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Distinguishes between fact and interpretation.

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Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing question and need guidance to help me learn.
Guidelines for Writing a Critical Analysis of a Primary Document
This assignment calls for you to closely examine a single text (in this case, a primary document) written by a single author in an attempt to understand why the author wrote the particular text, in a particular way, to a particular audience, and for what purpose. Thus, the student seeks to determine: what the author described and/or argued; how the author presented his/her information, interpretation, or argument; why the author chose that method of presentation and persuasion (in other words, what did the author view as the evidence and arguments that would most likely persuade his/her audience, what assumptions did the author assume his/her audience shared, and what assumptions did the author challenge); and what the author ultimately hoped to achieve by writing the text.
A student engaged in critical analysis probes for underlying assumptions, perceptions, values, and biases—elements that are present in all texts. Once the author’s perspective, method, and purpose have been identified, you should explain how those elements shape the “evidence” (the author’s descriptions, ideas, concerns, arguments) that the text presented. Some texts present a “narrative” rather than a clearly defined argument. Yet even those texts are influenced by particular values and concerns, and most offer some message, whether implicit or explicit, and it is your job to identify them.
In the process critically analyzing a document, the student is not evaluating or judging the accuracy, validity, logic, or persuasiveness of an author’s evidence, ideas, or interpretation. Since the student is not the author’s intended audience–the author was writing to an audience of his/her contemporaries–the analysis does not focus on whether the author has convinced the student of the argument and/or ideas presented, nor should the student search for present-day relevance in the text. This is not a research paper. However, use the information that the document contains as “evidence” to explore broader historical issues or contexts presented in your textbook.
After you have carefully read and analyzed the text, you should respond to each of the prompts in the rubric below: content, context, themes, analysis.
You are encouraged to cite the document by quoting only very small portions. The rule when quoting the source is, “quote only the language you plan to analyze.” Excessively long quotations of source material without analysis (also known as “filler”) will significantly detract from your grade.
Content:
–Captures source author’s main ideas and concerns.
— Explains what author hoped to achieve.
–Incorporates evidence to support statements by selecting relevant quotations from primary source.
Context:
–Captures the historical situation in which the primary source was produced.
–Attempts to address what the source is, who produced it, when, where, why it was produced.
Themes:
–Identifies key themes, ideas, or historical circumstances and situations from the textbook that relate to the primary document.
Analysis:
–Offers in-depth analysis, explanation, and interpretation of source.
–Distinguishes between fact and interpretation.
–Explores reliability of creator.
–Analyzes underlying assumptions, values, biases present in text

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