assignment 2-5: pan-track-zoom

Due: Wednesday September 28
Format: Leave a comment on this post
Length: One or two paragraphs

Introduction: “Pan-track-zoom” is a method for focusing an analytical essay on specific evidence. This method will also help you contextualize your evidence so that readers understand how small examples fit in to the larger object you are analyzing.

The pan-track-zoom method assumes that by looking in depth at a specific example or case, you can draw out as much meaning as possible and put yourself in a position to make generalizations. When you begin listing many examples without enough analysis, or when you make many generalizations without enough evidence, you make the work of interpretation harder for yourself and your readers.

Guidelines: For this assignment, practice pan-track-zoom on an example from “Back to the Land” — it would be best to choose an example that you think you may want to use in your essay. The example could be a quote, a paraphrase, a distinction Kalman makes, a key term she uses repeatedly (with or without defining it), a photo or grouping of photos, or something else that might qualify as “evidence from the text.”

Before you start the assignment, read the DK Handbook pages 292-309 and page 344. If you were absent on 9/26, also read this handout. To begin your post, quickly summarize Kalman’s essay as a whole. Then move into the “tracking” phase by contextualizing the example as it relates to the larger essay. Explain why the example you chose matters and how it is situated or how it develops in the scope of the author’s argument. Finally, zoom in by making observations and interpretive leaps about the example. To push yourself towards in-depth analysis, look for patterns of repetition and ask “so what?”, identify distinctions as binaries and try to reformulate them, interrogate anomalies (deliberately attend to things that don’t seem to fit a pattern), try to define or explain key terms that the author might leave unquestioned, or uncover assumptions/implications in the example you chose.

Remember that a single passage, scene, or photograph from “Back to the Land” would give you enough to work with for this assignment, especially because you are working on saying more about less.