A magnifying glass and a pen sitting on top of a book with several globes in the background. João Silas

Short analysis

Each of your papers this term will be grounded in close textual analysis; Paper I will be exclusively devoted to carefully analyzing a single essay. To prepare for these papers, your first writing assignment will be a short (500 word) analysis of a single section from one of the essays in The Geek Feminist Revolution. You will expand on the skills you practice in this assignment when you write Paper I.

For your short analysis, you will identify a discrete section of one of the essays we have read and analyze that section. You will make an argument about what this section accomplishes and why it is important to the rest of the essay. The body of your analysis will focus on how this single section works, but the introduction and conclusion will connect your argument about the section to the rest of the essay and make a case for paying closer attention to this particular section.

Writing your analysis in 5 easy steps

Pick an essay and identify a section

Identify a single section in the essay you want to analyze. Be sure to determine the boundaries of the section--where does the introduction end, for example, and how do you know? Is there an internal section that you want to analyze? Where does it begin and end? Your section should be no longer than two pages.

You should be able to label or describe this section (it might be the introduction or conclusion, or it might be something like, “the anecdote about the duck,” or, “the section where the author establishes credibility”).

Analyze your section

Just as we did in class, use the questions in the analysis exercise to guide your analysis of the section. Write down your answer to each question, and take lots of notes--aim to physically write down everything important you notice about the section.

Draft a thesis

Look back at your notes. How do all the elements of this section work together, and to what effect? What does this section accomplish, and how does it accomplish that effect? Why is this section important to the essay as a whole? How does the way the section works relate to the essay as a whole?

Draft a thesis statement that combines the answers to these questions into one or two sentences.

Write the analysis

Use your notes and the draft of your thesis to write your analysis. It should have a short introduction and a short conclusion, but the bulk of the word count should be devoted to the body of the paper, which should analyze the section in no more than three paragraphs (two is often, but not always, a good number of body paragraphs for an analysis of this length).

As you write the body of your analysis, keep in mind that your paper should not contain any quotations that are not accompanied by analysis. Your paper also should not cite outside sources, secondary research, or any evidence not drawn from the text itself--this is not a research paper.

Look back at the beginning and the end

Once you’ve drafted your analysis, take some time and re-visit that thesis. Is your initial thesis actually what you ended up writing about? Often, your argument changes--sometimes substantially--as you work through your analysis. If that’s the case, re-write your thesis to reflect your new argument. Use your conclusion to remind your reader why your argument is important: that is, how does your thesis help your reader better understand the scene.

Evaluation and submission instructions

Who your paper should address

Your audience for this paper should be a hypothetical classmate who has attended class and done the reading, but has not been overly studious or attentive. This classmate will definitely notice if you make an obvious claim, but there is also room to teach her something new about the readings and concepts from class. Your classmate does not need full, detailed summaries of the readings, because she has already read them, but she does need concise reminders to help locate herself in the text and to remind her of what the important points were.

What your analysis should do

Submission instructions

Your short analysis is due Monday, 1/15. You should save your paper as a Microsoft Word file and upload it to the appropriate folder on Sakai.


Your short analysis is worth 5 points. Although you may revise your analysis, your time will probably be better spent using the comments to help you write Paper I.