Your task is to write a piece of scholarly or professional criticism
on a subject of your choice, in your field. This assignment will
call on you to practice the skills required to be an expert voice in
your field, writing for other experts. You will develop a
researched and complex argument and support it with analysis
and discussion of relevant texts and works in your field. Your
piece should be about 2000-2500 words and be written in a
manner suitable for publication in a professional or scholarly
publication, including citations and appropriate style, language
Defining the Genre & the Rhetorical Situation
Scholarly or professional criticism is written by experts for other
scholars and/or professionals. It is similar to a review in the
sense that it involves: the critic’s opinion, a set of criteria that the
opinion is based on, and description of the subject. However,
because it is written for specialists, by specialists,
professional/scholarly criticism is more in-depth, involves
more complex criteria, and incorporates research.
Usually published in scholarly or industry journals and
publications, academic/professional criticism provides insights on
subjects that would be uniquely valuable and interesting to
readers who are experienced with and conversant in the
theories, language and key figures in the field.
An academic or professional critic’s opinion is based less
on whether or not they personally enjoyed the text, and
much more on their interpretation of the importance, impact
and meaning of the subject within the field.
● Identify the primary genres of your discipline/professional
● Identify and explain key trends, impacts and cultural, historical,
or theoretical contexts within your field
● Describe and contextualize work that you are examining
● Communicate and support a critical argument
● Draw on your experience and expertise within your
field/discipline to frame and present material effectively
● Practice writing for audiences that are experts within your field
● Find appropriate texts to use as sources and examples
● Cite sources appropriately
● Identify and explore a significant work, trend, issue or
rhetorical strategy in your field and examine it in relation to
cultural, historical, or theoretical contexts and concerns. !
● Write your critical review piece for a professional and/or
academic audience. !
Step 1: Choose Your Subject !
Guidelines for What You Write About !
This is very open to your interests and areas of expertise. Within
that, you could choose to focus on either: !
● Scholarly text(s) : Your criticism can be a new
perspective in an ongoing conversation among other
writers and experts in the field, responding to what
has already been said or written about an issue, trend
or topic. !
● Non-alphabetic text: You could also center
your criticism on a creation such as: dramatic
productions; albums, compositions; performances;
films/documentaries; exhibits; programs; works of fine
art’ architectural projects; etc. !
NOTE: In both cases, you will want to engage with other texts
and works that are relevant to your criticism. So, additional
research and reading are expected no matter what you
choose as a subject.
Additional Considerations for Your Choice
You should also consider the other guidelines that a reader or
editor would consider when choosing a critical piece to read or
● Author’s Expertise : You’ll need to establish your
credibility as a writer, so work within your field of expertise. !
● Current/Urgent : Criticism engages with what matters
“now” (which can be more or less stretchy, but usually that
means engaging with discussions and work that have
happened at least within the last 2 years). !
● Unique Perspectives and New Developments:
○ cutting edge of your disciplines; !
○ controversial in the field !
○ central to on-going conversations among
fellow scholars; !
○ complicate the practices of your discipline !
● Practical/Feasible: Of course, you need to be able to pull
this off! That means:
○ You have access to the work you are
reviewing so you can carefully analyze it. !
○ The scope of the piece should be such that
you can cover it within the time, word count, etc that is
given (See below for mechanics.) !
Research to Support Your Criticism
With the subject established, you’ll dig deeper into the research.
What You Need to Do
Find sources. These will primarily be:
Scholarly or professional texts
Other works relevant to the subject (for example one film
that you are comparing to the other)
Develop a working bibliography to track and evaluate of your
Cite according to the style guide used by your discipline (See
Research Resources below for guidance.)
What Your Research Will Cover
● Subject information
○ Definition of the issue/trend question !
○ Description of the work !
○ Prominence/acclaim (or lack thereof) !
○ Historic context !
○ Social and/or Cultural context !
○ Who has been involved, what else they have
○ Other texts that inform or influence the
● Relevant theories and concepts
○ Aesthetic principles !
○ Schools of thought !
○ Methodologies of production or critique that
have been applied !
○ Controversies or questions !
○ Breakthroughs !
Write the Workshop Version
(Finally!) Time to put it all together !Key Elements !One key
principle to keep in mind with writing this piece, as noted at
the beginning of the Project Map: An academic or
professional critic’s opinion is based less on whether
or not they personally enjoyed the text, and much more
on their interpretation of the importance, impact and
meaning of the subject within the field. !So you’re not
being asked to say whether/why you “liked” something. You
are being asked to do 2 things: !
● Relay your unique perspective on the
subject, as an expert. Basically, what new things
you have to say about why this matters. !
● Engage with what others have
created/said (or failed to) when it comes to this
subject . Contextualizing your perspective in response
to others’ writing/creations. !Other Important
Considerations in Composing Your
Piece !In considering and answering the below
questions, you will likely draw a lot on your research
as well as your initial assessment of example
criticism. Now is a great time to review your notes and
the posts from the Critics’ Circle activity (Step
2/Discussion Post 4). !● Description/definition !
○ If your subject is a creation itself, what is like, how was it
done, etc. Help the reader imagine it. !
○ If your subject is an issue/trend/topic, establish a core
statement of what it is about. !
○ Note that while this may seem basic/perfunctory, a
lot of the “art” of critique is in how writers bring their
readers “in” to the subject. !● Criteria !
○ What are the ways that people in your field describe and
assess work? !
○ How/to what extent does your subject conform to,
reinforces, call into question or !reimagine those criteria? ●
○ How much description is needed? !
○ Are cultural and/or historic background important? !
○ Is there a “hook” such as a new revelation, a connection
to the news cycle, or an !exciting element that you want to
○ Are you adding something new to the conversation, and
how can you make that !new perspective central to the
○ When and how will you provide analysis to support your
● Standards, Style and Conventions
○ What kinds of language will you use? What are the
terms that fellow experts !would recognize? Are there
new key terms to introduce? !
○ What is the appropriate tone for the piece? !
○ Is there a typical structure or pattern that reviews in
this field follow? !
○ What are the accepted methods of analysis in this
○ What kinds of texts, evidence/exhibits, etc would
be persuasive? !
● Non-alphabetic-text Elements: You may, but are NOT
required to include: ○ illustrations/images !○ short
audio/visual clips ○ charts ○ etc !For all of the above, note
that you might also find that it’s powerful to deviate
from the norms of criticism in some ways . Make sure
that you have a good reason for doing so, and that the
audience will stay with you. You will have the opportunity to
test these choices in your workshop and also to explain
them in your Reflection. !
The task is to write a piece of scholarly or professional CRITICISM on the subject of RACE or SIZE in the fashion industry. You will develop a researched and complex argument and support it with analysis and discussion of relevant texts and works in the field and be written in a manner suitable for publication in a professional or scholarly publication, including citations and appropriate style, language and tone
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