To complete this assignment, you must first identify the text or author you will research; second, narrow your objectives by deciding on “what” aspect of the text you will focus, and third, come up with a guiding thesis or statement that you yourself want to make about the topic you have outlined (based on steps 1 and 2). With this general idea in mind, find one critical source, and write a 500–750-word, 2-3 page review.
As you read and annotate the source, take note of what the author’s main claims are, prioritize, and summarize them.
- Highlight some of the most important evidence the author offers to prove his or her main claims.
- Pay attention to topic sentences and repetition and try to determine when the author is introducing a new argument, and when s/he is simply providing examples or explaining the evidence he has offered.
- Sometimes an author might justify their article’s existence by explaining how it fits into a critical debate. You should take note of what the author thinks is the larger significance of his or her work.
One of the most common mistakes in analyses of critical texts is the false assumption that if you don’t understand the argument the first time you read it, it is either poorly written or uninteresting. Critical articles are mostly written for specialists in the field, so you can rightly, assume that they will be difficult, require at least a second reading, and contain jargon (specialized language) that is unfamiliar to you, but is part of the common knowledge of specialists). You will want to keep a dictionary (of literary terms) handy to help you. Similarly, the author will most likely make reference to works you have not read. You may find it useful to look up allusions or whole texts of poems as you are reading if you feel that the argument requires it. Here and ONLY here, might Wikipedia be acceptable.
All well-developed and articulated reviews
- SUMMARIZE the article’s purpose (e.g. to show…, to explain…, to prove…?)
- ANALYZE how the article presents its ideas: what theories or concepts does it rely on, explain, analyze, and/or employ?
- SYNTHESIZE the article’s relevance to our class readings. And finally, they
- EVALUATE the article’s effectiveness: do you “see” the writer’s point? I have included a more detailed handout mapping these processes.
This assignment takes time, so you should plan to do a little of it at a time. Your review will be evaluated based on three basic criteria: The clarity of your presentation, the degree to which your representation of the basic precepts (SUMMARY and ANALYSIS) and argument reveal your level of comprehension of the concepts (SYNTHESIS). Your assessment (EVALUATION) will also indicate your level of engagement with the concepts of the article and course more generally. The goal here is to make your reader understand the article and make a decision about how, or rather if, it can be useful for them.
Title all your Submitted Work: Be Original, Creative, and Thoughtful
1. All submission files should be named: LASTNAME.assignment Failure to do so will affect evaluation and result in a delay in grading and return of assignments.
2. You will create a 500-700-word review of an essay that you select from one of the databases reviewed in week 1. You will concisely offer a summary of the essay’s main points, and its points of analysis, and offer an evaluation of the essay’s overall impact on your understanding of its main subject (see content specifics above).
3. The review reflects your reading of the article, so will include the things that strike you as most significant about the essay. This should be a cohesive essay, no headings or topic breaks (see below)
4. Your abstract should be one paragraph, single-spaced, with a font no larger than 12pt.
5. A key strategy for producing an effective abstract is to annotate the essay as you read, which is standard practice for close reading in general.
6. Be sure to make use of all citation practices. Edit for clarity and precision. Proofread carefully.
7. Assignment begins with the citation of the text in MLA format. A wonderful website for details on MLA is http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/ or http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citmla.htm. Here, I am diverging from MLA and having you single-space your citation. Then double-space and begin your review essay. For visual aid, on the form only
Title: Be Original, Creative, and Thoughtful
Kester, Anilla Theander. Writing the Subject: Building the African American Text. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1997.
Kester gives two readings of duality. First, she explores the duality of being black and American, which relates to self-identity. As DuBois wrote in his Souls of Black Folk, “American” is an obviously white identity, or at least seems to have been so prior to slavery. So, the freed men and women, whom DuBois writes about, had to find a way to make “American” apply to their black experiences. In literature, this attempt is Kester’s “writing the subject” (2). Second, she shows how duality brings stress into the lives of African Americans because the two perspectives seem incompatible.
To develop her argument, she uses the narrator in Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man and Helga Crane in Quicksand. …
This recalls Kiese’s relationship with his mother. …
Overall, the chapter makes clear how …
I recommend Kester’s book for the way she maps the process of black American identity making, I find her argument most useful …
|Achievement Level||Knowledge and Understanding|
|Assignment Objectives: (1) develop your ability to critically read; (2) coherently summarize critical research material; (3) hone your analytical thinking skills (summary analysis synthesis evaluation) through close reading; (4) reflect analytical skills in writing through constructing evaluative arguments based on the basic components of research argument: claim, evidence, and warrants.|
|14-16.1||The student does not reach a standard described by any of the descriptors below.|
|16.2-18.2||The review shows a limited facility with critical close reading. The review demonstrates limited knowledge and understanding of the elements of research and analysis. The review is heavily summary/description with limited analysis and/or synthesis. Unclear or ineffective presentation/writing style which distracts from or disrupts evaluative aims.|
|18.3-20.4||Review shows basic ability in critical close reading. The review demonstrates satisfactory knowledge and understanding of the elements of research and analysis. Weak analysis and/or synthesis of the article’s components. Evidences a basic understanding of the article’s precepts but unclear or limited synthesis and/or evaluation.|
|20.5-22.7||The review shows active level of close reading. The review demonstrates a commendable understanding of the elements of research and analysis. The reviewer effectively employs their understanding of the article’s precepts to provide a commendable review with a clear evaluative aim/objective. The writing and presentation make for ease of comprehension and correspond with the level of interpretive engagement.|
|22.8-25||The review shows mastery of close reading strategies. The reviewer expertly organizes the elements of research and the article’s analysis. The review ventures from the basic, obvious synthesis to provide unique insight into some aspect or approach to the critical subject of the selected research. The review shows mastery of the interpretive and representational quality of research and analysis, providing an excellent example of evaluation-driven analysis, quality presentation, and effective argument. The writing and presentation style is clear and effective.|
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