Critical Text Analysis (50 points)
We are practicing our skills in analysis. The purpose of analysis is to have a better and deeper understanding of a text, object, or person (in the case of psychoanalysis). Some of what we do will include gaining an understanding of symbols/metaphors, and finding some type of “meaning” in the body of work. Most of this is accomplished through learning what questions to ask when looking at a text (Examples: Why the color red? Why name the character John? Why might this text have been important when it was written? What was the writer’s purpose?). Focus on questions of “why” and “how” to reach a deeper understanding.
Students MUST choose one of the following options:
•1 movie from the attached list
•1 short story or play from the list
•1 speech of your choice – student must provide the text
If you need help getting started, try to answer some of these questions:
1. What is the purpose of the text? Why did the writer/filmmaker bother creating it?
2. In what way(s) does the text reflect the society in which it was created?
3. What symbols or metaphors share a greater significance to the understanding of the text? In what ways?
4. Though this is not a question to consider, I recommend taking advantage of the various packets on Blackboard that will help you get started on the essay. Each packet is specifically designed to help with the type of text (film, poem, etc.) you intend to analyze. They also each include a sample paper written by a student.
Tip: Be sure to avoid summarizing the text. Analyzing is digging beyond the surface. It is questioning what you are seeing, breaking the large work down into smaller pieces, and reaching some type of conclusion based on your findings. Also, avoid evaluation of the text. Statements like “I really liked it” or “I thought it was terrible,” have no relevance to this assignment.
Use specific examples from your text to serve as evidence of the claims you make. For example, if you were discussing the meaning behind the color red in the film American Beauty, and you claimed that it served as a symbol of deep passion, you may discuss Carolyn wearing a red slip under her otherwise neutral clothes, or Lester buying a red car (the car he always wanted) after he makes changes in his life.
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