Please submit your draft before class on Monday.   Critical Analysis Essay * (Writing Assignment #3.  125 pts) A criti

Please submit your draft before class on Monday.

 

Critical Analysis Essay * (Writing Assignment #3.  125 pts)

A critical analysis paper asks the writer to make an argument about a particular book, essay, movie, etc. The goal is twofold: one, identify and explain the argument that the author is making, and two, provide your own argument about that argument. One of the key directions of these assignments is often to avoid/minimize summary – you are not writing a book report, but evaluating the author’s argument.

 

What might you analyze and respond to?  What are the potential points of criticism?  Or how or why is the author’s work important? 

Sometimes it can seem intimidating to “criticize” a book or article; after all, they may be written by, professors,  policymakers, keaders, or experts. However, part of this exercise is to expose the fact that even though these authors are highly qualified, they are still advancing an argument and providing evidence–their aim is to persuade you that their argument is true, not to just present facts. Once you recognize that these authors are making arguments, you can analyze whether or not you find their argument compelling.

The following are some possible questions you could ask to develop your analytical discussion. 

  • Questions about the author’s main points and purpose for writing: Are the author’s arguments valid and important?  Why?  Are you persuaded by the author’s evidence and discussion?  Why or why not?  Is the author biased?  If so, what are the possible effects of the bias?  Has the author made a particularly important contribution to our understanding of the topic?  If so, what is it, how did the author do it, and why is it important?
  • Definitional questions – Are all the concepts in the text clear? Does the author define a concept vaguely? Has the author failed to be convincing?  Can the author’s discussion be extended to another context or related issue, and if so, what is that other context/issue?  How does the author’s work help us think about the other context/issue?

· Evidence questions:

  • Does the author’s evidence support their argument? Do they have enough specific evidence to prove the more general point?
  • Does the author underemphasize or ignore evidence that is contrary to their argument?
  • Is the evidence credible? Can you identify a bias in the evidence?
  • Implication/Policy relevance questions – What are the implications of the author’s principal argument? Are those implications positive or negative? How has the author dealt with this issue?  What possible actions or policies need to be implemented?

 

Reminder that you will need to support your claim.  If you think the author has failed to be persuasive, you must provide evidence.  If your focus is to discuss why the analysis is important, you must provide compelling reasons to support that claim. 

*Adopted from J.L. Beyer, “Critically Analyzing an Academic Article or Book”

 

Structuring a Critical Analysis Paper

Most critical analysis papers begin with a short summary of the work and then dive in to the argument/discussion. Since most of these paper assignments are short, it is important to be concise in all parts of your  analysis. Writing an outline (and following it) is crucial to remain focused and avoid summary or irrelevant description. Following is a sample outline for a critical analysis paper:

  1. Introduction
    1. Identify the work being criticized
    2. Provide background information about the topic under review
    3. Present thesis – the focus of your critical analysis
  2. Short summary of the work
    1. Does not need to be comprehensive – present only what the reader needs to know to understand your argument. I am calling it an “argument” because you are persuading the reader of the validity of your analysis—that what you have to say is important.
  3. Your argument (You are trying to persuade us that point you’re making in your critical response is important and valid. Support your claim with evidence and discussion)
  4. Conclusion
    1. Reflect on how you have proven your
    2. Point out the importance of your argument
    3. Note potential avenues for additional research or analysis or make a prediction or a suggestion

 

Final Reminders

  • Even though you are potentially only referring to one source, you still need to cite the article you are analyzing. We will review how to do citations.  You do not have to use external sources for your discussion, but you can if you’d like the challenge.
  • Review and revise your paper. Try to finish in enough time that you can visit the tutoring center

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