Argument Analysis

WR2 | Workshops

Argument Analysis

Analysis involves breaking an argument down into smaller parts so that you can understand how those parts work together to make the whole (or fail to do so). During this class we will try to train our minds to uncover the argumentative structure of all that we read.


Relying on your annotations and critical notes, construct an outline of the argument found in Nicholson Baker’s “Changes of Mind” essay.

Your focus in this assignment is on the essay’s argumentative structure. What is the main conclusion that Baker wants you to accept? We can call this central claim his thesis. What other supporting claims does he make to bolster this conclusion?

Baker is a very playful writer; there is a lot of silliness and extravagant verbal excess in the essay. This makes it challenging to distinguish argumentative claims from his examples, metaphors, illustrations, and stories. Your job is to carefully sift through the essay to isolate the arguments, separating them from all the “fluff” and verbal pyrotechnics.

What to Do

Work with a partner to create a document that simply presents Baker’s argumentative claims as a numbered list arranged in a logical order.