Comparative analysis

We will spend a lot of time this term examining the ways that transformative works can make arguments about literature. In this short paper, you will compare an original text and a transformative work to show how the transformation analyzes the original work. In other words, you will make an argument about the way a transformative work makes an argument. Doing so will require both a close reading of the original work and a careful analysis of the transformation.


Writing your comparative analysis in 6 easy steps

Pick a text and a transformation

Choose a text and a transformation of that text. You should choose a text and transformation that interests you: you might be particularly interested in the way one of the transormations works together with the original text, or you might have an original text that you think bears close attention and analysis. In either case, just like in the close reading assignment, you should have something to say about the way the text works beyond the level of plot and content.

Analyze your text and transformation

Just as you did in the close reading, use the questions in the close reading exercise to guide your analysis of the original text. Write down your answer to each question, and take lots of notes--aim to physically write down everything important you notice about the text.

Next, apply the questions in the close reading exercise to your transformation. You will likely need to ask yourself different questions in the analysis stage, but focus on the way the transformation works to make its point. What's notable about the way the transformation looks and/or sounds? What kind of words and phrases stick out to you? How would you describe the tone?

Compare the text and transformation

Look back at your notes. What claims or argument does the transformation make about the original text? What interpretation does the author of the transformation hold about the text? Which features in your analysis of the text and the transformation are important to the transformation's interpretation of the text?

Draft a thesis

Using your comparison of the text and transformation and your notes from your analysis, draft a thesis that answers the following questions:

  • What argument or interpretation of the original text does the transformation make?
  • How does the transformation make that argument?
  • Which details in the original text support the transformation's interpretation?
  • Why is the transformation's argument/interpretation important or interesting?

Your thesis should synthesize your answers to these questions; that is, it should not answer them in list format, but should combine them into a one- or two-sentence statement.

Write the comparative analysis

Use your notes and the draft of your thesis to write your comparative analysis. It should have a short introduction and a short conclusion, but the bulk of the word count should be devoted to the body of the paper, which should analyze the text and transformation in no more than three paragraphs (two is often, but not always, a good number of body paragraphs for an analysis of this length).

As you write the body of your comparative analysis, keep in mind that your paper should not contain any quotations that are not accompanied by analysis. Your paper also should not cite outside sources, secondary research, or any evidence not drawn from the text or the transformation--this is not a research paper.

Look back at the beginning and the end

Once you’ve drafted your analysis, take some time and re-visit that thesis. Is your initial thesis actually what you ended up writing about? Often, your argument changes--sometimes substantially--as you work through your analysis. If that’s the case, re-write your thesis to reflect your new argument. Use your conclusion to remind your reader why your argument is important: that is, how does your thesis help your reader better understand the scene.


Comparative analysis FAQs

What kind of evidence should you use to support your comparative analysis?

Your comparative analysis should provide evidence in the form of short quotations from the text and transformation, but it should also provide analysis of those quotations to explain the significance of the quotation and show how it fits into your argument. You may also want to include descriptions of the transformation as evidence to support your claims; you might, for instance, describe an image or images in a comic strip, or some element of a video.

Your paper should not contain any quotations that are not accompanied by analysis; likewise, any description of the transformation should be followed by analysis of why that description is important. Your paper also should not cite outside sources, secondary research, or any evidence not drawn from the text itself—this is not a research paper. For more help with planning and writing your close reading, consult the writing resources, visit the Writing Center, and come by my office hours.

Who is the audience for your comparative analysis?

Your audience for this paper should be a hypothetical classmate who has attended class and done the reading, but has not been overly studious or attentive. This classmate will definitely notice if you make an obvious claim, but there is also room to teach her something new about the readings and concepts from class. Your classmate does not need full, detailed summaries of the text, because she has already read it, but she does need concise reminders to help locate herself in the text and to remind her of what the important points were.


Evaluation and submission instructions

What your comparative analysis should do

  • Analyze a primary text and a transformation of that text
  • Make an argument about the transformation's interpretation of the primary text and the way the transformation presents that interpretation
  • Support your claims with evidence in the form of short quotations and description from the text and transformation, and provide analysis of those quotations to explain the significance of the quotation and show how it fits into your argument
  • Have a brief introduction that introduces the text and transformation, what you’ll be arguing, and why that argument is important
  • Have a brief conclusion that reminds your reader what your argument and most important points were, and how and why that argument is important
  • Be 750-1000 words long and contain a bibliography and in-text citations

Submission instructions

Your comparative analysis is due by 5 PM on Friday, May 4. You should save your analysis as a Word file and upload it to the comparative analysis folder on Sakai.

Evaluation

Your comparative analysis is worth 13 points. Be sure to consult the grading scale as you write your analysis, and when you are interpreting your grade and comments.

Revision

If you wish to revise your comparative analysis, your revision must be submitted by 5 PM on Friday, May 18. The grade you receive for your revised analysis will replace your original grade. Remember, an appropriate revision is one that exhibits substantive changes from the previous draft. Such changes go beyond mechanics, syntax, or other sentence-level changes and make major alterations to the paper’s organization, argument, evidence and/or analysis.