Textual Event Analysis

 Understanding how the observable and perceptible produces below-the-waterline" effects

 Words, Phrases, Images, Chapter Titles, Epigraphs, Graphics (i.e., capital letters, line length, bold face print, italics), Typographical eccentricities or signals, etc.







psychological states

philosophical questions

socio-economic factors

longstanding biases


outlooks and values

shared hopes, dreams, and desires

thematic significance or import

established power structures

considerations of what is natural or normal

thinking/biases of a historical moment

dominant mood or tone of the text

    dual or double meaning

subversive undercurrents or double-voicedness

shifts in perspective, tone, or mood

underlying or figurative meaning

intertextuality (references to other texts, cultural and literary)

subconscious motivations, fears, and desires

common assumptions and belief systems (i.e., about gender, politics, religion, etc)




The Third “I”: Interpretation

Questions to Help with the Process of “Dwelling in Analysis”


“Questions are the important thing, answers are less important. Learning to ask a good question is the heart of intelligence. Learning the answer – well, answers are for students. Questions are for thinkers.”

- R. Schank (in The Connosseur’s Guide to the Mind)

In effect, these are “so what” questions, asking you to draw broader, rhetoric-stage conclusions about your element’s multiple significances. Remember, you can never go wrong with “how,” “why,” and “so what” questions.



The Third “I” cont.-

Helpful Bridges
Surface-level Textual Phenomena and the
Underlying Concepts They Point To

x reflects y
x signifies y
x symbolizes y
x suggests y
x serves as a barometer of . . .

x offers a metaphorical picture of . . .
x serves as an indicator of . . .
x connotes y
attests to
testifies to an implicit American belief in . . .
We can draw plausible associations between x and y
x illustrates
x demonstrates the typically American fascination with . . .
x is associated with y in American culture
connects to
has connections to
relates to
is a visible demarcation of economic marginalization