Paper 3: Analysis
In this unit of the course, we move from critique to analysis, using many of the skills we’ve developed over the past few weeks in order to advance our own interpretations of a particular object (in this case, literature). As you know, to analyze is, fundamentally, to explain, using specific elements of the object in question in order to arrive at an understanding of its meaning. In other words, an analysis essay is one that explains to readers the meaning of a particular object, and close reads specific examples from the object in order to support that explanation.
For this assignment, you will write an analysis of one of the two Sherlock Holmes stories assigned during this unit: “The Red-Headed League” or “The Man with the Twisted Lip.” Your paper should provide a specific, arguable thesis in which you advance your interpretation of the work you choose, and then support that thesis with textual evidence (i.e., quotations) and detailed analysis of it. Remember that you will need to make sure that every paragraph connects to your thesis in some way, and that your conclusion should say something about the larger stakes, or significance, or your argument (that is, why it’s important to read Doyle’s text in the way you’ve described).
Things to Keep in Mind
When writing your analysis, try to follow the guidelines provided in our textbook (WRAC 181). Every analysis should include the following:
• Introduction: Begin with an introduction to the text you’ve chosen. This can be a short summary of the work itself – its author, title, central characters and plot – but it should only provide information that will be useful in understanding your argument. Think of this introduction as a way of getting readers who aren’t familiar with the story you’ve chosen to understand its main points, so they can then understand why your argument is so important. This can also be a good place to pose a question to answer or problem to consider (which your thesis will attempt to answer).
• Thesis: The thesis should come very early in the paper, probably in the first paragraph or the very beginning of the second. Make your thesis clear, and consider framing it through a “they say / I say” perspective (e.g., “some say X about Doyle’s story, but actually, closer reading reveals that Y is the case”).
o NOTE: As we discussed in class, this is where the concept of the “analytical tool” (i.e., the concept you use to interpret the story) can come in. Remember that your analytical tool can be a concept within the story itself (e.g., the archetype of the detective, the role of women, etc.).
• Close Reading: Each body paragraph should support the thesis by presenting evidence and analysis that demonstrates its validity. In other words, your body paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence explaining the paragraph’s main idea (which connects to the thesis in some way), then provide quotations from the story that relate to that idea, and then analyze those quotes to demonstrate how they support the thesis.
• Conclusion: End the paper with a conclusion that explains the significance of your argument. What have we gained by approaching Doyle’s story in this way? How has this approach led to important readings of this story, or understandings of even bigger concepts (for instance, the concept of the detective in popular culture)?
All essays will do these things in different ways, but every essay should include them all in some form.
Use of Sources
Because this assignment is based on your own interpretation of the story you choose and your own close reading of that text, you may not use any outside sources. Thus, the only source you consult should be the story itself.
Papers should be 4-5 full pages long (no less, and not significantly more), typed in 12-point, Times New Roman font, and double-spaced. All papers must include a list of works cited, and all in-text citations should be provided in MLA format.
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