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Critical Analysis: Start


This page is designed to guide you through the analysis and research of any text or piece of media.


If you need to write about articles, films, television shows, recorded music, social media pages, video games, works of literature, or other kinds of media, you’re in the right place


First, use the analysis tool below, to take notes on your chosen media. Next, take your notes and move on to researching the social context.



When we want to learn more about a text, or really anything, we conduct analysis.


To deepen this analysis, we research the world it comes from: its cultural, economic, and social context. These factors inform the meaning of your text.


While conducting analysis, you'll naturally develop an angle, a specific point of view on your subject. 


A good researcher uses the best available information, so we’ve provided links to both free and subscription-based sources on the research tab.


Make sure to take notes as your work through this guide and always rely on your assignment instructions. Your notes will develop keywords that can help you conduct your research.


To take your analysis and research even further, you can rely on established critical methods that help us understand class, race, gender, sexuality, and other subjects.

Analysis instructions

Begin by downloading the document in the link below. Use it to take notes as you review your piece of media.


In the impact box, create a citation and collect basic information about the text’s creation, distribution, and reception. Reviews, interviews, and similar sources can be useful here.


In the text column, take notes about the characters, stories, and settings. Think about how these representations reflect our real world. Use the context column to take notes about the real people, events, and places that are represented in the text.


Taking notes in this way should generate useful connections. Expect a lot of overlap: ideas that keep coming up are probably important to the meaning of the text.


In the final box, themes and issues, 1) identify and describe the central ideas or topics of the text and 2) describe how they might relate to the real work. This part of the process should help you understand what the text has to say about the context and how media represents the real world

Suggestions for getting started

  • If you’re working on an assignment, review those instructions and keep them on hand throughout this process.
  • Thinking doesn’t always happen in a straight line. Move back and forth between the pages of this guide whenever you need to refocus your analysis.
  • Don’t ignore your own experiences as a starting point. Considering your own unique perspective can lead to a truly original angle.
  • Don’t just repeat what you discover in your research. Consider how it all fits together. Interpret the information rather than listing it.
  • Talk about your project with classmates, friends and family,  instructors, or your local librarians. Consider other approaches.
  • Let the process guide you to your conclusions and be aware of the assumptions you bring to the table.
  • Remember, if you’re learning new things—even if they change the direction of your research—you’re moving closer to the truth.