Document Analysis

Document Analysis


For this paper, we want you to offer a close reading and analysis of one of the following primary documents from our reader:
Michael Harrington, from The Other America, (1962)
Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice,” (1964)
Tom Hayden, from The Port Huron Statement (1962) — Section on "Values"
Your task is to explain the argument of the writer or writers. While you should identify what they are trying to convince people of, your focus should be in explaining how they go about doing it. To demonstrate this, you should attend carefully to their language, turns of phrase, and structure of ideas. What kind of arguments do they make? Where do you see them doing it? What kind of language do they use? What kind of evidence do they use? Identify all these things as you read and re-read their essay, and then start to see which are the dominant features that you want to discuss.
Organize those features into 3 or 4 groups – not simply following the sequence of the essay itself – and then build your argument around them. Your basic goal is to explain the author’s argument and how it functions. Your thesis should be made clear in the opening paragraph; you should also identify your main points in that introduction. The paper should then follow the structure that you map out in the opening, developing each point in turn as a way to strengthen and explain your argument. If you have evidence or ideas that don’t fit into your strands, don’t include them: stay focused.

This is not a research paper: you should not go beyond the document itself (and Foner) to write it. Instead you should use well-chosen concise quotations from the document that demonstrate your ideas, and explain what you see in them. And as we’ve discussed in class, remember that your interpretation of their words will likely not be obvious, so spell it out.

The paper should be 3-pages long, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point font.

Qualities of a good paper that we will be looking for in grading…


1. Offers a clear analytic thesis, arguing for the value of its explanation. (In this case you are explaining how the dominant themes or issues in the document work together.)

2. Relies on a structure which is explicitly mapped out in the introduction.

3. Follows that structure in the body of the paper.

4. Draws on strong evidence (quotes, examples, details) to support the main points of the argument.

5. Uses good grammar, style, and spelling to present its case as vividly as possible.

6. Uses citations to indicate the sources of your information. In this case, you can use parenthetical author/page citations – like (Goldwater, 565) – to indicate where your quote or information comes from.



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