The analysis paper is the first major paper that you will write in this course. Your analysis paper will focus on David Wallace-Wells’ (2017) article, “The Uninhabitable Earth.” If you have done your reading log carefully, it should provide you with a strong outline for this paper. The final length of the analysis paper should be three to four pages (1000-1500 words), so this is an opportunity for you to analyze Wallace-Wells’ argument in greater detail.
Note that this assignment is not asking you simply to report back or paraphrase the article’s information. You may have written something like that in the past if you were asked to write a “summary.” But your job is instead to write an analysis of the argument. You will need to break the argument down into parts and then put it back together in your own way. Rather than re-presenting Wallace-Wells’ argument in the order that he makes it, you will need to find connections between different parts of the argument. You will figure out how evidence that he presents in different parts of the text support common sub-claims. Thus, from a quick glance at your final paper, we will be able to see citations from different pages in the same paragraph and will not see citations that progress in chronological order (i.e., body paragraph 1 with only citations from page 2, body paragraph 2 with citations only from pages 3 and 4, etc.).
This type of paper is the first step toward entering an academic conversation because it requires you to re-articulate another author’s point of view. You have to pick out what is most important in the argument and explain it in your own words, articulating the significance of the argument itself. The key to this assignment is not trying to account for every point the author makes, but rather focusing on the kernel of the argument and explaining how Wallace-Wells gets there. You are constructing an argument about your interpretation of Wallace-Wells’ argument. There may be several interpretations of his argument (or any argument), and everyone’s will be slightly different. What matters is that you show your understanding of the article and offer support from the text for your interpretation. Be careful and thoughtful in your analysis.
Put another way, your job is to articulate what Wallace-Wells’ argument is and explain how he makes it. This includes establishing the problem he is addressing, his solution for it, and the choices he makes to establish the logic of his reasoning. Finally, remember that this is an argument about Wallace-Wells’ argument, not about the issue of climate change in general, or your own perspective on climate change.