-read your text several times to analyze it well and compile evidence. Consider forming a close reading discussion group to unpack your text collaboratively before you begin writing independently.

    Your essay should be thesis-driven and will include quotes, paraphrases, and summary from the original text as evidence to support your points. Be sure to revise at least once before submitting your final draft.

    Although you may realize as you evaluate your rhetorical situation, this kind of essay often values Standardized Edited American English, a dialect of the English language. Among other things, this entails a polished, "academic" tone. Although you need not use a thesaurus to find all the fanciest words, your voice should be less colloquial than in a descriptive personal narrative.




    Guidelines for Peer Workshop

    Before beginning the Peer Workshop and revision process, I recommend consulting the Revision Concepts and Strategies Appendix. In your Peer Workshop group (or based on your teacher's directions), establish a process for workshopping that will work for you. You may find the flowchart titled "Establishing Your Peer Workshop" useful.



    One Example of a Peer Workshop Process

    Before the workshop, each author should spend several minutes generating requests for support (#1 below). Identify specific elements you need help on.

    Here are a few examples:

    I need helping honing my thesis statement.

    Do you think my analysis is flawed?

    I'm not very experienced with in-text citations; can you make sure they're accurate?

    Do you think my evidence is convincing enough?

    During the workshop, follow this sequence:

    1) Student A introduces their draft, distributes copies, and make requests for feedback. What do you want help with, specifically?

    2) Student A reads their draft aloud while students B and C annotate/ take notes. What do you notice as the draft is read aloud?

    3) Whole group discusses the draft; student A takes notes. Use these prompts as a reference to generate and frame your feedback. Try to identify specific places in your classmates' essays where the writer is successful and where the writer needs support. Consider constructive, specific, and actionable feedback. What is the author doing well? What could they do better?

    • What requests does the author have for support? What feedback do you have on this issue, specifically?
    • Identify one "golden line" from the essay under consideration- a phrase, sentance, or paragraph that resonates with you. What about this lime is so striking.
    • Consult either the rubric included above or an alternative rubric, if your instructor has provided one. Is the author on track to meet the expectations of the assignment? What does the author do well in each of the categories? What could they do better?
      • Ideas, Content, and Focus
      • Structure
      • Style and Language
      • Depth, Support, and Reflection
      • Mechanics
    • What resonances do you see between this draft and others from your group? Between this draft and the exemplers you've read?

    4) Repeat with students B and C

    After the workshop, try implementing some of the feedback your group provided while they're still nearby! For example, if Student B said your introduction needed more integrity, draft some new language and see if Student B likes the direction you're moving in. As you are comfortable, exchange contact information with your group so you can continue the discussion outside of class.

    This page titled 2.4.1: Assignment- Text Wrestling Analysis is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Shane Abrams (PDXOpen publishing initiative) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.