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Writing a Critique: overview. Discuss the relationship between critical reading and critique writing Identify 2 categories of questions to ask when preparing a critique Define “critique” Enumerate writing purposes and 3 ways to assess information in a text

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Writing a Critique: overview

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Writing a critique overview

Writing a Critique: overview

  • Discuss the relationship between critical reading and critique writing

  • Identify 2 categories of questions to ask when preparing a critique

  • Define “critique”

  • Enumerate writing purposes and 3 ways to assess information in a text

  • Analyze some questions to ask of a text when preparing a critique

  • Identify the five parts of a written critique


Critical reading requires you to

Critical reading requires you to

  • summarize - reproduce / restate basics of content and argument

  • evaluate (more complex than summary) - give your assessment of content and argument

  • in post-secondary work, you read to gain and use new information - but “you must learn to distinguish critically among sources by evaluating them” (WRAD, p. 68)


Critiques and critical reading notes from wrad ch 3

Critiques and Critical Reading(notes from WRAD, Ch. 3)

A critique

  • is a “written analogue” (p. 68) of critical reading

  • requires all the skills of critical reading:

    • “discernment…

    • sensitivity…

    • imagination…

    • a willingness to become involved in what you read” (p. 68)


Definition of critique

Definition of “Critique”

  • a spoken or written discourse that presents “a formalized, critical reading of a passage” (p. 89)

  • a personal response, but rigorous, organized, and containing supporting evidence

  • purpose: “to turn your critical reading of a passage into a systematic evaluation to deepen your reader’s (and your own) understanding of that passage.” (p. 89)


Organizing a critique pp 90 91

Organizing a critique (pp. 90-91)

Consider a five-part organization:

  • introduction

  • summaryof the author’s/ text main points, including author’s purpose

  • analysis of validity of the author’s / text’s presentation

  • your response to the presentation

  • conclusion - your conclusion about the overall validity of the text


Critiques consider

Critiques consider

  • what an author says

  • how well points are made (including use of appeals, language, evidence)

  • what assumptions underlie the argument

  • what issues may be overlooked

  • what implications can be drawn from such an analysis (p. 89)


Critiques answer 2 types of questions

Critiques answer 2 types of questions:

  • Questions about Author’s / Text’sPurpose

    • What’s the author’s purpose in writing?

    • Does the text succeed in achieving this purpose?

  • Questions about Your Evaluation

    • To what extent do you agree with the author?

    • What evidence do you have to support your position?

    • Whose interests are served by the text?


Critique part 1 close reading author s text s purpose

CRITIQUE PART 1 - CLOSE READING: AUTHOR’S / TEXT’S PURPOSE

  • “All critical reading begins with an accurate summary” (p. 68) that will identify the chief purpose of the text you’re critiquing:

    • locate thesis

    • identify content and structure

    • understand specific purpose (inform, persuade, entertain) NOTE: only informative & persuasive writing is considered in detail in our Academic Writing course

  • Only after doing this work can you determine how successful author & text have been…

    • … because you need to use different assessment criteria for diff. writing purposes


How to assess informative writing p 69

How to Assess Informative Writing(p. 69)

  • accuracy

    • Is the information trustworthy?

  • significance

    • Does it make a difference?

      • why or why not?

  • fair interpretation

    • Distinguish between facts (figures) and author’s interpretation.

    • Facts can be valuable, but author’s interpretation may not be fair or valuable.


How to assess persuasive writing pp 70 71

How to Assess Persuasive Writing(pp. 70-71)

  • To make a persuasive case, writer must have an arguable assertion (thesis).

  • An arguable assertion is a statement

    • about which reasonable people could disagree (p. 70)

    • that can be debated using reason.

  • Which of the ff. are arguable assertions? Why or why not?

    • Children under 18 should avoid caffeinated beverages.

    • Coffee is better than tea.

    • [note: assume that these facts are true] When both are brewed according to manufacturer’s directions, 8 oz. of tazo Zen Green tea contains more caffeine than 8 oz. of Starbuck’s Macholicious coffee.


How to assess persuasive writing cont

How to Assess Persuasive Writing,cont.

  • Thesis statements in persuasive discourse are conclusions drawn after research and thinking.

  • Writers organize evidence to

    • support one conclusion

    • oppose or dismiss another / others.

  • You can assess validity of arguments by determining if the author has

    • defined key terms clearly (pp. 76-77)

    • used information fairly (p.77)

    • argued logically, without fallacies (review pp. 77-82 & Mod. 10 notes)


How to assess persuasive writing cont1

How to Assess Persuasive Writing,cont.

  • Does the author clearly define terms?

    • it is clear what’s being discussed?

      • see Fromm, pp. 269-270, on definitions of “authoritarian conscience” and “humanistic conscience”

  • Does the author use information fairly?

    • is data accurate & up to date, given the topic?

    • is representative - does it include context?

      • Fromm doesn’t mention the Cuban missile crisis of Oct. 1963; is it fair for a reader in 2006 to criticize him for this omission?


How to assess persuasive writing cont2

How to Assess Persuasive Writing,cont.

  • If bias is present, is it a valid bias?

    • a “biased argument…weighted towards one point of view…may be valid as long as it is logically sound” (p. 79)

    • “an argument should be governed by principles of logic - clear and orderly thinking” (p. 79)

  • Are ethos and pathos used fairly? (see Mod. 8 notes)

  • Does the text avoid fallacies? (see Mod. 10 notes)


Reminder common argumentative fallacies

(reminder) Common argumentative fallacies

  • Emotionally loaded terms

  • Ad hominem argument

  • Post hoc, ergo propter hoc / Faulty cause and effect

  • Either / Or reasoning

  • Hasty generalization

  • False analogy

  • Begging the question & circular reasoning

  • Non sequitur

  • Oversimplification


Critique part 2 stepping back your evaluation

CRITIQUE PART 2 - STEPPING BACK: YOUR EVALUATION

  • Analyze Author’s / Text’s Purpose

    • What’s the author’s purpose in writing?

    • Does the author succeed in achieving this purpose?

  • Give Your Evaluation

    • To what extent do you agree with the author? Why or why not?

    • Whose interests are served by the text?

  • After you analyze whether and how a text achieves its purpose, the second step in a critique is to evaluate and present your response


Your evaluation

Your Evaluation…

  • is

    • the heart and soul of your critique

    • your response “to the author’s main assertions” (p. 85)

  • clearly distinguishes your critique from a simple

    • summary

    • statement of specific features of or fallacies in a text.

      Take care to distinguish a summary (simple restatement) from evaluation (your analysis).


Your evaluation cont

Your evaluation, cont.

  • Distinguish between

    • your evaluation of the author’s purpose and author’s success at achieving it

    • your agreement or disagreement with the author’s views. (p. 85)

  • some possibilities:

    • You agree with the author’s position but find evidence lacking or shaky.

    • You find evidence and logic solid but resist the conclusion. (p. 85)


Your evaluation cont1

Your evaluation, cont.

  • Present your response to an author’s assertions by (pp. 85-88)

    • identifying points of agreement and disagreement

    • evaluating assumptions made by the text / author

    • asking “whose interests are served by the text? - see “critical literacy” questions on p. 89


How to identify points of agreement disagreement

How to identify points of agreement / disagreement

  • summarize author’s / text’s position

  • “state your own position & elaborate on your reasons for holding it” (p. 85)

  • “Your elaboration

    • …becomes an argument in itself” (p. 85)

    • needs supporting evidence to be effective: WHY did you agree, disagree, etc.


Agreement disagreement cont

Agreement / disagreement, cont.

  • Two ways you can elaborate are by identifying and discussing

    • your own & author’s assumptions (pp. 85-86)

    • any fallacies in the text you’re assessing

  • (CL) In a critique, your “voice” or thesis must clearly be heard over the “voice” and ideas of the text you’re assessing

  • The structure of your critique is the structure of YOUR thoughts, not that of the text you’re discussing.


Using critical social theory with care

Using critical social theory with care

  • “Whose interests does the text serve?”is (CL) a post-modern version of checking the text’s assumptions

  • “Whose interests does the critique serve?” will always also be asked by the author of a credible critique.

  • Interrogate the text (see p, 89), but be prepared to analyze yourself just as rigorously. Examples:

    • Who’s telling the story? (Who’s analyzing the text?)

    • Whose voices are heard? (Whose voices were there but failed to be heard by you?) Whose are left out? Whose voices don’t belong in this text?)


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