Learning Skills

Applying Analytical Skills


Web Resources for This Assignment

For General Education 110

Polyphemos Essay

For General Education 111

Revolutions Then and Now Essay

Analytical Skills   Analysis means understanding the whole of something by breaking it down into its parts. By understanding its components and how they fit together in a larger whole, you understand the whole better. The various ways that you can break things down into parts and then use those parts to understand the original thing or other things are called analytical skills, and every class you take will teach you various types of analytical skills.
   In your written assignment in General Education 110, you were asked to take a single character and to produce a list of separate characteristics. Since the character was an "other," that is, a villain or a monster that represents negative values and behaviors that the culture does not identify with itself, these characteristics could then be used to understand the values and behaviors that that culture probably did associate with itself. This method of analysis—where you break some thing down in parts in order to understand something that is different from or that contrasts with the original object of analysis—is called "contrastive analysis."
   In your written assignment in General Education 111, you were asked to compare one of the eighteenth century revolutions to a modern revolution or liberation movement by showing that both employ similar ideas from Rousseau. This method of analysis—where you break something down in parts in order to understand something that is similar with the original object of analysis—is called "comparative" analysis.
   This is not an isolated skill: every analytical skill you learn in one class can be applied to other classes and to other things. You can use contrastive or comparative analysis, for instance, to understand just about everything else around you and everything that you learn in any other class. Look closely at textbooks from other classes that you're taking. Can you spot analysis in these texts? Can you spot contrastive analysis? Can you spot comparative analysis?


The Assignment

For General Education 110

   On this exam, I would like you to apply the skill you've just learned, that is, contrastive analysis, by applying it to the culture around you. I want you to choose a film that you've seen recently, and identify the cultural "other" in the film. This cultural "other" could be distinguished by being a monster, a villain, a member of a non-European ethnic group, or whatever; what is important is that this cultural "other" represents values and behaviors that are not considered American values and behaviors. In a two paragraph essay, identify these negative values and behaviors and use them to construct the opposite, positive values and behaviors that Americans would identify. If you find that the cultural "other" is a member of a non-European race, or a woman, or a homosexual, or overweight, then try to account for the reason why.

For General Education 111

   On this exam, I would like you to apply the skill you've just learned, that is, comparative analysis, by applying it to the culture around you. I want you to choose a film that you've seen recently, and in one paragraph identify how the film also uses ideas from Rousseau in the way it presents society or individuals. It's not like the filmmakers are consciously putting Rousseau into the film, it's just that most of our concepts of society, social relationships, and the nature of the individual are found in Rousseau.


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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-15-97