Notes on Critique - 1
Lecture on Critique
In writing a critique, you will use many of the same analytical skills that you used in
your rhetorical analysis essay. The main difference between your rhetorical analysis
assignment and the critique is the way in which you will be expected to evaluate the
logic of the article you are commenting on. In the critique, you will not only evaluate how
well the strategies the author uses to convey his or her argument serve their purpose,
as you did in the
rhetorical analysis, but you will also evaluate the author's purpose
itself, considering whether this objective, and the argument supporting it, makes sense.
Whereas in the rhetorical analysis, the final basis of evaluation was the author's goal, in
the critique, the basic standard of judgement is your own point of view: your informed
perspective on whether this goal, and the means used to achieve it, are logically valid.
The critique assignment, then, differs somewhat from your previous essays in that
you will be required to present and support "your own ideas"
or point of view on the
issues the author discusses. At the same time, though, it builds on these earlier
assignments insofar as your point of view should be an informed and logically
supportable one that takes into account and is situated among the perspectives of other
writers. It is important when presenting your point of view that you position it in relation
to the ideas of the author you are critiquing, acknowledging and analyzing his or her
claims and supporting arguments, observing their strengths and potential weakness,
and explaining where and how you differ. Taking this approach will enable your own
perspective to appear not as a crude, merely personal opinion held in ignorance or
stubborn defiance of other views on the issue, but as a thoughtful, considered position
that acknowledges the finer points that make up the debate.
An important question to ask—and answer—when writing your critique, then, is
whether or not you agree with, or are convinced by, the perspective or argument the
author of the article you are discussing makes. An even more important question to ask
and answer, though, is why you are or are not convinced. To answer this second
question, you must look closely at exactly how the author makes and supports his or her
points—in effect, do a rhetorical analysis of the essay—and figure out precisely what is
or is not working for you. Is the author pulling at your heart-strings with highly emotional,