One of the most common genres in all disciplines and professions is the review (also sometimes called a critique, commentary, or response). It can take many forms. Critical book reviews are just one example. Others include
· editorials for general readers in response to a politician’s speech.
· a scholarly commentary for academic readers in response to a recently published journal article, with the commentary usually published in a subsequent issue of the same journal.
· a review for general readers of a book, web site, museum exhibit, theatrical or musical performance, poetry reading, film, sports event, etc.
· a review for general readers of a specific product or service, e.g., a new cell phone or computer, a new model of automobile, a new restaurant, etc.
· an internal or external evaluation written for a specific organization to assess the effectiveness of a new policy or procedure the organization has implemented. (Internal evaluation reports are written by people within the organization, while external evaluation reports written by consultants, government inspectors, or some other oversight agency.)
· an evaluation of a report released by some other organization, e.g., a response by the American Medical Association to an FDA report on the dangers to public health of a particular sugar substitute, or a response from university-based agricultural researchers to a Green Peace report on the destructive environmental practices of agri-businesses. These types of response reports are common in corporate settings, non-profit organizations, watchdog organizations, political think tanks, colleges and universities, etc.
In your evaluation, you should describe fairly and accurately whatever you are evaluating; the level of detail in your description depends on the rhetorical situation (i.e., who you’re writing for, when, and why). You should identify and analyze the relevant strengths and weaknesses of whatever it is you are evaluating; depending on your topic, you might need to state explicitly the criteria for evaluation. All your evaluative claims must be supported by facts, informed opinion from credible sources, or your own reasoning. In other words, you must construct an argument to support your claims about the merits (and/or lack thereof) of whatever it is you are evaluating.
NOTE: If you choose to evaluate a nonfiction book, article, or web site, keep in mind that this assignment is not the same as the two assignments in ENG 101 online that require students to reflect on and respond to a nonfiction article and then to analyze the rhetorical strategies used in another nonfiction article. For Assignment 1 in ENG 101, students are asked to respond to some specific trigger in an article; they are not asked to necessarily agree or disagree with the author or to evaluate the cogency of the author’s argument. For Assignment 2, students are asked to only analyze the rhetoric used in an article and to decide whether it was probably appropriate and effective for the intended readers of the article; in that assignment, students are not supposed to agree or disagree with the author of the article and are not supposed to argue the issue. However, in our A4, if you choose to evaluate a nonfiction book or article, you will need to agree and/or disagree with the author, and in doing so, you might also need to critique the author’s rhetorical strategies, especially the author’s facts (or his/her interpretation of facts), reasoning, and underlying values.
1. In TMHG, read Chapter 10, “Writing to Evaluate.”
2. Write a 1,250 – 1,500 evaluation ofa specific book, film, television show, product, service, policy, procedure, exhibit, lecture, restaurant, concert, sports event, or some other special public event you recently attended or place you recently visited.
3. Outside sources are not required for this assignment, but if you feel it necessary to draw on additional outside sources to support your own ideas, then use a combination of summary, paraphrase, and quotation from your sources, but no more than 10% (125-150 words) of the proposal should consist of quoted material. Instead, rely on summary and paraphrase. And as you should have learned in ENG 101, all information from sources—whether quoted, paraphrased, or summarized, whether words or images—must be cited. Keep in mind, though, that your voice, not your sources’, should be most prominent in your review.
4. Format your evaluation in a way that is appropriate for your intended audience and purpose. This assignment could take a form different from a traditional school “paper,” e.g., a blog essay, an review in a newspaper or magazine (whether hard copy or online), a formal workplace report, etc. Whatever final format it might take, develop the text for the peer draft as a print document.
See TMHG, Part Five, Chapter 17, “Choosing a Medium, Genre, and Technology for Your Communication.”
Your peers and I will help you decide on an appropriate format, depending on what you see as your purpose and intended audience.
5. Include any appropriate visuals that will enhance the effectiveness of your report. Use of visuals in this assignment is optional, and visuals might not count toward the total word count for the assignment; it will depend on what kinds of visuals you use and whether you created them yourself or borrowed them. All borrowed visuals must be cited. Do not include gratuitous visuals, such as clip art; include only visuals that readers will find useful in understanding your critique.
See TMGH, Part Five, Chapter 18, “Communicating with Design and Visuals”; and the e-handbook, Part 1, Chapter 4, “Drafting Paragraphs and Visuals.”
6. Cite any sources using MLA, APA, or Chicago citation style.
See TMHG, Chapter 20, “Synthesizing and Documenting Sources,” and e-handbook, Part 4, Chapters 23 -26.
7. Give your review a title that will be effective and appropriate for the intended audience and purpose. Select a specific audience and purpose for your critique, and write this at the top of your paper so your peer reviewers and instructor will know.
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