Guidelines for Writing a Critical Analysis of a Primary Document

This assignment calls for you to closely examine a single text (in this case, a primary document) written by a single author in an attempt to understand why the author wrote the particular text, in a particular way, to a particular audience, and for what purpose. Thus, the student seeks to determine: what the author described and/or argued; how the author presented his/her information, interpretation, or argument; why the author chose that method of presentation and persuasion (in other words, what did the author view as the evidence and arguments that would most likely persuade his/her audience, what assumptions did the author assume his/her audience shared, and what assumptions did the author challenge); and what the author ultimately hoped to achieve by writing the text. A student engaged in critical analysis probes for underlying assumptions, perceptions, values, and biaseselements that are present in all texts. Once the authors perspective, method, and purpose have been identified, you should explain how those elements shape the evidence (the authors descriptions, ideas, concerns, arguments) that the text presented. Some texts present a narrative rather than a clearly defined argument. Yet even those texts are influenced by particular values and concerns, and most offer some message, whether implicit or explicit, and it is your job to identify them. In the process of writing a critical analysis, the student is not evaluating or judging the accuracy, validity, logic, or persuasiveness of an authors evidence, ideas, or interpretation. Since the student is not the authors intended audiencethe author was writing to an audience of his/her contemporariesthe analysis does not focus on whether the author has convinced the student of the argument and/or ideas presented, nor should the student search for present-day relevance in the text. This is not a research paper. However, use the information that the document contains as evidence to explore broader historical issues or contexts presented in class and in your textbook but keep your analysis and explanation squarely on the author and the text. You are prohibited from consulting any material to analyze this text other than what has been assigned in class. The essay. You will write your source analysis on one document. After you have carefully read and analyzed the text, you should be ready to write the first draft of your essay. You should revise your essay as many times as necessary to reflect the discoveries you have made after your initial draft. The essay should be comprised of at least five paragraphs and follow the standard essay format of introduction, body, and conclusion. You are encouraged to cite the document by quoting only very small portions. The rule when quoting the source is, quote only the language you plan to analyze. Excessively long quotations of source material without analysis (also known as filler) will significantly detract from your grade. Follow the rubric on the next page for further guidance. You may consider some or all of the questions when writing this assignment but do not use them as an organizational method: 1. What is the tone of the author in this document? 2. What does the author want, whether stated or unstated? 3. How would you characterize the societies in which the author is writing? 4. How would you characterize the authors position (social, economic, etc.) in their respective societies? 5. What specific language can you offer to support any of your opinions?Name: ________________________________ Primary Source Review, Grading Rubric (attach this rubric to the front of your assignment as a cover page) Exceptional Good Fair Poor Substandard Content Captures authors main ideas and arguments. Explains why author chose method of expression. Explains what author hoped to achieve. Provides a clearly identifiable thesis statement that is sustained throughout the essay Incorporates evidence to support ideas in the form of pertinent quotations and/or information from primary and secondary sources. Captures main idea.Explains authors method but less well.Explains authors intention. Provides thesis but falters throughout.Mostly incorporates evidence. Attempts to capture main idea. Touches upon authors method.Fails to explain authorintention. May or may not provide thesis.Contains only a few instances of evidence. Tries but fails to capture main idea. Tries but fails to touchupon authors method. Tries but fails to explain intention. Does not provide thesis.Contains no evidence Presents random text not relevant to the source. Organization Follows college essay format of introduction, body, and conclusion. Paragraphs contain clear, differentiated topic sentences related to thesis. Presents all information clearly and concisely and in an organized manner Maintains focus/avoids being sidetracked by tangents Avoids excessively poor writing mechanics that obscure meaning. Follows indicated formatting guidelines (see below *) Follows college essay format.Paragraphs have topic sentences.Information presented clearly.Paper is mostly focused.Writing mechanics are mostly clear.Follows most formatting guidelines Follows essay format somewhat.Vague topic sentences.Information presented unclearly.Focused but strays. Writing mechanics mostly clear.Follows some formatting guidelines Does not follow college essay format. Paragraphs lack topic sentences.Information is confused.Ideas lack focus.Writing mechanics are lacking. Fails to follow formatting guidelines. Does not follow college essay format. Paragraphs are illogical.Information presented unclearly. Ideas wanderWriting mechanics are poor. Failed to follow some formatting guidelines. Context Captures the historical situation in which the primary source was produced. Attempts to address what the source is, who produced it, when, where, why it was produced. Captures historical context.Addresses one fewer aspect of context. Touches upon historical context.Addresses two fewer aspects of context. Fails to establish historical context.Addresses three fewer aspects of context. Fails to establish historical context.Provides no context. Analysis Offers in-depth analysis, explanation, and interpretation of source. Distinguishes between fact and interpretation. Explores reliability of creator. Analyzes underlying assumptions, values, biases present in text Offers less analysis and explanation.Offers less fact and interpretation. Explores reliability.Analyzes assumptions, values, biases. Minimal analysis and explanation. Minimal fact and interpretation. Minimal exploration of reliability.Barely analyzes assumptions, values, biases. Presents statements instead of analysis. No interpretation. Does not explore reliability.No analysis of assumptions, values, biases. Provides no analysis.* Formatting Guidelines: Papers must be two pages, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, 12-point font, and submitted in both hardcopy and electronic formats (D2L dropbox).