Textual Analysis Essay

Assignment #1: Textual Analysis Essay

Due for In-Class Peer review: September 18, 2012

DUE for grade: September 25, 2012


What is Textual Analysis?

Firstly, I would like to discuss what textual analysis is and why it is important to academic writing. Thinking critically is the first step in any analysis, and critical thinking is the foundation for solid academic writing. When you think critically, you examine your own beliefs, biases, and opinions in order to question and understand them. Analysis requires you to look closely at a text to examine how the parts and the whole work. It also requires you to ask why the author chose to construct the text as she did. Some questions you might ask of a text would be: How is meaning conveyed? Why does the author choose the text? What sort of ethical questions is s/he raising?

Your Assignment:

In this essay, you will demonstrate your ability to interpret a text clearly based on evidence from the text and on the method of analysis used. In this case, your “text” will be the song “Massacre 1913” by Woody Guthrie. Although you may wish to include harmony or tone into your argument, your paper should use the lyrics as your starting point. The “text” in this case, is the lyrics of the song itself. In your essay, take a critical and well-informed position, and argue a particular interpretation(s) of the text reached by your analysis. Be sure to provide enough evidence for your argument and claims.

This essay will be 4-6 pages long, which means your paper must be focused. Try to focus it by addressing a particular theme or idea that you see in the lyric. Remember that an analysis is not based just on the text, but also seeks to analyze, discover, and interrogate the writer’s own values, beliefs, ideologies, assumptions, and prejudices.


Write a well-organized, thought-out, critical analysis essay. It should be 4-6 pages standard academic format— double-spaced, approximately one-inch margins, 12-point Times font (or equivalent font), and no cover page (see OWL for specifics on academic format). Make sure to bring 3-4 copies with you to class for peer critique workshops.

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