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Classics 320
Fall 1995
L. Doherty
(First draft due Nov. 8; final draft due Nov. 13)

You will have a choice among four brief articles to critique (see list on p. 2). These articles will be on reserve in Hornbake Library; you may read several before choosing one. Please then make a copy for yourself of the article you select, and return the original so that your classmates may use it also.
Your critique should be between five and seven pages (no longer, please), and it should contain the following:

1) A brief re-statement, in your own words, of the author's main points as you understand them. This part of the paper should not be longer than a paragraph or two--include only the main points of the article.

2) A description of what you take to be the author's point of view. What is her or his attitude toward the material? Can you detect a tone and/or a set of values (moral, social, political, or academic) in the article? Be sure to point out some words, phrases, or sentences that reveal the author's attitude. Feel free to express your own agreement or disagreement with this attitude.

3) An evaluation of the author's argument, including his or her logic and use of evidence. Are there logical fallacies or inconsistencies in the argument? Do the author's points seem to be based on adequate evidence? Obviously, I cannot expect you to be an expert on the topic; you will not be in a position to evaluate all the evidence presented. But you can identify inconsistencies or gaps in the argument, and point out statements for which no evidence is given; on the basis of class lectures and discussions, you can also raise questions about the author's interpretation of evidence. Are there possible alternative interpretations that need to be considered, or additional questions that need to be asked?

If you have not written many papers before, you may find the following "steps" useful. Feel free to ask me for further help if you need it.

1. Read the article carefully, several times, with the aims of your critique in mind. (You may wish to read it once for main points, once for point of view, and once for logic and use of evidence.) Be sure to look up words you do not understand; underline [in your own copy] words or sentences you can quote as evidence of attitude, faulty logic, etc.

2. Ask yourself the following questions; your answers will be your paper "in a nutshell":
a) What are the main points the author is making?
b) What is her or his attitude toward the material?
c) What problems, if any, can you find in the author's logic or use
of evidence?

3. Make an outline for your paper; in other words, arrange your conclusions in the order that seems best to you. (You do not have to follow the order in which I have listed the questions above, though your summary of the article will naturally come first. For example, you may find that (b) and (c) overlap - that the author's attitude causes him/her to neglect or stretch some evidence.)

4. Write a first draft of the paper. As you go through your outline, try to give reasons for each of your conclusions, and quote brief statements from the article as evidence when it seems appropriate. If you're not using a word processor, write on only one side of each page, so that you can cut and paste if you want to rearrange sentences or paragraphs. If you write in longhand, write as legibly as possible, and proofread before giving the draft to your writing partner to read. (If the first draft is very rough, do a second draft before exchanging with your partner.)

5. Exchange first drafts with your writing partner. Please be constructive in your criticism, with the sole aim of helping to make your partner's paper clear, "on target," and persuasive. (As examples, look at the comments I made on your own previous papers.)

6. In a second (or final) draft, correct as many as possible of the problems you and your partner have identified in the first draft.

7. Type the paper if you have not already done so; then be sure to PROOFREAD IT for mechanical errors. (If you are using a word processor, remember to proofread before printing.) Never underestimate the importance of proofreading! It's not just a "cosmetic" procedure; it can make the difference between a clear, persuasive paper and a garbled, incoherent one.

ARTICLES TO CHOOSE FROM (on reserve in Hornbake Library):
1) Butler, Samuel, excerpt from The Authoress of the Odyssey, 1897. Recommended only for those students who have read a substantial amount of the Odyssey in translation.

2) Elizabeth Barber, "Island Fever," in Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years:
Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times (New York: Norton & Co., 1994)

3) Marilyn Skinner, "Corinna of Tanagra and Her Audience," in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 2 (1983) 9-20.

4) Joseph Vogt, "Human Relationships in Ancient Slavery," in Ancient Society and the Ideal of Man, trans. Thomas Wiedemann (Harvard Univ. Press, 1975).

Please make your own copy of the article you choose, so that no article will be kept out of circulation and so that you can underline, etc.; do not make any marks on the library copy.

If you have found another article that you particularly want to critique, please check with me; it should be short (20 pp. max.) and have a perceptible point of view.