Choose an argument to critique. You may choose one posted on Blackboard, find an op-ed (opinion-editorial) column from a reputable newspaper, an essay from the MCC Library database search engines
Choose an argument to critique. You may choose one posted on Blackboard, find an op-ed (opinion-editorial) column from a reputable newspaper, an essay from the MCC Library database search engines (See Opposing Views database), or one of the essays from our in-class practice. *If possible, find an essay that is relevant to the topic you will address for your final research paper.
Required Length: Minimum 2 ½ pages, not counting Works Cited.
You must have a Works Cited page as the last, numbered page of your paper. Works Cited page should be in MLA format and include the essay you are critiquing as well as any other outside sources you use in your critique.
Paper should be in appropriate MLA format, including header, font, spacing, etc.
Your critique MUST be submitted via Safe Assign on Blackboard..
Introduce author and article. Provide background material as needed, such as:
Relevance/appeal of the passage to audience (you? Teachers? Parents? Voters? Anyone?)
· Explanation of why subject is of current interest (politics? Environment? Economy?)
· Reference to possible controversy surrounding the subject.
· Biographical information about the author, if relevant, including circumstances under which passage was written (cultural context, etc.)
Conclude your introduction with a brief (one-two sentences) summary of your overall assessment (this is your thesis statement).
Briefly SUMMARIZE: Author’s main point and sub-points. (one or two paragraphs, tops). Remain objective for summary section.
Next, ASSESS THE PRESENTATION, using criteria below
Do not simply state whether you personally agree or disagree with the author’s position, but rather focus instead on VALIDITY and EFFECTIVENESS of the argument. Use examples from the text (keeping direct quotes brief).
Consider the following criteria:
Success (or not) of achieving purpose (to persuade audience of ____)
Accuracy of information accurate
Significance/relevance of information significant
Clear and accurate definitions of terms
Fair use and interpretation of information
logically sound arguments (look for logical fallacies)
Further response and conclusion:
On what points do you agree with/disagree with the author’s argument? For example, perhaps you agree with the main argument (thesis) but disagree with some of the assumptions of values; or his/her assumptions regarding causes/effects; or the characterization of the world/groups of people. State your overall conclusions about the piece’s effectiveness and success at achieving purpose (with the intended audience), and your reactions. Remind reader of strengths and weaknesses of passage.
Note on Style: Even when you are stating your opinion, avoid using “I” in your writing.
Not: “I think Smith develops a persuasive argument”
Instead: “Smith develops a persuasive argument” (followed by evidence/support of persuasiveness)
Worksheet: Critical Reading and Planning for your Critique
A critique attempts to analyze, interpret, and evaluate its subject. Remember, the word critical does not mean “fault-finding”; its Greek root means “to separate, discern, or choose,” and a critique is chiefly an exercise in analysis, evaluation, and response.
Begin by posing two broad questions about the text that you read:
1) To what extent does the author succeed in his or her purpose?
2) To what extent do you agree or disagree with the author?
All critical reading begins with an accurate summary. You must be able to locate the author’s thesis and understand the author’s purpose, which is usually one (or a combination of) the following:
To persuade (the audience to accept a specific topic or viewpoint)
Article Title and Author: ________________________________________________________________
Answer the following questions in sentence form. Point toward support/evidence from text in answers.
*Question 1: To what extent does the author succeed in his / her purpose?
Almost all persuasive writing will also include informative aspects.
Evaluate (Assess the Presentation) informative aspects (facts/background information) of the argument by determining:
Accuracy of the information
Significance of the information
Fair interpretation/use of the information
Whether terms were defined clearly
Whether the author avoided logical fallacies (e.g. emotionally loaded terms, ad hominem argument, faulty cause and effect, either/or reasoning, hasty generalization, false analogy, begging the question, non sequitur, and/or oversimplification)
*Question 2: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the author? (Very effective, total agreement; well done, but some reservations about certain points; some good points, but not convincing overall; weak argument, and totally disagree?)