In order to successfully build an argument about a text, you must make inferences and draw conclusions—and those must be built on the backs of evidence in the text. Let's talk about how to search for evidence-bearing details in text, and how to best derive support for the points you're trying to make, in the only way I know how: by talking about fictitious pirates. Created by David Rheinstrom.
- [Instructor] Hello readers. The following video contains explicit content. Uh, okay, not in the way you're thinking. It doesn't contain violence, obscenity or profanity. Or even anything that wouldn't appear in a G-rated movie, but it will contain explicit evidence. Yes, we're talking about citing evidence in literary analysis. When you're talking about a text and making arguments about it, in order to successfully build that argument, you must make inferences and draw conclusions. And those must be built on the back of evidence. Both explicit, that is stated in the text, or implicit or based on clues or evidence in the text. So your responsibility is to tie those conclusions or inferences back to explicit or implicit evidence in the text. It can't just be, "This is a feeling I have." It has to be, "My feeling about this is backed up by this specific evidence." Say you're trying to be make an argument in a book that the captain of this pirate ship, let's just say, I guess, he's a birdman. That's what I drew, he's a birdman. He's really unkind to the main character in the beginning of the book, but changes by the end of the book and treats everyone, including the main character with respect and courtesy. So I'm gonna write that my argument is that the captain's behavior changes towards the MC, the main character. I have to back that assertion up with evidence. So how do we find those details? First, you have to seek out parts of the book where the captain and the main character interact. Then look closely at the pros and dialogue. What are the details that prove your point? Which are the strongest, most specific details that say, "Oh, yes, here is where the captain is being mean. Here is where the captain is being respectful." If you can't find evidence for your assertion, first, try searching in a different part of the book. Or importantly, acknowledge the possibility that you might have a weak argument. Maybe it's time to start over and find a new or different argument to make and find support for. Once you've assembled your evidence work it into your analysis. "Captain Bigsby is dismissive and rude to Eniola when she first joins the crew of the pirate ship Albatross," I might say. And then back it up with an explicit example of Captain Bigsby being dismissive and rude with a page number citation like so. On page 34 of "To the Burbling Deep," Bigsby says to Eniola, "You there, what's her name! These portholes need to be scrubbed yesterday. Get to work!." "Yes, sir, Captain," Eniola said. "But my name is-" "Does it look like I care?" the captain snarled. But by the end of the story, when Eniola has proven her worth, saved the day, and humbled the captain, he treats her, and everyone around him, with much greater respect and deference. On page 225, after Bigsby tends to Eniola's broken leg, he tells her, "Eniola, that was some mighty fine pirating you did. You showed no fear when you punched that kraken, and more importantly, you showed no fear when you stood up to me. I was wrong, and I have been a jerk, and I am sorry." Now both of those examples use explicit evidence where Captain Bigsby is being a jerk and then when he is apologizing for being a jerk. There's also implicit evidence too. Bigsby tends to Eniola's broken leg. So while he's not saying, "I will take care of you little buddy," with his words, he is saying it with his actions. And in that first example when he demands that Eniola clean the portholes, he's not literally saying, "I'm impatient," But by saying, "They need to be scrubbed yesterday," as an immediately because you already messed up, he's implying that he's impatient. Now there is no such book that I know of about a kraken punching girl pirate. But if we're lucky, my friend Jordan will write one. Remember to use strong details to get good evidence. There might be a part of "To The Burbling Deep" where Captain Bigsby huffs angrily at Eniola but doesn't say anything, and that's mean or, at least, impolite, but it's not as strong as him yelling at her. So when you find the detail, ask yourself, how does that detail related back to your analysis or your argument. Is it repeated? Does that detail or detail similar to it appear elsewhere in the text? And if you see a lot of similar details, how do those details prove the argument that you're trying to make? If you have a sense of what the central idea or ideas of the text is, try to connect those details back to that central idea and then connect that central idea to your own argument. I don't know what "To the Burbling Deep" is about 'cause I made it up 20 minutes ago. But maybe one theme in it is that it's important to recognize the potential with another people. And that can be both true for Eniola who becomes a hero and punches a giant octopus monster, but it can also be true of Captain Bigsby who occupies kind of antagonistic role and then changes through the story. And so we can build our argument around that idea that character change is possible. Not just for the main character, but for everybody. So that's where I will leave you. Remember to choose the pieces of evidence that give you the strongest support for your idea and if the evidence doesn't match your idea, you might need to change the idea itself. You can learn anything. David out.