Academic Evaluations

Critical Writing

Reviews are a type of critical writing, but there are other types of critical writing which focus on objects (like works of art or literature) rather than on events and performances. Literary criticism, for instance, is a way of establishing the worth or literary merit of a text on the basis of certain established criteria. When we write about literary texts, we do so using one of many critical "lenses," viewing the text as it addresses matters like form, culture, historical context, gender, and class (to name a few). Deciding whether a text is "good" or "bad" is a matter of establishing which "lens" you are viewing that text through, and using the appropriate set of criteria to do so. For example, we might say that a poem by an obscure Nineteenth Century African American poet is not "good" or "useful" in terms of formal characteristics like rhyme, meter, or diction, but we might judge that same text as "good" or "useful" in terms of the way it addresses cultural and political issues historically.

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Introduction