Determining an author’s value system around a particular issue by analyzing hierarchical structures in his or her essay’s organization

Deconstructing a Non-Scholarly Text

Description

This assignment will challenge you to identify the assumptions, context, situatedness, and embedded logic of an argument through the close reading of a non-scholarly text.

This is not an exercise in determining whether the author is wrong or right in his or her position, as these value judgments are typically irrelevant to the purpose of scholarship. Instead, unearthing these components through an analytical process allows you to discover evidence of (conscious or unconscious) “decisions” made by the author in writing the text. This evidence will (in turn) assist you in making valid, empirically driven claims regarding the text.

Locate a short, opinion- or position-based article or essay, preferably written by only one author.

Do not select a peer-reviewed, scholarly source for this assignment.

Your selected article or essay should be from a popular publication (e.g. newspaper editorials, blogs, political pundit websites, or educational or health care activist organization websites).

Engage in a systematic process of closely reading the text. Attempt to derive a sense of meaning from the text that is not an explicit argument the author is making but is empirically grounded in the text. Examples of this sense of meaning might include:

Uncovering a political or ideological position based on the historical nature of examples used by the author

Determining an author’s value system around a particular issue by analyzing hierarchical structures in his or her essay’s organization