Your challenge is to write a review/critique of some webpage that discusses whether GMOs are safe (just Google ‘are GMOs safe’ or something similar). You must USE THE READINGS FROM THIS WEEK to inform your analysis. Questions to consider in your essay:
Don’t choose something that is super long or complex; that creates way more work for you than is necessary here. Also, don’t choose anything that is super short and trite; it simply won’t give you enough material to work with. Spend 10 or 15 minutes looking through various options before deciding on what to critique. The assignment is more fun if you have something to say about your piece, whether about how useful it is or how ridiculous it is. Either way, have an opinion and express it clearly in your essay!
As with all your assignments, the goal is to put the course to use in addressing ‘real-world’ discussions about food production issues, namely critically analyzing some source that you might read even outside of this course. This is the goal of the entire course—-to help you think carefully and historically about the relationship between food and technology. Be sure you are analyzing your webpage in terms of the this week’s readings and even the rest of the course.
In other words, there are two distinct goals: 1) Show me that you’ve reasonably carefully done the readings for this week. 2) Show me that can you can critically analyze a piece of web writing in the same way we’ve been analyzing everything in the class.
As with the book reviews, your task as an author is to explain to someone unfamiliar with the article whether they should take it seriously or not, and in particular what is useful and what is lacking. A good critique will address both positive and negative aspects of the article, but not necessarily in equal amounts.
You should begin your essay with a succinct summary of the source—no more than a few sentences—so that your readers have an idea of what the point is (assume they have not read it themselves). This is a high-level big picture overview; save details for later in your analysis.
Then, comment about the strength of the argument in general. If it’s evidence based, is there sufficient evidence to back the author’s claims? If it’s more of a philosophical or ethical piece (where documentary evidence might not be much used), does the argument hold up? Does it flow logically and naturally from one point to the next? Or is kind of rambling and disjointed?
If relevant, comment on evidence used to support the argument. Maybe there are “scientific” studies, maybe anecdotal evidence, maybe nothing. Relatedly, how does the author establish expertise or authority? Are you convinced by the evidence?
What kinds of assumptions does the author make? Assumptions are frequently not stated in the text, so you’ll need to think outside of what’s in the actual text. What is problematic or missing? What did you find particularly effective?
Note: Revisions are hard! But they are the only way to make your writing shine. That’s why we have a revision guide.
Please email me anytime with questions or concerns, including whether a particular source will work with the assignment. But really anything that you think would be vaguely fun to write about is fine.
Have I mentioned the revision guide? Use it!