History (ALL CLASSES)
CRITIQUE AND REVIEW SHEET:
This is formal writing so remember a few tips:
1. Grammar/Spell Check all work. Rule of 5 is: more than 5 major grammatical or spelling
errors and I am done grading, you fail the assignment. Helpful hint: read finished document
aloud, or have someone read it to you. It will help you spot problems I promise!
2. No 1st person. “I believe that. . .” No use of “I” statements.
3. No questions. Do not write in such a way that you are asking your reader (your professor- ie
ME) questions. No contractions. Like “wasn’t, shouldn’t, can’t” etc.
4. All quotations, thoughts, and ideas gathered from another source should be cited. All cites should be either Chicago Styleor Turabian Style and have EITHER footnotes or endnotes, AND a bibliography.
5. Writing should be clear, concise, and on topic. It should address the following elements in an
essay style format:
Critiques and Reviews should always address these elements.
Synopsis: Summary of what you have read, making sure you hit the highlights and points that
struck you as important or interesting so that you will remember what you have read. This element should be very brief- do not get carried away. For the in class critical review a paragraph or two, for the JAR it should be about a page.
Thesis: (Thinkabout) Ask yourself, what did I just read? What was it about? What was the argument orposition, what did they say? The thesis is the main argument. It is a statement or group of statements that lay out what the author will argue. The statements should be contiguous. (This means all together- not jumping around.) Do not paraphrase, use a quotation and a citation. (EVERY TIME!)
*Hint for later: If you are reading a book then each chapter of the book will normally have a supporting thesis,please make sure you address these as well.
Facts: (Thinkabout) What struck you in the argument as particularly useful/not useful? There are two types of facts. The first type are the interesting facts. They go up into the synopsis. The second kind are facts that supports the thesis(or disproves the thesis.) These will be direct quotes that are cited. They do not stand alone. You must always relate these facts back to the thesis and show how they support (or not) the thesis. The easiest way is when you are reading, highlight or note your topic points- then use quotations to prove your point, be very specific so you will notneed to return to the author’s sources or the text.
Ok now you are done analyzing the actual text. Now you will analyze how the author is writing history.
Author: Who is this person? Remember there is NO such thing as a neutral author.How does the author/s identify themselves? How does this identification relate to thematerial? What kind of history does the author write? Does that have any bearing? Where does the author work or what country does he/she live? Does that matter? What kind of historian or academic is the author? Are they an expert? Is this a new field for them? How does this RELATE BACK TO THE WORK YOU ARE READING?
Position: What is the position within scholarly literature? (You may or may not know this- and that is ok.) What position do they take?(Are they for or against what they are writing about?) Do they seem similar tosomeone else you have read? Where do they stand on the issues? (Are they arguing that slavery was a good economic choice for Americans in the early 19th c. Are they white and from the south? Do you think that matters?) What identifiers can you find to help you get into the authors head? Can you determine bias? Look carefully at word selection, other publications, etc.
Critique: Who is the audience?(Helpful tip: it isn’t community college students.)Think about all the people who may research this topic- who could this possibly help? What is the purpose of the work (might relate back to thesis)? What does the author want the reader to believe? (Again relate it back!) Did the author accomplishwhat s/he set out to do? What is their goal in writing the paper?Also, when was the text written? Does this have any bearing on why the author may have written this piece? (Remember not to use first person, although you are infusing your opinion.)
Sources:Examine the author’s use of sources?How does the author use the sources they have, have they selected good sources, and are the sources the appropriate sources to answer the thesis? What kind of sources does the author use (be specific)? Primary? Secondary? Do the sources themselves reflectrecent scholarship?(If the work was done in 1995, remember it will be impossible for them to cite sources after 1995- so pay attention.) Is the author relying more heavily on one type of source? Primary or secondary sources? Is that relevant? What does the type of sources used say about the author and the work? Does it leave room for questions or does it plug all the holes? How does the author use primary and secondary sources to support the thesis?Be specific. Use citations to support your conclusions. If you are unclear on the thesis it will make this more difficult to answer. You will need to look at the bibliography, footnotes/endnotes, and the introduction andconclusion carefully to answer this.