Completing this worksheet may take more time than you think. It’s worth the time. The information you gather will help you later when writing up assignments. But more importantly, the process of addressing each of the questions below will slowly work to change how you read texts. Keep in mind that some answers will not be obvious or even observable in the text, and so you may have to do some critical thinking and, at times, even some online research. Use full sentences. Take as much space as you need.
Context & Exigence: What topic/conversation is this text responding to? What year is the text published? What is the exigence–that is, what motivating occasion/issue/concern prompted the writing? The motivating occasion could be a current or historical event, a crisis, pending legislation, a recently published alternative view, or another ongoing problem.
Author: Who is the author of this text? What are the author’s credentials and what is their investment in the issue?
Text: What can you find out about the publication? What is the genre of the text (e.g., poem, personal essay, essay, news/academic article, blog, textbook chapter, etc.)? How do the conventions of that genre help determine the depth, complexity, and even appearance of the argument? What information about the publication or source (magazine, newspaper, advocacy Web site) helps explain the writer’s perspective or the structure and style of the argument?
Audience: Who is the author’s intended audience? What can you infer about the audience (think about beliefs and political association but also age, class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, profession, education, geographic location, religion, etc.)? Look for clues from the text (especially the original publication) to support your inference.
Purpose: What is the author trying to accomplish? To persuade, entertain, inform, educate, call to action, shock? How do you know?
Argument: What do you believe is the main claim/idea/argument that the author is trying to communicate? What stance does s/he take?
Evidence: How is the argument supported? Types of support include reasons and logical explanations as well as evidence. Types of evidence include anecdotes, examples, hypothetical situations, (expert) testimony, quotes, citing sources, statistics, charts/graphs, research the author or another source conducts, scientific or other facts, general knowledge, historical references, metaphors/analogies, etc.
Rhetorical Strategies: What aspects of this text stand out for you as a rhetorical reader? In other words, what do you observe about what the author strategically does (consciously or not) in hopes of appealing to their audience? List here as many observations as you can make about what the text does.
Citation: Add the correct MLA or APA bibliographic entry for this text. Use easybib.com if you prefer.
Notes: What do you want to remember about this text?