Idaho State University
Paper 2: Critique
Building upon our first few weeks of class, during which we practiced writing effective summaries that clearly and concisely explain the main points of a particular text, our recent sessions have been devoted to critique. A critique, as we’ve discussed, is an essay that both summarizes and evaluates a text or group of texts, as you not only explain what a particular work is about, but then evaluate two things: first, how well the author succeeds at achieving a particular purpose or goal, and second, whether or not you agree with the author’s position.
For this assignment, you will write a critique of either Martin E.P. Seligman, Acacia C. Parks, and Tracy Steen’s “A Balanced Psychology and a Full Life” (WRAC 538-543) or Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Finding Flow” (WRAC 544-8). Your critique should summarize, briefly, the text you’ve chosen, and include a detailed evaluation of its argument and your own responses to it (e.g., what you agree with and why, what you disagree with and why). Remember that you must provide reasons for your responses to the text – that is, you must quote the text at several points in order to support your arguments with evidence – and that you should be clear about your own assumptions and how they lead you to these conclusions.
Things to Keep in Mind
When writing your critique, try to follow the guidelines provided in our textbook (see WRAC 68 for more detail). Every critique should include five essential elements:
· Introduction: introduce the text you’re critiquing and its main arguments. You might also provide some background on the major issues of the text (e.g., the importance of happiness in a complex society).
· Summary: summarize the main points of the text in greater detail, and make sure to say something about the author’s assumptions and larger purpose in writing the piece.
· Assessment of the presentation: evaluate the presentation of the argument (not necessarily the content of the argument). Does the author present his or her information clearly and accurately, with logical argumentation and a clear sense of key terms?
· Response to the presentation: explain your response to the text. What parts of it do you agree with, and why? What parts do you disagree with, and why? Provide evidence to support your positions, and don’t just rely on your own experience (for example, saying “I’m happy, so everyone else should be too,” is not a convincing statement, since it’s anecdotal and can’t be true of everyone).
· Conclusion: provide a brief conclusion that states, clearly and concisely, your overall assessment of the text. Think holistically here – rather than focusing on specific parts of the author’s work, discuss the text’s merits as a whole.
While you might deviate slightly from this rubric in terms of organization, and while you might focus on some of these elements more than others, all critiques should include all five elements.
Papers should be 3-4 full pages long (no less, and not significantly more), typed in 12-point, Times New Roman font, and double-spaced. All papers must include a list of works cited, and all in-text citations should be provided in MLA format.
All papers must be submitted to Moodle by 1pm on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
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