Your Primary Source Document: Critical Thinking and Analysis

At some point in this assignment cycle, you are going to need to analyze your primary source document and conduct research on its historical context. This analysis and research should yield all the information you need to write your Critical Analysis II.

Writing and researching is all about making choices. You, the writer/researcher, to choose a primary source document. More specifically, you need to make certain you have chosen a good primary source document for this assignment.

  • Ideally, you would want a source that somehow captures the complexity of some aspect of your topic? If you feel that your source works, what complexity does it highlight about your topic?
  • And what particular aspect of your topic. (Focusing on a particular aspect is GOING TO BE VERY IMPORTANT because you will need to limit the scope of your research to a single, manageable idea that can be conveyed in the space of 4 to 6 pages.)
  • Also, you would want a source that you can understand. You will need to analyze this source closely and write coherently about it. It’s important you “get” it.
  • Can you adequately define the rhetorical elements of the rhetorical situation for this primary source:
    • Context ---what are the important factors context that you need to explain to your audience so that they can fully understand the rhetorical situation?
    • Rhetor -- who is this person?
    • Exigence --the primary reason that led to the creation of the document. What issue or event prompted the writing? The answer to this is the exigence!
    • The Rhetor’s purpose for writing
    • The intended audience -who is the intended audience? Is it a sympathetic audience? Is it a hostile audience? Is it a mixture?
    • The methods the Rhetor used to convince the audience:
      • Language and Tone
      • The rhetorical appeals
        • Ethos ----credibility and authority --- does the primary source use ethos as a way to persuade and convince --- think of the rhetor’s status? Does the rhetor appeal to authority --God or the United States?
        • Pathos -- how does the author use emotion and emotional language?
        • Logos --how does the rhetor use logical thinking, reasons, and evidence to convince the audience?
  • Can you explain how your primary source went out into the world and made something happen?
  • How does your topic connect to the ideals of liberty, equality, and order? How does your primary source demonstrate these connections?
  • How does your primary source demonstrate the Learning Community E Theme --Composition, Courage, and Composition?