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Study Activities: Critic versus Reviewer

The following activities will help you to practice active reading strategies and critical discourse, useful not only to the final writing assignment, but also to your preparation of the Composition Assessment Test (C.A.T.). 

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Active Critical Reading
Reread "Critic v. Reviewer" by Richard Marcus and, pen in hand, mark the following directly onto the draft. (You may use whatever method is easiest for you: underlining, highlighting, or annotating in the margins.)
  • central idea: What is the author's intention to write this essay? (You may summarize it in your own words, but mark those places in the text that helped you to determine this.)

  • important language: Other than "critic" and "reviewer," what are some other important vocabulary words Marcus uses in this essay? 

  • key points: Identify at least two main points (other than the central idea) that the author makes in support of this thesis. These can be factual points or his opinions.

  • response: Mark with an asterisk (*) any place in the essay where you would like to have asked the author a question or would like to have responded directly to the author because of something he write.

Group Discussion Questions
Gather into small groups (groups of 4, but no larger), appoint or agree upon a note-taker, and organize the following discussion.
Select a topic of mutual interest and enthusiasm to everyone in your group. (Make sure of this before you start; sometimes someone agrees to go along with a conversation to which they're not equipped to contribute.) Entertainment is often a good starting place, such as a movie you've all seen, or a genre of storytelling you all like, or a sport all of you follow closely. Select something you're all enthusiastic to talk about. 
Spend 5 minutes talking about it, sharing opinions, feelings, ideas about it, even debating it. Then, complete the following tasks:
  1. Discuss how would you'd go about teaching a "newbie" how to participate in a meaningful conversation with you about your topic: record, define, and explain three criteria (subtopics, qualities, identifying features, etc.) most important to a critical discussion of your topic. 

  2. When you're finished, have an honest discussion about how a reviewer, not a critic, would have handled the talk you just had. What's different about the criteria needed to address your selected topic as a review, rather than as a critical discussion? (Think about the sorts of judgments that a review would have made that are different from critical points.) Using your active reading strategies of Richard Marcus's article, frame your discussion by borrowing his vocabulary and ideas. Feel free to add your own ideas about the differences between "critic" and "reviewer," too.

Last Updated: 11/06/2017

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