Spring, 2019

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ENGL 0312 Coursemap: Spring Semester, 2019.

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How to attack a text

Note: In a reader response, always try to be positive. However, do not hesitate to criticize a text negatively if criticism is warranted.

First, give the title of the piece and the author’s name, with a very brief summary of the text.  Then, if appropriate, show why the author is wrong or should not be believed.  (Of course, do not simply say that a text is obscure or impossible—give quotes or examples to illustrate your point!)\

You may wish to attack a text as being:

  • unclear  (jumbled, disorganized, confused, obscure, self-contradictory, impossible for an intelligent person to understand, full of holes, leaves too many questions unanswered, uses too many obscure or undefined words, too general, too badly written to make any sense, written in language or style that readers cannot understand);

  • impossible to believe (unbelievable, incoherent, incredible, a flat-out lie or deception, strains the reader’s suspension of disbelief, offers no reasons to believe the author’s statements, gives no solid sources for unusual or extraordinary claims, relies on questionable, outdated or biased sources, relies on personal stories instead of objective evidence, relies on evidence that is missing or cannot be produced or reproduced);

  • impossible to accomplish (not anchored in the real world, a proposal that is not possible to do, a fantasy masquerading as reality, is silly or ridiculous, ignores the laws of nature, turns the world on its head, requires a miracle or an act of God to come true, is a million-to-one long shot);

  • irrational (not standing up to the test of logic, paranoid, not an intelligent piece of writing, jumps to conclusions, includes gross logical fallacies, is ignorant, uneducated, childish or infantile, lacks any evidence or proof for statements or claims, is closed-minded, is ideologically driven, conveniently ignores the facts);

  • inhuman (unfitting, coarse or boorish, just not right or moral in a civilized society, evil-minded, unworthy of decent people, immature, vicious or hateful, racist, sexist or discriminatory, or culturally unacceptable, disagrees with your own faith or morals, is inhumane, is written in bad faith [i.e., even the writer does not believe it], conveniently ignores the fate of certain groups of people, is self-centered); or

  • wasteful (unprofitable, makes no sense financially or money-wise, is wasteful, will cost more than it saves, throws good money after bad, robs Peter to pay Paul, is a zero- [or negative] sum game, throws money at the problem instead of solving the causes, will result in poverty, bankruptcy or starvation, will enrich the few at the cost of the many, will trade short-term gain for long term disaster, will ruin the environment).

    (Reference:http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Pedagogy/Progymnasmata/Refutation.htm )

O.W. 11/05 rev 12/12

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