(A) The critique option: In this option, you must write a critique of a specific article from the list below. A critique is a summary plus critical assessment. Keep in mind that in a critique you don’t have to disagree with the article. You can raise an objection, but you can then (if appropriate) answer it.Tips for writing a critique are given below, as is a list of articles.
Format: Use Times New Roman 14pt., doublespaced
Outside reading and integrity: This assignment can be done well without outside reading. Some of you, however, may find additional readings helpful; if so, feel free to read. In addition, you may discuss the questions with other students and with your two-year old nephew whom his parents have pegged as the next Einstein. No one else! If you do read any outside sources—print, web, or whatever– or discuss the paper with anyone you’re allowed to discuss it with, you must list those sources and discussion at the end of the paper even if you did not need to cite them in the body of the paper. If you use an idea derived from a source or a person, insert a footnote or parenthesis on the spot saying “This point was made to me by …” or some variant of that. Under no circumstances may you look for ideas and formulations used in papers by other students, past or present, even future (I like to cover all bases), here or anywhere else, about these questions. Note university policy: plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Grading criteria: Papers that involve a question on a reading (which is all of them) will be graded on the basis of (1) clarity (2) accuracy in presenting an author’s argument (3) argumentation and insight. (Bad grammar and weak word choice interfere with clarity). Be wary of the difference between assertion and argument. Don’t merely state your view; argue for it. Essays will be graded on a scale of 0-100. I sent rubrics before paper #1 and will resend. More on critiques below.
Tips for critiques: A good critique is a clear, rigorous, and judicious summary of an article plus insightful comments that add value to the discussion, whether by way of criticism or by way of introducing additional considerations. You may mix summary and your own comments, or do them separately. A good way to work is to (1) first identify and formulate the author’s conclusion, then (2) go back and figure out the argument (premises, inferences from one or more steps to another), then (3) evaluate the argument—e. g., are there false or questionable premises or flawed or questionable inferences. If you see a problem with the argument as stated, is the argument simply a failure, or can you make the argument better? Keep your eye on the ball—don’t spend an inordinate time on summarizing or criticizing tangential points (there are very few of those anyway); show that you understand the big picture and the main arguments. Do not comment on whether the article is well-written or well-organized. Deal with the substance. If the author is ambiguous in certain of his or her formulations, you can bring out the ambiguity.
One way to get your mind going is this: Suppose you had to conduct a class on the topic, having been assigned that particular reading. How would you present the content of the article? What questions would you raise for discussion? What questions are likely to be asked? This will get you started. You can either summarize first and then evaluate, or mix summary and evaluation as you go along (just as you can structure a class either of these ways).
Here are a few more tips for writing papers, along with answers to frequently asked questions. (1) Clarity, clarity, clarity. (2) Argue, don’t just assert. (3) Always be alert to how someone might criticize your arguments. (4) Don’t write a long intro explaining that people have been discussing this topic since time immemorial . Just get into the issue. (5) Poor grammar interferes with clarity. (6) Yes, you may absolutely use the word “I.” (7) It is up to you whether to begin with a thesis statement. In fact, you may wish to explain different perspectives on the question and not commit to one. Or, you may prefer to set out the problem your assignment deals with and hold the reader (well, I guess there’ll be only one– me) in suspense until the end. Or, the paper may lend itself to a thesis statement at the beginning (e, g,, “I will argue that Smith overlooks a key facet of the issue…” . If you do have a thesis, state it clearly atsome point.
Write a critique of a specific article. A critique, as you know by now, is a summary plus critical assessment. Write a critique of one of the following (A1-A9). Keep in mind[to repeat] that in a critique you don’t have to ultimately disagree with the article. You can raise an objection, but you can (if appropriate) then answer it.
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