This challenging lesson gives students practice in analyzing quotations very closely. The exercise begins with the premise that quotations never “speak for themselves,” and that writers need to explain what quotations mean. To prove this point, this lesson shows students that specific quotations can in fact “mean” (or support) very different claims; in fact, students use a single quotation to advance almost opposite arguments. The goal of the lesson is for students to understand that quotations may be very malleable, and thus they always need clear framing and explanation. This lesson uses a short essay, “What is an American?” as the basis of its worksheet. N.B. This activity can be quite difficult for high school students, and may work best at an advanced level.
Gleason, Dan, "One Quotation, Two Meanings: Quotation Analysis Exercise" (2011). Writing Bootcamp Unit. 2.