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Session #5 – Critical Analysis & Writing PA Writing.

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1 Session #5 – Critical Analysis & Writing PA Writing

2 What we worked on yesterday Thesis: What a working thesis is and how it can be a tool in academic writing What makes a thesis strong What role the thesis plays throughout the paper structurally Some reasons why theses do or don’t work Style What is plagiarism? What is good style? Style affects the quality of your ideas and how well they are communicated. Strategies for revising your work - how structural elements and writing style impact the communication of your argument. Important style rules to remember. Recommendation: William Strunk and E.B. white’s, The Elements of Style

3 Today we’ll look at: What does it mean to be critical? Explaining, finding flaws, providing reasons Forming opinions, criticizing arguments Examples of critical analysis in popular culture What kinds of questions should we be asking when we read, watch and listen? **Through the session we’ll be drawing on content from the book ‘Writing Analytically’ by Rosenwasser, Stephen and Babington

4 What is “analysis”?

5 Analysis (In this section we’ll be drawing on content from the book ‘Writing Analytically’ by Rosenwasser, Stephen and Babington) “Writing provides a method for expanding our ability to notice things, to have ideas about what we notice, and to arrive ultimately at some plausible interpretation.” “Writing analytically can make you smarter. It can get you beyond thinking that what things mean is simply a matter of opinion. It can help you understand and synthesize other people’s ideas en route to ideas of your own.”

6 WHAT IS AN ARGUMENT? How is an argument different from a statement or explanation? What are the components of an argument? What is a valid argument?

7 Which of these are arguments and which are statements and explanations?

8 What does it mean to be skeptical of something?

9 Skepticism “The skeptic wants not to deny life but to affirm a version of life that is more accurate – to arrive at a better explanation of what things mean, to locate and solve problems that others don’t see. In this sense, skepticism is careful and intelligent optimism.” “A skeptical attitude goes hand in hand with writing analytically…By asking questions you’ll discover that the world is filled with interesting things to analyze.” One wise professor once said: “You must look at everything as if you are an alien and have never seen it before. Anything you take for granted as normal or accepted, you must question.” This is sage advice

10 What is an “opinion”?

11 Opinions “Our opinions are learned. They are products of our culture and our upbringing – not personal possessions. It is okay to have opinions. Everyone does. It is not okay, however, to give too many of our views and opinions protected species status by walling them off into a reserve, not to be touched by reasoning or evidence.” The difference between ideas and opinions: “To arrive at ideas, we have to learn to see the questions that are suggested by whatever it is we are studying. Opinions, particularly for people who have a lot of them, get in the way of having ideas because opinions are so often habitual responses – mental reflexes.”

12 “So What?” Throughout the writing process it’s helpful to ask yourself the question “so what?” when you arrive at an idea of what you think you want to convey to your reader If the answer to this question feels relevant and intriguing to you then you know you’re on the right track, if not, you will need to ask some questions to get deeper into your subject

13 Explaining, finding flaws, providing reasons What makes an argument valid or invalid? An argument is valid when the conclusion logically follows from the premises Ex: Premesis 1. Either Jack or Jill went to the store. Premesis 2: Jack did not go to the store. Conclusion: Therefore, Jill went to the store.

14 How to spot an invalid argument Most common fallacies Appeals to emotion Ex: This washing powder just makes me so happy! (advertisement) Red Herring "Argument" for making grad school requirements stricter: "I think there is great merit in making the requirements stricter for the graduate students. I recommend that you support it, too. After all, we are in a budget crisis and we do not want our salaries affected." Straw man Ex: Bill and Jill are arguing about cleaning out their closets: Jill: "We should clean out the closets. They are getting a bit messy." Bill: "Why, we just went through those closets last year. Do we have to clean them out everyday?" Jill: "I never said anything about cleaning them out every day. You just want too keep all your junk forever, which is just ridiculous." Attacking the person (ad hominem) Ex: Stephen Harpers economic policies are bad because he is stupid Slippery slope Ex: Marijuana is bad because people who do marijuana end up doing cocaine and heroin

15 Let’s look at these with a critical eye

16 Examples of critical analysis in popular culture What kinds of questions should we be asking when we read (academic and journalistic articles), watch (TV, youtube or films), and listen (podcasts, the radio or music)? How will this inform our writing?


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