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A1: Critique of an Argument (3 pages plus a Work Cited page; 50 points)
ENG 1520: College Composition II
Purpose: Persuade
Skills: Summary, quote, critique, work cited development
Task: Evaluate a text to determine if it is effective or not (does it achieve its goal?)
using the principles of critique as discussed in your course as the basis for your
critique. You may choose to critique the work based on the list of critical elements
or you may approach this as a rhetorical analysis that applies the rhetorical
Special Requirements: You should choose one of the text from the Reading
folder to work with for this assignment.
Use three direct quotes from one text (with in-text citations and works cited
page) to support your claims.
The focus of this essay is the text you’ve chosen from the list above. You should
NOT conduct outside research. Keep your analysis focused on that text, not outside
Once you have chosen your text, evaluate the argument (or informative text) based
on the principles of critique. Begin by asking yourself: what is the author’s purpose?
Then assess that purpose using the principles of critique to determine the answer to
the question: is the author effective or ineffective in their attempt to achieve their
**You are not giving your opinion on the subject matter. You are critically thinking
about the techniques an author uses to develop his or her text. These techniques
include how an author: defines his or her key terms, uses the information in his or
her text, and uses logic; is the logic in the text false logic or solid logic? Or, if the
text is informative, you would look at the author’s accuracy of information, fair
interpretation of that information, and significance.**
Creating a Thesis Statement
A sample thesis statement should indicate to the reader your stance and the criteria
you will examine in the order which you will discuss them.
A thesis statement should not look like this: In this essay I will tell you why the
author’s technique is ineffective. I will talk about his argumentative style.
To create your thesis statement, you will have to answer three questions:
1) What is the purpose of this essay?
2) How does this author attempt to reach his or her goal?
3) Is this author effective in their attempt?
A sample thesis should list the three criteria and your claim.
(“Title”) is an effective essay because X, Y, and Z.
(If you refer to the thesis statement, this would criterion X)
*Here are two sample formats. Try your best to create your own thesis, stylistically.
A completed thesis statement might look like this: Despite the fact that the author
uses several logical fallacies, the author’s use of clearly defined terms and fair use
of information make this an effective argument (please do not use this exact model
for your thesis because that would be plagiarism).
Here you can see that there is one criterion that is not working (logic), but because
the author uses two of the criteria well (definition and fair use of info) the essay it
ultimately effective.
If you have three criteria (which you do) and two out of three work, then the text is
probably effective. If two out of three don’t work, the text is probably ineffective.
Consider that in previous weeks we have talked about how in order to critique a
text we must begin by giving an overview of that text (a summary). Also consider
that in the introduction of a summary you are expected to give information about
the source and the author before getting to the thesis. This would be a good
technique for opening this essay as well. Here is a general outline to get you
started as you begin to draft this essay (see “Guidelines for Writing Critiques” from
the Writing a Critique folder)
Remember to introduce the text and provide some context for the
Thesis statement
Example: (Author)’s use of X, Y, and Z make it an ineffective
persuasive text.
Remember to use transitional phrases when working with your
summary. Example: The author begins his essay by… He concludes with….
Also remember that a summary begins with a signal phrase and ends
with a parenthetical citation.
Analysis/Evaluation Technique 1 (If you refer to the thesis statement, this
would criterion X)
Analysis/Evaluation Technique 2 (If you refer to the thesis statement, this
would criterion Y)
Analysis/Evaluation Technique 3 (If you refer to the thesis statement, this
would criterion Z)
Paraphrase thesis
Summarize key points
Discuss significance
In addition to typing this essay and setting it up in MLA format, I would like you to
do the following:
✓ Each paragraph should have a strong claim/topic sentences that utilizes
✓ Use at least 3 direct quotes over the entire essay, not per paragraph (not
paraphrases or indirect quotes)
✓ Your quotes should have lead-ins (signal phrases) and correct citation
✓ Your summary should focus on main points, should be written in present
tense and be objective
✓ You may use no more than 5 direct quotes total; if you use more than this,
you are probably relying too much on the text and not enough on your own
✓ Include a Work Cited page
✓ Come up with an interesting title; Assignment 1 does not tell me what the
paper is about

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