Writing Assignment 2: Difficult Passage

In this second writing assignment, you will practice analyzing a challenging text.

Begin your work by thinking about a reading that made you feel frustrated, confused, or excited (or a combination). Avoid passages that we have already discussed in class or covered in plenary, as well as the text you worked with in the first assignment. Clear your difficult passage with you new section leader.

Before you begin writing, we encourage you to make an appointment with a faculty member, a CTL writing tutor, or a fellow to discuss your choice of passage and the approach you will take to it.

Different disciplines will approach text analysis in diverse ways. Here are a few examples that will help you develop your mode of analysis:

Argument analysis: How does the difficult passage play a part in the author’s creation of an organized, persuasive argument?[1] 

Close reading/rhetorical analysis: What kinds of rhetorical devices and uses of language produce certain effects in the reader? How do those effects illuminate the work as a whole?

Definition/concept analysis: How does the author define the text’s central term or concept? Is this definition adequate?

Part-to-whole analysis: How does close analysis of this small but important passage help elucidate the entire source’s argument?


Choose one relatively brief passage from one text from the course so far (including the Sapere Aude reader).

Your analysis should be 1000 words in length (approx. 3-4 pages double-spaced with standard margins and 12-point font). Submit initial and final drafts in Moodle as PDFs.

Use MLA formatting and citation style (see https://tinyurl.com/HumesMLA). Always proofread citations produced by a citation generator (e.g., Zotero).

Initial draft due Friday, October 27, by 5pm. Final draft due Friday, November 10 by 5pm.

[1] This sense of “argument” does not mean an unreasoned dispute or rowdy fight but instead refers to a “well-reasoned perspective . . . supported by logic or evidence, presented fairly.” See Charles Lipson, How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 127.