Siebert, Charles An Elephant Crackup TEXTUAL ANALYSIS EXERCISE


DUE ROUGH DRAFT (500-700 words) Tuesday, 1/26/21, 11:30 a.m. (via Canvas)
FINAL DRAFT (500-700 words) Tuesday, 2/2/21, 11:59 a.m. (via Canvas)


Siebert, Charles. “An Elephant Crackup?,” The New Humanities Reader, 6th ed., edited by Richard E. Miller and
Kurt Spellmeyer, Cengage, 2019, 346-59.


Once you have finished reading Charles Siebert’s entire essay, carefully reread the passage reproduced on
the next page. Take notes as you do so, asking yourself the following questions in particular:

  • What question or problem is this passage exploring?
  • What are its KEY TERMS?
  • Its themes?
  • Its examples?
  • What broader implications might the ideas contained in the passage have for the text as a whole?
    Then, reread the passage again. Do you need to add to any of the notes from the questions above?
  1. List the FIVE most confusing words in the passage. Look up each word in your dictionary. Then,
    paraphrase what each means within the passage.
  2. Underline (and copy) the most confusing sentence. Write six to ten observations about this
    sentence. For example: what are the KEY TERMS? Do any words have more than one meaning, or an
    additional implicit meaning? How do the words connect to each other (are they opposites,
    synonyms, etc.)? What are the transition words (if any)? Do they suggest a logical connection within
    the sentence or between sentences? What words imply Siebert’s tone?
  3. Now, put your observations into the context of the passage as a whole: how do the first and last
    sentences relate to each other? How, in other words, do the ideas develop from the beginning of the
    passage to the end?

Choose another paragraph from the article and repeat the three steps above with that passage.

Prompt: Using quotations from this passage and at least one other, produce AT LEAST TWO substantive
paragraphs of at least 250 words each in response to the following question: how could a “trans-species
psyche” enable, enhance, or inhibit anthropocentric thinking?

As you write, work to ANALYZE the ideas you encountered, while avoiding SUMMARY.

➢ ANALYSIS explores and explains; it says something new. It requires that we consider implications,
that we interpret the language and structure of a text. Analysis looks for patterns, dissects concepts,
and explores (rather than merely presenting) evidence. It asks (and answers!) HOW and WHY

Once you have taken thorough notes on each passage, complete the following pre-writing steps, including

the responses in your submitted rough draft


➢ SUMMARY reports on what has already been said. It generally asks and answers WHAT, WHERE,
WHEN, and WHO questions. Summary adds nothing new to the conversation.


The other part of our newly emerging compact with elephants, however, is far more difficult
to codify. It requires nothing less than a fundamental shift in the way we look at animals and,
by extension, ourselves. It requires what Bradshaw somewhat whimsically refers to as a new
“trans-species psyche,” a commitment to move beyond an anthropocentric frame of
reference and, in effect, be elephants. Two years ago, Bradshaw wrote a paper for the journal
Society and Animals, focusing on the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, a
sanctuary for orphaned and traumatized wild elephants—more or less the wilderness-based
complement to Carol Buckley’s trauma therapy at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The
trust’s human caregivers essentially serve as surrogate mothers to young orphan elephants,
gradually restoring their psychological and emotional well-being to the point at which they
can be reintroduced into existing wild herds. The human “allomothers” stay by their adopted
young orphans’ sides, even sleeping with them at night in stables. The caregivers make sure,
however, to rotate from one elephant to the next so that the orphans grow fond of all the
keepers. Otherwise an elephant would form such a strong bond with one keeper that
whenever he or she was absent, that elephant would grieve as if over the loss of another
family member, often becoming physically ill itself. (357)


Your Textual Analysis Exercise should…

  • □ Consist of at least two substantive paragraphs, each of which begins with a topic sentence that
    sets out the project of that paragraph
  • □ Identify at least one KEY TERM – a word or phrase that explores and explains HOW something
    works. KEY TERMS are NOT examples; they are ideas that help us think more carefully about
  • □ Identify and quote AT LEAST TWO textual moments per paragraph that relate to your KEY TERM

▪ These textual moments (usually a quotation) most likely will come from the two paragraphs
that you have been close reading; however, you may choose to incorporate a quotation
from elsewhere in the essay, which is fine.

  • □ Analyze your quoted moments, explaining how they help us better understand your KEY TERM
  • □ All evidence for your claims must come from the Siebert essay
    Your Textual Analysis Exercise should NOT…
  • □ Summarize the passages (i.e., report what is said without adding anything new) at length
  • □ Attempt to address EVERYTHING in a passage (or in the author’s essay, for that matter!)
  • □ Reference non-textual examples (i.e., relate something you find in the text to something not in it)
  • □ Rely on factual quotations (i.e., quotations that merely report facts or examples; these will
    feel like they could be said by anyone rather than only the author themself)
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