Interpretation on cultural trends


Instructions for the Analytical Essay

From the syllabus:

ANALYTICAL ESSAY (Ch. 8)—100 Points

The assignment should be 1300-1800 words, or longer; anything less than

1200 words and I won’t grade it.

Pay attention to the Learning Objectives, page 259; the Features of the Form,

page 264; and the assignment itself, Inquiry Project: Writing an Analytical

Essay, page 280 (ignore the Prose+ section; we won’t be using it this


Any research or outside materials consulted in writing this must be

documented according to conventional academic standards(APA or MLA,

sometimes CMS).


Follow Ballenger’s Instructions:

Write on something that is open to interpretation. These can be cultural trends,

marketing campaigns, fashion trends, individual works from music, books,

TV/Film, advertisements, but also social/cultural issues, arguments, and

positions. Anything that can be interpreted by different people to mean

different things is fair game.

Describe the object you’re writing about and identify the patterns, elements,

passages, references, or features that strike you as interesting.

Examine how these elements connect to larger themes, ideas, etc.

Argue for a particular interpretation, a particular answer to the question: What

might this mean?


Understand the difference between text and subtext. Text is what’s on the

surface and explicitly stated/shown; the subtext is what’s beneath the surface and

what’s implied by looking more deeply at the text. The text should be obvious,

but the subtext is where what you ‘re writing about it open to interpretation.

Put some time into understanding your audience. How much do you need to

describe or summarize? How much are they likely to know already. It’s tricky

to figure this out. Too much background or description and you risk confusing

your readers or worse, sounding like you ‘re talking down to them. Too little

and they can feel lost and adrift, uncertain what you ‘re trying to get across or

how you have come to your conclusions.

Gordon Reynolds

ENGL 321

Page 2 of 2

From the syllabus:

Remember when submitting your writing assignments:

All papers must be DOUBLE-SPACED, use normal margins (usually 1 inch

or 1 1/4 inches on each side), and be formatted in Times New Roman 12 pt

font (no Courier or sans serif fonts), have paragraph indentions and no

additional spacing between paragraphs include page numbers, an appropriate

the first page header, and a title for the assignment centered on the first page (for

a visual representation of what a college-level writing assignment should look

like, see the OWL at Purdue website).

Paragraphs should make us of tabbed or automatic first-line indentions

(1/2 inch); spacing is not acceptable.

Paragraphs should have no additional spacing between them (set

before/after spacing in paragraph format to 0pt).

I reserve the right to assess penalties for papers that aren’t formatted properly,

up to and including refusal of a grade (resulting in a zero).

WARNING: Any outside research, whether primary or secondary, used in your writing

assignments MUST be properly cited and documented according to conventional

academic standards. You should study and be familiar with the material Ballenger

provides in Ch. 11: Research Techniques, and Ch. 12: Using and Citing Sources to assist

you in doing this. You may also feel free to consult online sources, such as OWL at

Purdue, for more information on proper APA/MLA documentation.

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