ENGL 110 AMU Week 7 lesson Analytical Essay Making Writing Relevant American Military university
What is Analytical Writing? Before we can consider how to narrow a topic to be analytical, we must first define analytical writing. Analytical writing has several characteristics that make it unique. When we analyze something, we consider its meaning and we ask WHY and HOW questions (Rosenwasser & Stephen, 2003). This is not something that you will only do while you are a student. We often analyze the world around us at work, at school, and in everyday life (Rosenwasser & Stephen, 2003).
According to Aristotle, it is “illumination through disaggregation”; take it apart to better understand it (“What is”, 2012). When writing analytically, the author breaks down the topic into components, categories, or patterns by reviewing the data and evidence and discovering relationships (Analytical Writing, 2000; What is, 2012). When we try to truly understand something, we break it down and examine it methodically (Hooper, n.d.).
For example, when trying to understand a bird flying through the sky, one must look at aerodynamics, feathers, bone structure, etc. We cannot simply just look at the one snapshot of a bird flying across our sight. By breaking down the overall concept of flying, aerodynamics, and the structure of a bird, we can understand HOW a bird flies (Hooper, n.d.). This allows us to replicate the process and send airplanes into the skies. Analysis leads us to knowledge to explain the world around us (Hooper, n.d.).
Rather than just researching to support the author’s beliefs or what he or she already knows, the writer researches to better understand a topic and to seek out knowledge (“What is”, 2012). The writing is focused on the topic and is done so with logic rather than emotions, opinions, etc (“What is”, 2012). The writer must draw conclusions based on the interpretation of the evidence and relationships (Analytical Writing, 2000; “What is”, 2012).
Using Analytical Questioning
How can I use analytical questioning in the writing process? Now that we have defined analytical writing and considered how to think analytically, we need to consider how to question analytically. Consider a topic and then place it in the context of some of the following questions:
What is the significance of X?What conditions, influences or events caused X to be as it is? How or why did it become what it is?
What is the process that led to X? What were the steps in the process? How did that process take place? How could it have happened differently, and what might be the effects of changes to the process? What is the significance of this process?
Who is the audience for X? What is that audience’s expectations, and how are those expectations addressed?
How does the word “X” work in the text? Does it convey meanings other than its literal definition? Does it mean different things to different audiences? How would the text change if “X” were replaced with a synonym?
What caused X event to happen as it did? Where did it happen, who was involved and what was the outcome? What might have caused it to happen differently? What controversies surround the event? What is the effect of X text/film/visual? How does it achieve that effect? What details contribute to the overall effect? Might it have different effects on different audiences? What choices did the author/artist make in order to achieve that effect?
What are the various opinions about X? What do they disagree about? Do they share any common assumptions? Is there any overlap between positions? What are the reasons for each opinion? (all questions copied from here.)
The Analytical Writing Process
What is the analytical writing process? When a writer begins to write analytically, there are several parts of the process that must be involved.
- The writer should seek to discover and understand the connection between the information being researched.
- The writer needs to organize this information into groups, similar ideas, patterns, or relationships.
- The writer must establish how these relationships fit together.
- As additional research is completed and more information is gathered, the writer must maintain flexibility as this may force the patterns or relationships to be adjusted (Analytical Writing, 2000). This type of writing requires the writer to complete a vast amount of research and reading on the subject in order to make informed conclusions based on the research.
Counterargument and Rebuttals
A counterargument addresses the claims of the opposition to your argument. It is basically the “other side” of the point you are making. It may seem like including a counterargument in your paper is not beneficial. Why would you want to help show the gaps in your own argument? However, when you effectively include a counterargument, you demonstrate credibility by showing the thoroughness of your research and by showing consideration of other viewpoints (Purdue OWL Staff).
Using a counterargument effectively means that you include it in your essay but then use research to support why that perspective has errors. Additionally, you want to use a strong counterargument but make certain that you can write and support a strong rebuttal. It is important in analytical writing to show all sides of the argument that you are writing.
Another important point to remember when including a counterargument is that you do not want to talk down to the opposition (Purdue OWL Staff). Maintain the sense of formality as you write and let the evidence and support speak for itself rather than letting your personal opinion sneak in.
While it can be easy to work in isolation with online learning, the concept of peer review should be one with which you become familiar. When writing, it is easy to assume that what you put on the paper is what you mean to write. However, we all leave out a word, don’t clarify as much as we should, or miss gaps in our research. Having another person read through your work is an important way to catch those types of errors.
Consider a few people who you can use as a peer reviewer for assignments. Provide them with the assignment and give them enough time to give your work a thorough review. If they have questions, clarify those areas in your writing through revision. Maybe you need a bit more research. This goes back to the readings and discussion we had in Week 1 regarding the writing process. Your first version of a paper is not the final version. Just as you need to revise and edit, having another set of eyes to read your assignment is an excellent way to ensure that you are clear and fulfill the assignment.