Essay 4: The academic critique

Assigned: Thursday, October 13

First draft due: Tuesday, October 18 (emailed by class)

Final draft due: Thursday, October 27 (online by class)


Learning how to craft a strong, academic argument is imperative for writing at the college level. In many of your more humanities-based classes, your professors will ask you to critique texts, theories, or other bodies of work. In order to do this effectively, you’ll need to be able to synthesize knowledge you’ve gained about the subject, augment it with outside research, and finally apply this information in a close interpretation of the topic at hand. A successful critique demonstrates not only that you have read the text (or watched the movie, or observed the artwork), but that you have digested it. And that in digesting it, you’ve developed your own cogent interpretation.

Assignment prompt:

In essay 3, you wrote a news article espousing the successes of a conservation initiative of your choosing. Your goal in this assignment is to critique that conservation program from a postcolonial theory perspective.

Start by reviewing the material we have covered thus far this semester to remind yourself of some key concepts. While we have read excerpts from some of the more well known postcolonial texts, we have by no means exhausted this field. As such, while you are free to cite any of the readings from class, in addition you must cite at least two outside sources. These sources should be academic in nature and should address a topic within postcolonial studies. Practice searching through various databases as we learned in our library session.

Because this assignment is a critique, pay particular attention to the following:

  1. Thesis: is it arguable? original? specific?
  2. Overall argument: is it logical? supported clearly by evidence?
  3. Argument organization: does the order in which you present information strengthen your claims?

Unlike assignment 2, in which you embodied the perspective of another author and wrote to a non-technical audience, this essay should be your own interpretation, strengthened by your use of sources on the subject. Assume that your audience is familiar with basic postcolonial theory (aka me), but that you will still need to explain your reasoning.

Format: 5-6 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Calibri font, 1” margins 

Submission: Your first draft should be emailed to your assigned peer reviewer with me (cam435) cc’d. Your final draft should be uploaded as a Word document to the course website with the filename: “lastname_essay4.doc.”