Unit 2: Review Essay (last updated 10/10/17)
In this unit, you will incorporate critical reading and response strategies into your writing repertoire. By wrestling with complex ideas presented in an article, text, object, or subject, analyzing specialized language, pulling out details, and mapping an argument, you will fully engage with a text/object/subject and discover how reading critically and carefully can help you to more fully understand any text but especially a review or a critique.
For this essay, you need to carefully read and understand a specific text. Don’t worry if at first the text seems difficult or overwhelming. You and your peers will read, analyze, reread, and discuss each other’s texts multiple times in the class.
Keep in mind the characteristics of successful reviews that are described in our textbook (see page 302 in EA):
Par. 4 Revised: You will write a review of the text/object/subject of your choice (something you feel familiar with like a comic book, a movie, a phone or car) by summarizing and analyzing a text/object/subject using your own expertise and research, and your own judgements supported with reasons and detailed evidence. Your purpose here is not to show both the positive and negative of an author/director/creator’s work in an unbiased way. Rather, your purpose is to use careful analytical strategies to understand what the text or object is trying to convey to the audience, and to show if it works or doesn’t work (or what parts work, and what parts don’t work). What excites and what disappoints? How is the author/director/creator trying to convince you that their take on that genre (movie, book, car) is worth your time and money, and perhaps your admiration, or have they created something that doesn’t work based on your own criteria and reasoning? How did this text fail?
To help you begin, say, a movie review, consider how you would describe the plot (Freytag's Triangle) of a movie when you really liked it and want to convince all of your friends to go see it immediately. What about character-based vs. plot-based? What about realism vs. magical realism? What about satire vs. absurdity? What about Frey's mythoi? How does the style and tone of your description change if you hated the movie?
Style and Format
The style and format of this assignment will vary depending on your audience, but it is meant to show your reader that you fully understand the content of a text/object. Feel free to play with the tone of your essay, make your response fun to read by going beyond a regurgitation of the text/object for this assignment. Consider how you want the reader to feel about the text/object. For example, if you want to motivate the reader to read the text or watch the movie, you will probably use language that is more positive and playful than if you wanted your reader to avoid the text/object. Keep in mind the playfulness and sarcastic attitude of the professional Rotten Tomatoes reviewers we looked at in class.
You should include a clearly stated, cohesive argument. Your essay should also include a strong thesis statement, clear and thoughtful reasoning, and appropriate evidence to support your claims while also offering an accurate and fair analysis of the text/object community. As always, include appropriate in-text citations (you should have 3-4 sources for your essay). Keep in mind that in order to project authority, you want to show that you understand the complexity of the text/movie/object that is being reviewed, something that we hope you have somewhat stronger feelings about in a positive or negative way (keeping in mind the need for fairness).
Requirements: 1200-1800 words (4-6 pages, double space, approximately), with 3-4 sources, MLA in-text citations and a works cited final page. Format the whole essay using MLA formatting rules.
The audience for this paper will be those who are interested in your review because they want to watch or use that text/object. They are readers, and can include your instructor and your fellow classmates. One reason for writing to such a specific audience is to begin breaking the habit of writing to some vague, objective audience who may or may not care about your topic. Instead, approach this paper in a way that helps us (the readers) get to know you better. Don't be afraid to show us some of your personality. For this essay, then, you may write in a more informal style that is distinctly your own—just make sure that you’re communicating clearly.
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