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AP Language and Composition an examination of how a text persuades us of its point of view Apply your critical reading skills to break down the “whole” of the text into the sum of its “parts.” Try to determine what the writer is trying to achieve, and what writing strategies he/she is using to try to achieve it Analyzing and understanding how the work has achieved its effect Questions to consider: 1. What is the general subject? Does the subject mean anything to you? Does it bring up any personal associations? Is the subject a controversial one? 2. What is the thesis (the overall main point)? How does the thesis interpret/comment on the subject? 3. What is the tone of the text? Do you react at an emotional level to the text? Does this reaction change at all throughout the text? 4. What is the writer's purpose? To explain? To inform? To anger? Persuade? Amuse? Motivate? Sadden? Ridicule? Anger? Is there more than one purpose? Does the purpose shift at all throughout the text? 5. How does the writer develop his/her ideas? Narration? Description? Definition? Comparison? Analogy? Cause and Effect? Example? Why does the writer use these methods of development? 6. How does the writer arrange his/her ideas? What are the patterns of arrangement? Particular to general? Broad to specific? Spatial? Chronological? Alternating? Block? 7. Is the text unified and coherent? Are there adequate transitions? How do the transitions work? 8. What is the sentence structure like in the text? Does the writer use fragments or run-ons? Declarative? Imperative? Interrogative? Exclamatory? Are they simple? Compound? Complex? Compound-complex? Short? Long? Loose? Periodic? Balanced? Parallel? Are there any patterns in the sentence structure? Can you make any connections between the patterns and the writer's purpose? 9. Does the writer use dialogue? Quotations? To what effect? 10. How does the writer use diction? Is it formal? Informal? Technical? Jargon? Slang? 11. Is the language connotative? Denotative? Is the language emotionally evocative? Does the language change throughout the piece? 12. How does the language contribute to the writer's aim? 13. Is there anything unusual in the writer's use of punctuation? What punctuation or other techniques of emphasis (italics, capitals, underlining, ellipses, parentheses) does the writer use? Is punctuation over- or under used? Which marks does the writer use when, and for what effects? Dashes to create a hasty breathlessness? Semi-colons for balance or contrast? 14. Are important terms repeated throughout the text? Why? 15. Are there any particularly vivid images that stand out? What effect do these images have on the writer's purpose? 16. Aredevices of comparison used to convey or enhance meaning? Which tropes--similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, etc. does the writer use? When does he/she use them? Why? 17. Doesthe writer use devices of humor? Puns? Irony? Sarcasm? Understatement? Parody? Is the effect comic relief? Pleasure? Hysteria? Ridicule? identifying and investigating the way a text communicates what strategies it employs to connect to an audience, frame an issue, establish its stakes, make a particular claim, support it, and persuade the audience to accept the claim. It is not an analysis of what a text says but of what strategies it uses to communicate effectively. You must, of course, begin your analysis with what the text says—its argument But the work of the essay is to show how the text persuades us of its position. You might think of the piece you choose to analyze as a particular kind of engine whose machinations produce particular results. An analysis of the engine examines all the parts, how they work in isolation, together, etc. to see how the engine does what it does, or makes what it makes First stage--pouring out our first impressions, our "first take" on a text or subject. draft, notes or outline Describe the general meaning/message of the piece. Do the same for more specific, particular effects. Then begin your examination the piece's strategies by looking at whether/how the work signals in any way its audience, purpose, and context. Stage2--identify the most prominent strategies the work uses to produce the meaning/effect you have described. Use terms and concepts such as—the Aristotelian forms of appeal, metaphor, metonymy, analogy, tone, diction, syntax, etc. Look in particular for any patterns that are developed by the work. Decide what seem to be the most important elements of the work for you—that is, identify what is for you to be the most striking, meaningful effect(s) of the work and methods used to achieve it/them. This will help you hone in on a thesis. StageThree--craft a few sentences that explain why, in your view, the piece works the way it does. Try to craft these sentences so that they set up, first, a description of what the meaning/effect of the piece is, and, second, what strategies, elements, etc. help produce that meaning/effect. Then isolate the textual evidence you will use— probably only a portion of what you have noted. Stage Four--write the draft. Make sure you give your thesis or an indication of your thesis early. You can give the whole argument right up front, pose a question you'll explore, whose answer will be your thesis, or give us a general version of your thesis that you'll refine by the end of your essay.) How does the author use [rhetorical strategies] to convey his/her message?
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