No room at the Inn 2002 Yasmin ALiBHAI-BROWN


WRITING 102 Writing a critical response to an argument

For all our Critical Response papers this semester, you should be able to write a well-developed and carefully constructed essay of 700 words in which you will analyze the effectiveness of a piece of writing that I assign to you.

In the essays you should address each of the following topics:

A brief introduction to the article: when was the article written and published, where was it
published first, other articles written by the author, perhaps on the same topic, why is the subject
relevant, etc. (contextualizing)

1. What is the author’s purpose in writing this piece? Did he/she succeed in this purpose? Who did the author expect would read this piece?
2. What is the thesis or main idea of the essay?
a. Are all the reasons given by the author relevant?

3. Briefly summarize the essay under discussion.

4. Is the argument sound?
a. Is there enough evidence given to make this determination?
b. If examples are given for support, are they specific?
c. If an “authority” is cited, is it a legitimate authority? Is it a biased authority?
d. Has the author defined terms clearly?
e. Has the author used and interpreted information fairly?
5. Does the author acknowledge the counter-argument?
a. Does the essay treat the ‘other side’ fairly?
b. If the author does recognize the opposing position, does he/she adequately explain that viewpoint?
c. Analyze the author’s word choice: how do specific words in the essay influence the argument?

6. How do you respond to the author’s views?
a. Which views do you agree with?
b. Which views do you disagree with?
c. Discuss your reasons for agreement and disagreement

7. State your conclusions about the overall validity of the piece
a. What is your assessment of the author’s success in achieving his/her aims?
b. What are your reactions to the author’s views?
c. Remind the reader of the weaknesses and strengths of the essay.

Dahan WRI 102 2009
Borrowed from Sayed & Gandhi

The purpose of the essay is to provide a thorough analysis of the author’s work. The audience would be someone in our class or another university student. In other words, you are trying to show your audience how the author’s essay is effective or not and why or why not.

You should focus on the effectiveness of the writer’s argument, not your opinion on the subject matter.

In order for your essay to be successful, it should meet the following guidelines:

• Conform to APA guidelines
• Have a clear, well-developed and thought-provoking thesis
• Be organized logically and coherently
• Avoid using first- and second-person pronouns (I, you, me, we, us, our, etc.)
• Utilize smooth transitions between paragraphs
• Be sure to offer your own original ideas
• If you use other people’s ideas be sure to cite them correctly
• Be relatively free of mechanical and grammatical errors

Dahan WRI 102 2014
Borrowed from Sayed & Gandhi


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