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Lynn Fall 2015
Length: 3 full pages
Formatting: MLA style
Due: Tuesday, October 20th in D2L Dropbox by 11:59pm
Analysis is a key component of academic writing. Any effective text persuasively appeals to its audience through a variety of techniques and devices. The ability to explain how a text makes its argument and persuades its audience is an important skill in many academic and career contexts. While your first paper focused on summarizing what a text says, your second paper will ask you to analyze how the text makes those claims and present your findings in a well‐developed and focused essay.
Using the stories of Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, and others mentioned in the “Prologue: Rank Strangers” chapter of The United States of Appalachia as inspiration, write a 3+ page textual analysis of ONE of the “Protest Songs” listed in our D2L course page, under Assignments. The goal of your essay is to examine the rebellious cultural critique made in the song, the push/demand for change/action it encourages, and the song’s effectiveness as a form of protest. You will need to offer both textual and contextual analysis in order to fully explore and examine your chosen text.
A textual analysis is an examination of how a writer uses language, images, and textual conventions to communicate his/her purpose to the reader. In a contextual analysis, a text’s rhetoric is examined from the outside in; it looks at the factors—historical, cultural, social—which influence a writer’s purpose, persona, relationship with audience, and overall message.
In this paper, you will analyze how a particular message is communicated by studying the text’s rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, writer’s persona), rhetorical elements (diction, syntax, repetition, cultural references, imagery, et cetera), and persuasive appeals (logos, ethos, pathos). You also need to examine how these elements have been shaped by the cultural, social, and/or historical contexts.
A close look at an author’s rhetorical strategies enables a deeper understanding of the author’s purposes, persona, and relationship with the audience as well as the effectiveness of the argument.
Using specific elements of the text, your essay should examine the song’s rhetorical situation and appeals. Ultimately, what you want to produce is an argument about how the chosen song works to persuade its audience and the effectiveness of its strategies. This essay needs to remain objective. Your job is not to pass judgment on the text but rather to evaluate how well the song works as form of protest by focusing on what the song says (its meaning, not a summary) and how it says it.
A) Choose a song and gather basic information about it:
Who wrote the song?
Who performed the song?
Lyrics for the song
Please do not pick a song simply because you like it. Make sure your text has substance; make sure that there is enough rhetorical material and context to further a discussion about the cultural critique this song is making and the protest/rebellion this song is encouraging.
Here are some questions you may want to consider to help you get started:
∙What is the purpose of the song (beyond entertainment)?
∙What’s going on in society that would make people interested in this text? (Hint: Think of “society” here as having many levels. What’s going on in the world and what’s going on locally or personally for the people who might come into contact with this text?)
∙Was this text produced in response to a particular situation or event?
∙Who is the intended audience for the text? How can you tell?
∙What prior attitudes or opinions might the audience have about the subject of the text?
∙In what ways is the text shaped by its music genre? (Hint: Think about how the text would have been different in a different medium).
∙What do you know about the creator of the text? What do you need to know (aka: what is your research strategy?)
For each of these questions, you’ll also need to ask yourself, “So what?” How does your answer to each question contribute to your understanding of why the text’s rhetoric is the way it is?
B) Make concrete observations about your text. What message/theme is the text attempting to convey? What are the most obvious rhetorical elements? The rhetorical appeals to an audience’s intellect, ethics, and emotions?
C) Determine the contextual factors at work in the text. Under what circumstances was this text produced? Is the text a response to an event, statement, social norm? See the list of questions from Step A. You may do a little research if the text is historically situated, but remember that research is not (nor should be) to be the driving force behind the essay. Any research will be cited and documented in the final draft. You need at least ONE credible, academic source; two sources are the maximum allowed.
D) Write a summary of what your observations can tell you about the context and rhetorical appeals of your text. In other words, how does the context determine/influence how the text was produced/received? Think carefully about how the song’s purpose and context affect the rhetorical structure or elements in Step B. A key reminder: this essay needs to remain objective. Your job is not to pass judgment or to evaluate how well the text responds to contextual factors, but rather the essay needs to focus on what the factors are and how they influence the text’s rhetorical structure. Personal opinion is irrelevant here. Only analysis of the text at hand counts.
E) Note the 5+ lines/stanzas/sections of the song that 1) introduce a social norm (likely implied instead of clearly stated) and 2) suggest changing or rebelling against that social norm. These will be your key sections of the song on which to focus your analysis.
F) Craft a thesis statement (a debatable assertion) which introduces the song’s meaning, its rhetorical appeal(s), and its effectiveness as a protest song.
Example thesis structure: “Song” by Artist is an effective protest song against ___________ because of its use of ____________.
Nina Simone’s “Mississippi, Goddamn” is an effective protest song against the racial injustices occurring in the South during the 1960s because of the text’s indictment of its disengaged audience.
G) Craft 5-6 topic sentences which support and defend the textual analysis you have offered in your thesis statement.
Example structure: Another reason that “Song” is an effective protest song is ____________________.
Another way that Simone’s “Mississippi, Goddamn” criticizes her listeners’ lack of action is through its repetition of the names of the three states that are at the center of heated segregation battles and its claim that everyone is aware of what is happening in these states but few are demanding change.
H) Write an introduction which expands and develops the points of observation you laid out in your paragraph in Steps B-D and leads your reader toward the argument of textual analysis you have made in your thesis statement.
I) Compose fully-developed body paragraphs which develop the analysis and discussion introduced in each topic sentence you have crafted. Make sure that each paragraph follows the example academic paragraph outline I presented in class and includes at least one direct quote (Remember I.C.E.) from your chosen text as support for your claims of analysis.
Song texts are cited like poems. In other words, you should include the AUTHOR (not performer) of the song and the line number in your in-text citation, like so:
The speaker continuously faces imminent danger simply because of her race, as she cries, “I think every day’s going to be my last,” (Simone 12).
J) Write a conclusion which discusses the implications of the song’s call to action or its spotlight on its chosen issue in its time (and in ours). What was the response to the song at the time it was performed? What cultural and social relevance does the text continue to have? How effective was the “protest” and why?
K) Read your argument. Where are the holes? After each sentence (yes, sentence) ask yourself these questions: “Why did I say this?” “How is this point proven?” “Why is this point important?” These three questions will ensure that you completely cover a point before moving on to the next. This step is crucial for full development of an essay (any essay). Add details/elaboration as needed.
L) Edit your argument. Do you go on tangents? If so, cut them or make them relevant to the point at hand. Do you include examples that cannot be concretely proven (e.g.: sweeping generalizations usually made using “all” “always” “most” “every”—these statements can’t be proven because we don’t experience everything or experience anything the same)? If so, reword the sentence to avoid generalizations or stereotyping behavior/thoughts/actions.
M) Revise your argument. Pay close attention to the comments I made on your Essay 1. What sort of errors did you make in terms of grammar/formatting/style? Chances are these are indicative of an ongoing issue with your writing. Find these issues in Essay 2 and correct them now— I’ll list some of the major offenders:
• Missing thesis statements/ topic sentences
• Comma Splices
• Fragments and Fused Sentences
• Awkward phrasing
• Commas with coordinating conjunctions
• Lack of transition or connection
• Use of “you” or “your”
• Vague, undefined pronouns: “it” “that” “this” “they”
• Word salad
• Informal tone/word choice
N) Take your essay to a tutor in the Writing Center in the Academic Support Center on the 3rd floor of the ERC no later than 2 days before the essay is due. Be specific about what errors you committed in your first essay and what specific aspect of your essay you would like the tutor to assist you in improving. The tutors are not there to proofread your essay; they are there to help you work on high level concerns such as thesis statements, organization, transition, citation, and sentence errors like comma splices, fused sentences, and fragments. You will need to proofread your own paper for everything else.
O) Revise and proofread your paper thoroughly. Note the revisions that your tutor recommended and make those changes.
P) Submit your final essay (labeled FINAL as part of the file name), your rough draft (labeled DRAFT as part of the file name) and your tutor response before 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 20th. Only essays submitted to the proper location by the deadline will be graded. DO NOT e-mail them to me; I will not grade e-mailed essays.
*Note: Do NOT wait until 11:55pm to submit your work. The Dropbox will lock at 11:59 PM, and if you have problems, you’ll be unable to submit. See the syllabus for late paper policy.
Reminder: Your final must be in .DOCX, .DOC, .TXT, or .RTF format. I cannot (and will not) grade .pages, .odt, or .pdf submissions.
For this essay, you need to carefully manage your time, keeping in mind the potential for computer crises, network issues, and the appeal of a lazy Fall Break. You are responsible for meeting all deadlines; no exceptions.
Lynn Fall 2015
Length: 3 full pages
Formatting: MLA style
Due: Tuesday, October 20th in D2L Dropbox by 11:59pm
Analysis is a key component of academic writing. Any effective text persuasively appeals to its audience through a variety of techniques and devices.