1) Identify the author’s thesis. Determine what the author is arguing for or against. • The thesis of an academic article might be easier to identify than the thesis of a creative work, movie, or painting. If critiquing a work of fiction or creative nonfiction, in either written form or film form, identify one main theme of the story. • Ask yourself what the context of the argument is and why the author may have felt the need to argue it. • Ask yourself if the author offers a solution to any problems they raise in their thesis. If so, ask if this solution is realistic. 2) Note all main ideas. Identify the main ideas of the work in order to analyze its structure. • In an academic article, the main ideas can usually be found amongst the topic sentences of each paragraph or section. For works of fiction or paintings, you will need to ask yourself what evidence the author presents in an attempt to explain his or her thesis. 3) Research unfamiliar material. Use a dictionary and encyclopedia to briefly look up words and other material that you know little to nothing about. • More in-depth research is not usually necessary. The only exception would be if the entire work is built around an unfamiliar concept, at which point, you should consider reading other articles that describe the concept more clearly in order to provide context to the piece you are analyzing. 4) Describe the work in your own words. One option is to make an outline of the work, while the second is the write a brief summary. An especially thorough reading of the work will include both. • If writing a summary of the work, it only needs to be one or two paragraphs. Try to phrase the summary in your own words as much as possible. 5) Identify any appeals used. The three basic types of appeals are pathos, logos, and ethos. • Pathos is an attempt to appeal to a reader’s emotions. Works meant to entertain generally
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