Analytical Essay—Assignment Guidance
Having read over the assignment sheet, again, I thought I’d offer some pointers on how to
complete this assignment. I’ve also taken the liberty of resending out the assignment sheet as it is
actually pretty straightforward and helpful. I’ve also attached the Harn Museum tour info that Dr.
Nichols put on the course Sakai: this should also prove helpful.
1) This assignment is about YOUR definition of the “good life” and YOUR sense of the costs
it incurs. However…
2) In order to illustrate this definition of the “good life”, you need to refer to one text from
the list and one performance or piece of art from the Harn.
The goal here is not to summarize the arguments made in the text. The assignment sheet
specifically to assume no such summary is necessary. You should analyze the text’s position and
cite it in the service of your own argument. You may even be confused about what the difference
between summary and analysis is.
Here’s an example, from a text in our course:
Summary: With the exception of his youth with Govinda, Siddhartha generally moves from one
life phase to the next without lasting attachments to individual people.
This tells what happened, but doesn’t make a debatable claim about the text.
Analysis: Siddhartha is driven by his quest for knowledge to the exclusion of all other “human”
pursuits like lasting friendships or community: up until the end of his life, he understands the
quest for knowledge and enlightenment as an individual tasks from which others can only
It includes or alludes to the information in the summary (Siddhartha is a loner!), but makes a
debatable claim about it. It answers interpretive questions like “why” that the summary doesn’t
even gesture toward.
Sometimes, it’s hard to use other people’s ideas to support your own. You may be much more
comfortable summarizing and maybe analyzing what someone else said rather than using
research to prove your point. An analogy might prove helpful to you Gator fans:
Imagine watching a football game. The talking heads often give playbyplay information
accompanied with some small bits of analysis. Their narrative is driven by the game itself and
captures the game as it happens in real time. This is a summary and you should not do this in
Monday morning quarterbacking, however, starts with the writer’s claim and then finds pieces
from the game to back it up. Perhaps the claim is, “Will Muschamp should be fired immediately.”
The writer would