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Seminar Preparation

For each seminar, each student is expected to prepare one seminar question and one document. These are to be chosen in consultation with the seminar tutor. For each seminar, please bring a copy of the document with you.

 

Advice on Analysing Documents

When you prepare a document, it may be useful to bear the following questions in mind.

1. Title.

What is the correct and full title of the document?

 

2. Author.

Who wrote the document?

 

3. Date.

i. When was the document written?

ii. Is the date significant? Why?

 

4. Form.

i. What form does the document take? (E.g. letter, treatise, etc.)

ii. Why was that form chosen?

iii. How does the form affect the way the views are expressed by the author?

 

5. Language.

i. In which language was the document written originally?

ii. Why was that language chosen?

 

6. The addressee.

i. To whom is the document addressed?

ii. Who is/are that person/those persons?

iii. Why does the author address that person/those persons?

iv. Is the way the document is written influenced by whom it is addressed to? How? Why?

 

7. Reference to event or situation.

i. Does the document refer or react to a particular event or situation? If so, discuss the context and nature of the event or situation in detail.

ii. What is the attitude of the author to the event or situation?

iii. Why does the author take that attitude?

 

8. Reference to people.

i. Does the document mention a particular person or group of people? If so, discuss that person or group of people in detail.

ii. What is the attitude of the author to that person or group of people?

iii. Why does the author take that attitude?

 

9. Reference to text.

i. Does the document mention a particular text? If so, discuss that text in detail.

ii. What is the attitude of the author to that text?

iii. Why does the author take that attitude?

 

10. Reference to existing belief, idea or practice.

i. Does the document refer or react to an existing belief, idea or practice? If so, discuss the context and nature of the belief, idea or practice in detail.

ii. What is the attitude of the author to the belief, idea or practice?

iii. Does the author support it or challenge it? How? Why?

 

11. Expression of new belief or idea.

i. Does the document express a new belief or idea? If so, discuss the belief or idea in detail.

ii. How is the belief or idea new?

iii. How did the author arrive at the new belief or idea?

iv. Why does the author express it now?

 

12. Diction.

How does the choice of words reflect the author’s attitude?

 

13. General Views.

Do the particular views expressed in the document relate to general views held by the author? How? Why?

 

14. Implications.

What are the implications of the views expressed in the document?

 

15. Consequences.

What were the consequences of the views expressed in the document?

Carpaccio, The Ambassadors Depart (detail)