A Basic Guide to Textual Analysis

Analyze the Rhetorical Context

  1. Who is the writer?
  2. What is her or his role or position?
  3. Who is the intended audience?
  4. What is the exigence which prompted this writer to write?
  5. What discipline or discourse community does this text seem to be a part of?

Analyze the Textual Features

  1. What issue is being addressed?
  2. What position does the writer take?
  3. What is the author's major claim or thesis?
  4. Is the claim qualified (does the author hedge)? If so, how?
  5. What evidence or reasons does the author supply to support the claim?
  6. How good are these reasons or evidence?
  7. Why do you trust or distrust the claims and evidence?
  8. Does the author offer any refutations? If so, of what?
  9. How effective are the refutations? What makes the persuasive or unpersuasive?

Place the Text in a New Context

  1. How does this text relate to other texts you have been reading?
  2. How might another writer (or you) use this text?