Federalist Paper #48 Critical Review
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C. Critical Review of Federalist Papers (20%): Academic writing is an important part of your college life.
As the first step to have such a skill, you will write a critical review of the Federalist Papers. It is a collection
of articles written by our founding fathers about the Constitution (You can easily find them online. They are
everywhere). In your review, you will summarize and critically evaluate one of these articles: Federalist
Papers #2, #9, #10, #39, #48, and #51. It should be roughly singe-spaced 2 pages long. For deadline,
see below. Each paper is short. However, it might be challenging to be critical about it. First of all, all papers
are mostly about what we already have right now. So, being critical to the papers requires you to think
about something you take for granted for a long time. I mean the Constitution. Second, it is written in old
English. Plan to read ahead and re-read it for summary and take times to build your critical thoughts about
it. To be critical is not to have negative attitude. You should question the major argument, or information,
and make a case about why the argument is questionable. You have to clearly show the development of
your ideas.
The first step to have a good critical review is to read the text critically. In reading one of these great pieces
of writing, prepare a sheet of paper and try to write down your answer to the following questions. What is
the topic? Which aspect of the topic is discussed? What kind of question, or puzzle, does the author have in
mind? What makes the author so troubled to spend time and energy to answer the question? What is the
answer? Why does the author believe his/her argument or solution is right? What kind of evidence does
the author provide for you? After answering these questions, you are ready to provide a succinct summary
of what you read. Try to be simple as much as possible! Just allow one paragraph for this summary. Then,
try to think critically about the argument you just summarized. Do you think it is reasonable? Are they
logically sound? Do you think the author properly answered the question? What about the evidence
provided? Do they support the author’s claim? If you can say “No” to any of these questions, you just find
out the starting point of your critical review. Attack severely, but in a logical and positive way. Most part of
your writing should be about what is wrong with the author’s argument. For example, if you think the
argument is not sound, you need to friendly explain to me why it is so. You should show me the
development of your thoughts. If you think the evidence the author provided is not strong enough, you
need to explain why that is the case. You need to provide your own evidence why something is wrong with
the paper.
Some websites might be helpful for this task. You can easily find more.
UNSW: https://student.unsw.edu.au/writing-critical-review
UW-Madison: https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CriNonfiction.html
ANU: https://academicskills.anu.edu.au/resources/handouts/writing-critical-book-review
MIT: http://web.mit.edu/STS001/www/responsetips.pdf
Harvard: http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/strategies-essay-writing

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