This assignment is a formal 1000-word essay in which you use your critical thinking skills to evaluate the argument of a op-ed (opinion) piece in a major newspaper or magazine.
Your essay will be an assessment of what the author is trying to achieve, which strategies s/he is using to attain this end, and the effectiveness of those strategies. This will involve identifying the purpose and audience of the piece and then analysing the piece with respect to elements of argument we have discussed in class: structure, evidence, assumptions, and language. You should focus on only one or two of these elements;
don’t try to cover everything! (At the same time you should bear in mind that all of these elements work together to achieve the overall effect.)
Remember that you are critiquing the text itself, not the topic it addresses. And note that the word “critiquing” does not mean that your essay must be negative: you may want to argue, for example, why the strategies employed are particularly effective.
In your introduction you should do the following:
Briefly identify the article: title, source, author
Summarise its argument in no more than 2-3 sentences
Identify the element(s) you will discuss
Briefly suggest your evaluation of the argument’s effectiveness (optional)
It is in the thesis statement that you will identify the element(s) and possibly the evaluation. The thesis will determine the structure of your essay; in other words, do not simply work your way through the article as it is written. Make sure that each paragraph is unified: that is, you should have one main idea per paragraph. In your conclusion you will summarise the preceding paragraphs, weighing the text’s strengths and weaknesses to arrive at an overall assessment of the piece.
A few technical points. The first time you refer to the author, use the full name; after that, you can use the last name only. After using a quotation, put the paragraph number in parentheses: eg. (para. 5). You don’t need to quote a large section of text: quote just enough that I know which part of the essay you’re discussing. Simply use ellipses (…) to indicate the missing portion(s). The article should be cited in the bibliography using the following format:
Last name, First name. “Title.” (Year, Month Date). Retrieved [date] from [Newspaper]: URL.
The article you choose can be written about any subject and with any tone. But it should be signed with an author’s name and put forward a clear argument. Here are some places to look for articles: