Critical Review Paper. Each student will be responsible for one 1000 word paper that critically reviews an assigned article. Students must complete this paper between Week 3 and 5. Papers are due at the beginning of the class in which the article in question will be discussed. Articles eligible for critical review are denoted with a (*) on the required reading schedule on the course syllabus. You cannot complete this review on an article that you are presenting on.
The main purpose of a critical review paper is to practice writing concise and focused responses to a particular article. This is a very short writing assignment but, within the small space allotted, you must go beyond a simple summary of the article and respond critically to some aspect of the
argument made or the data presented. After briefly identifying the main themes/arguments within the article in question you can structure your paper around one of the following topics:
1) Describe aspects of the article you disagree with and explain why.
2) Explore the implications of the paper’s argument in a way that goes beyond the author’s
efforts in this regard.
3) Consider how recent events either lend credence to, or challenge, the author’s main
4) Consider how these themes/arguments relate to the broader themes we deal with in the
course (Does this article help us to understand some other aspect of the interaction between the law and religion? How do these arguments relate to arguments from other course readings?)
Choose one of these topics and explore the issue in as much depth as possible while remaining under the word count (1000). This is not a research essay but, if you do refer to other sources, ensure that you are citing them correctly.
Keys to success on these papers:
– Be as efficient as possible in the summary/description of the main arguments of the
article in question and elaborate as much as possible on the key points/critiques you want
to make in response to the article.
– Make an argument. Treat this as an argumentative mini-essay, complete with concise
introduction, thesis statement, and systematic analysis.
– Keep your paper “tight.” Do not allow yourself to wander into a debate/issue that has
little to do with the particular argument you seek to make.
– You do not have the space in this type of paper to properly elaborate on 4-5 points. Pick
your strongest one or two and ensure that you explain them clearly and elaborate on their implications.
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