Paper Assignment 1: Difficult Passage
In the first paper assignment, we want you to work more closely with a specific text, selecting a passage that you found particularly surprising, difficult, or engaging and bringing your analytical faculties to bear upon it in a way that explicates it and underscores the nuance necessary for understanding its function in the larger work. This kind of paper asks you to exercise your analytical skills with precision, focusing on how the author achieves a particular effect or deploys a complex argument. We encourage you to think about where you have struggled or responded to readings with frustration, confusion, or excitement as you select your passage. Different disciplines might approach this kind of assignment in different ways, but here are a few strategies or approaches that will help you develop your mode of analysis:
Close Reading/Rhetorical Analysis: How does the passage achieve a particular formal, textual effect? How does the passage do what it does? What kinds of rhetorical devices and uses of language work in tandem to achieve that effect? In what ways does what happens in this passage help to illuminate the work as a whole? An example could be one of the several analogies William James uses, such as the lawyer and client,or one of the many passages in Borges about revision.
Analysis of Argument: How does the author build their argument in a systematic and teleological manner? What are the gaps in the argument? What is it that makes the argument convincing or not? Westerhoff’s arguments against a proposed definition of reality and Mathiesen’s reply to Mill are good examples of possible topics.
Definition / Analysis of a concept: How does the author define a central term/concept? Is the definition adequate? You could tackle one of Westerhoff’s definitions of reality at the end of the Sapere Aude reading, Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit, or one of the definitions of “fake news.”
Part-to-Whole Analysis: An argument is made of many parts. How might an enhanced understanding of a small but important passage from a source help us comprehend the mechanics of an overall argument? An example of an analysis of this variety might center on Baldwin’s “mirror” anecdote to comment on the function of personal experience (as opposed to, say, statistics) as evidence during the debate.
As you prepare to write your first draft, we encourage you to make an appointment with a fellow who can sit down with you in a one-on-one tutoring session to walk you through this part of the process. This need not be with the fellow of your section, as each fellow will have 7 or 8 tutoring slots. Depending on their availability, you are free to meet with them more than once.
A few requirements:
Limited to one passage from one text
Roughly 1000 words
Use MLA formatting and citation style (https://tinyurl.com/HumesMLA)
Draft 1 Due: 9/24 by 5:00 pm
Draft 2 Due: 10/6
Paper 1 Final Draft Due: 10/13