Critical Essay Evaluation Assignment
Prompt: This assignment is designed to help you evaluate a critical essay or piece of research you might incorporate into an essay to support your own argument. It will help you differentiate between summary and analysis, as well as to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and underlying assumptions of someone else’s argument.
Text to Use:David Gratz’s “Oates’s WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”
How To Structure Your Paper
- Your first paragraph must introduce the writer’s main argument and summarize the approach the author takes to the short story. Identify the writer’s thesis, and what conversation the writer is either entering (agreeing with) or responding to (disagreeing/complicating). One way to begin is to ask: “So what?” What is this article trying to do or prove?
Summary: Articulate the writer’s thesis or main argument, and discuss his key points of evidence (this should take up no more than one paragraph).
- Your second and third paragraphs should begin to critique the author’s argument. A critique is a detailed analysis and assessment. First, evaluate how effectively (or ineffectively) the author carries out this argument. Then, look at the passages the author is quoting from and how he uses these quotations to support the argument. Do you think it’s a strong, fully-supported argument? Or can you find holes in the assumptions the author makes or other evidence from the short story that would have made the argument stronger? Do you agree with the interpretations the author makes? Do you think other passages from the short story might lead to a different conclusion? Is there enough evidence or are you left unconvinced?
Evaluate the strengths and/or weaknesses of the article (this should take up the majority of your paper). Remember to make sure you focus on the article and not the short story. Assume your reader has read the short story but not the article.
III. In your final paragraph, you want to zoom out somewhat toreflect on the larger picture of your critique. Ask yourself: “What are the assumptions in this article?” Then, ask yourself if you agree with these assumptions or if you think there is something the writer hasn’t considered. What would you offer that the writer left out? What angle is most important to you? Remember, it can’t be all that bad: there must be some value to the article. Even though you just dismantled it in your critique, remind your reader what is to be found in the article that might be useful. A concluding sentence might begin with praise and end with a phrase that sums up your problem with the article. This sentence might look something like this: “Gratz offers _______________, but I would have liked to see more consideration of ______________________.”
Note: Since your evaluation is only 2-3 pages, I don’t expect you to analyze every detail of the article.
Formatting: All assignments should be double-spaced with one-inch margins, typed in Times New Roman 12-point font, proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, and formatted according to MLA style. See Purdue University’s Online MLA Formatting and Style Guide for examples: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
Grading: Assignments will be graded based on how well you follow the format of the assignment. The majority of your paper should be focused on analysis. Remember that you are critiquing the author’s argument, not the short story itself. Strong assignments will display sound reasoning, logic, organization, and mechanics.