Each student will write an analysis paper examining the assigned reading Addicted to Incarceration (2nd Ed.). The purpose of the paper is not just to specifically test knowledge, but to also force critical thinking about Pratt’s arguments and logic. This paper should be no more than 2,500 words (not including the cover page or references). Students are required to incorporate a minimum of three additional sources to substantiate points, any additional sources must be scholarly in nature (i.e., scholarly journal articles or your course textbook). Quotes, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism The use of direct quotes is prohibited, as direct quotes do not demonstrate your understanding of the material. The only direct quote exception is when a formal definition is needed (must be properly cited and referenced). Students will still need to paraphrase source information. Paraphrasing still requires proper APA citations. Students are not permitted to reuse any course work from a previous or current course for the purposes of the assigned paper for this course., unless given express permission by the instructor. General Formatting Requirements 1. A cover page 2. Running Head (upper left-hand corner of the header) 3. Page numbering (upper right-hand corner of the header) 4. 1” margins on all sides 5. Strict double-spacing (no additional space before or after each line – check paragraph settings) 6. Times New Roman, 12-point font throughout your entire paper – cover page through references 7. All text (with the exception of headings within the body of the paper) should be left-justified (., do not “Justify” the text of your paper as the spacing will be off). 8. Written in formal English, with college-level writing mechanics and APA-style formatting, inclusive of in-text citations and references Source Requirements In addition to the book, only scholarly, peer-reviewed sources (., journal articles) or information from your course textbook will be accepted as official source materials. JS104 2 General Paper Structure: The structure of the paper will include the following main sections. Address each item outlined below. I. Introduction A. The name of the author, the book title, and the main theme. B. Relevant details about who the author is and where he/she stands in the genre or field of inquiry. You could also link the title to the subject to show how the title explains the subject matter. C. The context of the book and/or your analysis. Your choice of context informs your argument. Be sure to address key historical events. D. The thesis of the book. Identifying the book’s particular novelty, angle, or originality allows you to show what specific contribution the piece is trying to make. E. Your thesis about the book. II. Summary of Content III. Analysis and Evaluation A. Introduction B. The Politics of Punishment in the United States C. Misinformation About the Crime Problem D. Misinformation About Public Opinion E. Misinformation About Prisons and Crime Control F. The Social Costs of Incarceration G. Conclusions and Recommendations IV. Conclusion V. References (APA-style references for all scholarly sources used in your paper) Grading 1. Completion of all areas of the assignment; following the structure and guidelines 2. Writing mechanics and usage of APA format throughout the paper 3. Critical thinking Proper Submission 1. The finalized version of papers will be downloaded by the instructor, as such; papers must be complete and in an acceptable word processing file format (., *.doc; *.docx only). Do not attempt to upload your assignment via Google Docs. 2. No late submissions will be accepted barring a documented and valid need for a limited extension, which must be discussed with the instructor in advance of the deadline. JS104 3 What is a Critique? A critique is a critical evaluation of a text, event, object, or phenomenon. Critiques can consider books, articles, entire genres or fields of literature, architecture, art, fashion, restaurants, policies, exhibitions, performances, and many other forms. This handout will focus on book critiques. Above all, a critique makes an argument. The most important element of a critique is that it is a commentary, not merely a summary. It allows you to enter into dialogue and discussion with the work’s creator and with other audiences. You can offer agreement or disagreement and identify where you find the work exemplary or deficient in its knowledge, judgments, or organization. You should clearly state your opinion of the work in question, and that statement will probably resemble other types of academic writing, with a thesis statement, supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion. While critiques vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features: • First, a critique gives the reader a concise summary of the content. This includes a relevant description of the topic as well as its overall perspective, argument, or purpose. • Second, and more importantly, a critique offers a critical assessment of the content. This involves your reactions to the work under critique: what strikes you as noteworthy, whether or not it was effective or persuasive, and how it enhanced your understanding of the issues at hand. • Finally, in addition to analyzing the work, a critique often suggests whether or not the audience would appreciate it. Critique Advice Critiquing can be a daunting task. Someone has asked for your opinion about something that you may feel unqualified to evaluate. Who are you to criticize Toni Morrison’s new book if you’ve never written a novel yourself, much less won a Nobel Prize? The point is that someone—a professor, a journal editor, peers in a study group—wants to know what you think about a particular work. You may not be (or feel like) an expert, but you need to pretend to be one for your particular audience. Nobody expects you to be the intellectual equal of the work’s creator, but your careful observations can provide you with the raw material to make reasoned judgments. Tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism, is a valuable, challenging skill, and like many forms of writing, critiques require you to provide concrete evidence for your assertions. Combine balanced opinion and concrete example, a critical assessment based on an explicitly stated rationale, and a recommendation to a potential audience. A good critique offers criteria, opinions, and support with which the reader can agree or disagree. Developing an Assessment: Before You Write There is no definitive method to writing a critique, although some critical thinking about the work at hand is necessary before you actually begin writing. Thus, writing a critique is a two-step process: developing an argument about the work under consideration, and making that argument as you write an organized and well-supported draft. In Critique Finally, a few general considerations: • Critique the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but do not criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be. • With any luck, the author of the book worked hard to find the right words to express her ideas. You should attempt to do the same. Precise language allows you to control the tone of your critique. JS104 4 • Never hesitate to challenge an assumption, approach, or argument. Be sure, however, to cite specific examples to back up your assertions carefully. • Try to present a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience. You’re entitled— and sometimes obligated—to voice strong agreement or disagreement. But keep in mind that a bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and every author deserves fair treatment. Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment. What follows is a series of questions to focus your thinking as you dig into the work at hand: • What is the thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get one idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world you know? What has the book accomplished? • What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Does the author cover the subject adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion? What is the approach to the subject (topical, analytical, chronological, descriptive)? • How does the author support his argument? What evidence does he use to substantiate his point? Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? Does any of the author’s information (or conclusions) conflict with other books you have read, courses you have taken or just previous assumptions you had of the subject? • How does the author structure his argument? What are the parts that make up the whole? Does the argument make sense? Does it persuade you? Why or why not? • How has this book helped you understand the subject? Would you recommend the book to your reader? Writing the Critique Once you have made your observations and assessments of the work under critique, carefully survey your notes and attempt to unify your impressions into a statement that will describe the purpose or thesis of your critique. Then, outline the arguments that support your thesis. Your arguments should develop the thesis in a logical manner. That logic, unlike more standard academic writing, may initially emphasize the author’s argument while you develop your own in the course of the critique. The following elaborates on the main sections of your paper: Introduction, Summary of Content, Analysis and Evaluation, and Conclusion Introduction • The name of the author and the book title and the main theme. • Relevant details about who the author is and where he/she stands in the genre or field of inquiry. You could also link the title to the subject to show how the title explains the subject matter. • The context of the book and/or your critique. Placing your critique in a framework that makes sense to your audience alerts readers to your “take” on the book. Perhaps you want to situate a book about the Cuban revolution in the context of Cold War rivalries between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another person might want to consider the book in the framework of Latin American social movements. Your choice of context informs your argument. • The thesis of the book. If you are critiquing fiction, this may be difficult since novels, plays, and short stories rarely have explicit arguments. But identifying the book’s particular novelty, angle, or originality allows you to show what specific contribution the piece is trying to make. • Your thesis about the book.
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