Writing an Article Critique

A critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought, the practices that we accept rest … Criticism is a matter of flushing out that thought and trying to change it: to show that things are not as self-evident as one believed, to see that what is accepted as self-evident will no longer be accepted as such. Practicing criticism is a matter of making facile gestures difficult.

 — Michel Foucault, 1988, Politics, philosophy, culture. New York: Routledge (p. 154)

Remember that a book critique is not a summary, rather it is an evaluation of the work in relation to a particular set of issues or questions. For example:

Questions for Criticism
  1. What is the historical location of the text?
  2. Who is the author?
  3. Who are the author’s sponsors?
  4. What are their interests?
  5. What image do they portray?
  6. Who is the audience? What are their interests?
  7. What is the focal point of the piece?
  8. How is the focal point developed?
  9. What is the underlying ideology?
  10. What is omitted? What alternative views are silenced?
  11. What meaning is drawn by interactions of graphics and texts?
  12. What is being urged? What is the project here?
  13. Who gains? Who is hurt?
  14. Is this a closed system?
  15. Is it rational?
  16. Is it subject only to faith or analysis?

These questions are starting points and will likely raise further questions. I’m not suggesting that these questions be used as the explicit framework for writing of your critique, but they’re useful in terms of establishing a critical mindset as you read the book. Here are links to several different sets of guidelines for critical reading/writing critiques:

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