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essay critique

Essay 2: Critique

Assignment Prompt: Write a formal critiqueof ONE of the following essays: 

  • by Jill Lepore
  • The thesis for this critique must say to what extent the author succeeds or does not succeed in realizing his or her message and purpose of informing, persuading, or entertaining. Include how or why points in your thesis are true and significant. Doing so makes your thesis more assertive.

    Word Count

    Write 1,200 words. Stay within 25 words of 1,200. Word count does NOT include headers, title, or Works Cited page.

    One-on-One Writing Help

    • Work with online tutors through Santa Fe College's Learning Commons. The director of the Learning Commons encourages students to begin working with tutors early in the writing process. The Learning Commons link is located in the class navigation list.
    • Send rough drafts to Smarthinking Online Tutoring. Smarthinking is another resource provided by Santa Fe. The Smarthinking link is located in the class navigation list.
    • Ask questions during online office hours.

    Study the readings that are located under Readings and Resources in weekly modules.

    Organization

    Organize your critique into the following five sections:

    1. Introduction. Place your thesis as the last sentence in your introduction. Do not say in your introduction or your thesis whether you agree or disagree with the source essay's thesis. One paragraph.
    2. Summary. What are the thesis and supporting ideas of the source essay?  One paragraph.
    3. Assessment of the source essay. How effectively does the source essay achieve the author's purpose? One paragraph.
    4. Your response to the presentation. Here, say to what extent you agree or disagree with the author and why. Use "I" sparingly, if at all. One or two paragraphs.
    5. Conclusion. Do not write "in conclusion." Instead, begin the conclusion in an interesting way that connects to the main point of your critique. One paragraph.

    Content Development

    To develop content for critique, students should consider the following brainstorming questions:

    1. What is the author’s purpose? Is she or he trying to inform, persuade, or entertain? How can you tell? Note the places in the source text that show the author's purpose.
    2. To what extent does the author succeed in realizing that purpose? What means does she or he use? Consider the author’s rhetoric.
    3. How is the argument structured? 
    4. What assumptions does the author make?
    5. To what extent do you agree—or disagree—with the author? Why?
    6. What assumptions are you making? State them clearly.

    Context and Purpose: The audience for this critique are people who have not read the source essay yet but who are interested to read a detailed evaluation of its ideas.  The critique will help shape how the audience thinks about the source essay and its subject.  Writing a critique is important to help people articulate their response to someone else’s ideas.

    Genre and Disciplinary Conventions: Use MLA format and in-text citations throughout your manuscript and include an MLA Works Cited page. Every quotation and paraphrase should include a signal phrase. They should also have an MLA in-text citation (unless the source is on-line and unpaginated).

    Students find two outside sources to quote and paraphrase as evidence in support of their critique. Do not use Wikipedia as an outside source. One source must be from the databases at Santa Fe College's library. These two sources must be about the content. The critical analysis must come from your own thoughts.

    Please note that up to 10 points may be deducted from the overall essay grade for not posting rough drafts on time or not participating in peer review according to peer review directions.

    Essays may be submitted up to two days after the due dateTen points are deducted for each day.

    Guidelines and Requirements

    1. Follow ALL directions.
    2. Write 1,200 words.
    3. Present your essay in MLA manuscript format. Essays without correct MLA paper format may earn up to 15 fewer points.
    4. Give your essay an interesting and original title.
    5. Introduction. Create a first sentence that catches a reader's attention. Introduce the author with his or her full name, the title of the essay, and the author's thesis. Include information on where and when the source essay was drafted. Place your thesis at the end of the introduction. Write eight sentences, including your thesis.
    6. Thesis. Form a one-sentence thesisthat is assertive, specific, and responsive to the prompt. Remember that the thesis should not be an announcement, a list, a statement of fact, or a question. Place thesis as the last sentence of the introduction
    7. Summary. Follow the Academic Summary Template. Since the author has been introduced, include his or her last name only in the topic sentence. Also include the title of the source essay and a paraphrase of the author's thesis. 
    8. Write assertive topic sentences that support the thesis in content and organization. Place a topic sentence as the first sentence of each body paragraph. Consider a topic sentence as a mini-thesis for a paragraph. Boldface thesis and topic sentences for identification in class work and the final essay.
    9. Develop body paragraphs that are unified and coherent. Begin with an assertive topic sentence. In the middle of the paragraph offer evidence that supports the topic sentence. Integrate quotations and paraphrases into your text with signal phrases and in-text citations. Finish the paragraph with a concluding sentence. (Do not say in conclusion or in summary or similar things.) A well-developed paragraph is usually eight sentences
    10. Avoid ellipses when possible. Do notplace ellipses at the beginning or end of a quotation. Do not use block quotations.
    11. Include paraphrases and two quotationsfrom the source essay in the assessment and response to presentation paragraphs. Choose the best sentence or partial sentence for each quotation to integrate into the paragraph. (Sentences should read correctly with the quotation included. Avoid quotations of only one or two words.
    12. Find two outside sources to quote and paraphrase as evidence in support of the critique. One source must be from the databases at Santa Fe College's library. In the essay, include a total of three to five quotations from these additional sources. Do NOT use Wikipedia as an outside source. The Norton Field Guide is also not considered an outside source.
    13. Before including a first quotation or paraphraseintroduce each outside source with an author's full name, the title of essay or article, an explanation of the author's authority, and a one-or-two-sentence summary of the source. Do these things before quoting or paraphrasing the source, to prepare the reader by giving context to the new information.
    14. ALL sources must be documented in MLA style with signal phrases, in-text citations, and Works Cited page. Missing or incorrect documentation may result in a failing grade.
    15. Use academic writing style
    16. Proofread. Produce an essay that is substantially free of major errors of standard written English. Essays with numerous errors may earn a failing grade.

    MLA style is explained in Chapter 54 of the Norton Field Guide to Writing. In the fifth edition with 2021 MLA updates, this chapter is on pages 548-596.

    MLA Manuscript Format 

    Final drafts of essays should be presented in MLA manuscript format. This format is explained on pages 587-589.  A sample essay in correct MLA manuscript format appears on pages 590-596. Study this example and make your essay look the way it does.

    MLA Documentation

    In MLA style, sources are documented in a system that consists of signal phrases, in-text citations, and Works Cited page.

    Signal phrases are explained on pages 535-537. Study these pages carefully to learn how to use signal phrases correctly.

    In-text citations are explained starting on page 551. On page 552 pay attention to item #1: Author named in a signal phrase. Also study #9 (Work in an anthology) on page 555and #15 (Source quoted in another source) on page 556.

    Works Cited entries are explained on pages 558-561. Read and study these pages to learn the basics. Then, depending on the type of source you are documenting, refer to the following templates:

    • For online essays, the template for correct documentation is #31 on page 578. Replace the information in the example with the information from the source essay that you are documenting.
    • For essays printed in The Norton Field Guide, the templates are #19 on page 574 (Work in an anthology) and #24, on page 576 (Edition other than the first). Include the edition of The Norton Field Guide.  The eBook version has the same page numbers as the printed book.

    Do NOT rely on so-called automatic citation generators, such as EasyBib; They often produce citations that contain errors. Learn the style for yourself with the help of Chapter 54.

    Please let me know if you have questions!


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