The Analytical Framework

 A Reflection on Collected English 600 Writings

The Culminating Analysis Of My Own Analytical Development

 

        I am, first and foremost, a creative writer. As an undergraduate, I focused my academic energy on the manufacture, understanding, and production of written text, creating my own works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and mixed-genre experimentation. I spent uncountable hours tapping away at my keyboard and scribbling on the backs of receipts and used envelopes, devoted myself regularly to muscle-cramping sessions of intense group workshopping, and subjugated myself myriad times before the publishing gods. My education was aimed toward the embattled twin goals of artistic excellence and eventual publication, and I had neither the time nor the inclination for classes on literary criticism, theory, or analysis.

        Not surprisingly, this gap left me unprepared for the intensely analysis-based reality of graduate school. With no background knowledge on basic literary, literacy, or pedagogical theory, I jumped into the fields of composition and rhetoric and landed headfirst. As a result of this less-than-perfect acclimation, I have spent the majority of my first semester in the Master’s Program immersed in a desperate attempt to understand everything being thrown at me. It has been a struggle, but I think that I have finally established a footing in the world of analysis.

        This analytical development has taken many different forms over the course of the semester, and its varying incarnations can be viewed in a survey of my English 600 writings. Although the class has produced no major papers or colossal projects, the online forum has played host to an interesting community of musings, textual explorations, and written responses, and the few non-forum assignments have been directly pertinent to the ongoing scholarly conversations in which the class has been engaged. My own hodgepodge collection of short essays, responses, and online postings, while by no means comprehensive, provides an illuminating insight into my fledgling process of analytical development and exploration.

        Three pieces in particular, each written approximately one month apart over a three-month period, offer ample material for the exploration and discussion of my analytical development. The first, a forum posting entitled “Discombobulated Musings,” demonstrates my early attempts to analyze the field of English Studies, while the second, a posting called “Back in the days when I could actually muster up some passion…,” addresses my own role within the field. The third piece, a short essay on the works of Charles Bazerman and Kenneth Bruffee, highlights my attempts to analyze written text and genre. In each of these writing samples, my attempts at analysis are clear; viewed together, they provide a simple and traceable account of my development within the field of analytical thought.

        The first sample, “Discombobulated Musings,” was written for the moodle forum as one of the first assignments of the semester. A basic response to several questions from Rob Pope’s English Studies Book, it forced me to explore my own understanding of the study of English, its historical development, its future possibilities, and its interdisciplinary qualities. By analyzing the information related by Pope in context with classroom discussion and personal experience, I was able to come to a more complete understanding of the field to which I have chosen to commit myself.

The writing sample itself is, of course, only a superficial attempt at analysis. While I did a successful job of articulating the interdisciplinary qualities of English studies, I failed to give more than surface treatment to the real questions asked. Even so, despite the somewhat shallow nature of the post, it is clear that I was actively attempting analysis and had taken the first step toward building my own analytical framework.

This analytical framework was constructed further in my second writing sample, a moodle forum post jokingly entitled “Back in the days when I could actually muster up some passion…” and posted on October 9th. In this piece, I mused over the information presented by Joseph Harris and Theresa Enos in the book Publishing in Rhetoric and Composition, responding to the prompt “How do these readings affect my view of the profession?” with a brief discussion about ego, publication, personal voice, and frustrating gender-based statistics. Building on my understanding of English studies as a field, I attempted to analyze and summarize key issues within the more specialized fields of composition and rhetoric while situating myself as a junior member of the academy.

This piece, due to its short and response-formatted nature, suffers from the same topical superficiality as the first writing sample. It manages to highlight my attempts at analysis while still revealing my failure to probe deeply enough into a new and fascinating subject. The post is interesting as an artifact, however, in that while it is by no means expert, it does demonstrate for the reader my increasing awareness of the academic realities of my chosen profession as well as my growing understanding of what it means to analyze the world around me.

Which brings us to the third and final sample,"Bazermanian Perspectives." In  this piece, written November 6th as a response to a pair of articles by Charles Bazerman and Kenneth Bruffee, I turned my analytical magnifying glass away from the field of academics and focused instead on an analysis of text. In an exploration of genre, style, and context in relation to the written word, I applied a Bazermanian template of analysis to Bruffee’s “Collaborative Learning and the Conversation of Mankind,” comparing the modes of communication employed by the author to those utilized in other types of texts. I fashioned my examination and analysis after that employed by Bazerman in his article “What Written Knowledge Does."

This piece, while certainly too closely-modeled after Bazerman’s to be truly enlightening, nevertheless provided me with an interesting and educational experience. In my exploration of the text, I was able to utilize my swelling bag of analytical tools, and came to a satisfying understanding of genre and author intent. My skills in the area of close analysis were enhanced, and I walked away with a mental template that I can apply in future studies of genre and style.

Over the course of three months, my analytical framework has developed through a series of writing exercises. My ability to analyze the factors at play around me has advanced from a cursory discussion of English studies in September to a more involved examination of my role in the field in October to a focused textual analysis in November. While this process of development is by no means accelerated or unusual, it is personally satisfying and interesting in its very obvious, visible, and traceable growth within the textual realm of the assigned writings.

As a creative writer, I entered my first semester of grad school with the ability to write a literary piece but not the tools to analyze it, the capacity to textually represent the thematic elements of academia but no understanding of the reality of the field. In just a few short months, my analytical tool bag has become weightier than ever, and I have managed to fill it with equipment I had not previously been aware of. I guess I’ll just have to go out and buy a good pair of suspenders.

 

Links to the Works Discussed:

Discombobulated Musings 

Back in the days when I could actually muster up some passion...

Bazermanian Perspectives