Reading analysis workshop/tips.

Reading analysis workshop/tips.
Protip #1: Concision is key.
– You don’t have a lot of space. Make sure to avoid filler, extra words and descriptors. E.g. you
don’t need to say: Rawls is quite wrong here; or Rawls is quite interestingly saying that, we
might say, ..
– Don’t repeat many times.
– Avoid long quotes. Try and refer to the text but do so by reconstructing things in your own
words as concisely and neatly as possible.
Protip #2: Precision is key.
– The entire essay should be oriented strictly around an answer to the question. Going off the rails
distracts from your answer. You don’t need a huge, wandering, evocative introduction. You just
need to get straight to the point.
– You need to describe concepts, key points, and claims from the texts clearly and precisely—
demonstrating you understand the text and are not merely repeating it. You obviously want to
avoid being wrong, or reading things out of context.
Protip #3: The Thesis Statement
– You absolutely should have a thesis statement. Your thesis statement is a direct statement of
your answer to the question.
– It takes the form: “I argue that Rawls turns to hypothetical reasoning because X.”
– Every single thing in this paper – remember, it is only around 700 words – needs to be very
obviously related to this central argument. This is what tightens the paper together. A thesis
gives you and the reader a thread.
Protip #4: Consider an objection or demand for clarification
– In theoretical argument, objections and counterarguments are inevitable. Every position you
might take has an alternative, and every position a given author takes has an alternative. Here
you can consider either.
– E.g. some might say to Rawls that hypothetical reasoning is bad because it abstracts from social
realities (a la Mills). But, Rawls might respond saying all theory involves such an abstraction, just
of greater or lesser degree, and of different things.
o Or, you might anticipate an objection to your reading. So, if you said Rawls turns to
hypothetical reasoning in order to abstract from biases we might have, others might say
its because he’s trying to be systematic and positive rather than ‘negative’ about
Protip #5: Reading analysis is logical reconstruction not narrative restatement!
– We aren’t summarizing the text here. We are answering a question and marshalling evidence to
do so. This is different from narratively restating a text – e.g. “first, Rawls says this, then this,
then this. And that’s what Rawls says!”
– This is why Protip #3 and #4 are crucial. They will naturally lead you to stay on logical,
explanation-style writing and not summary.

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