Discussion.

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Dec 8, 2022

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Paragraph: Let me begin with the most basic component of essay—paragraph. The
length of paragraphs could be varied but please avoid using excessively
lengthy ones (say, more than 400-500 words). If your essay consists of
lengthy paragraphs, readers might feel difficult to follow your
discussion.
Topic Sentence: You are recommended to place
a topic sentence at the top of every paragraph; that is, the first
sentence of each paragraph should be its topic sentence. A topic sentence
must contain
and convey the central message—what you want to say—in the paragraph following
it. This may help readers easy to follow your discussion.
With the topic sentences, readers could understand the contour of your essay even if she or he read only the first sentence (topic sentence)
of every paragraph.
Sentences: I recommend you
not to use inordinately lengthy or unnecessarily complicated sentences. Short
and simple sentences are okay; long and elaborated sentences are okay as
well. But do not make your sentences something of a labyrinth. Sentences
must be clean and clear. * a quick advice for those who want to write in Korean:
지나치게긴문장을사용하지마세요. 특히주어앞에긴삽입구를넣는것은지양하세요. (나쁜문장의예시: 이화여자대학교에서주제사수업을수강하고있는사학과 21학번학생이자평소서양사를비롯한모든역사에아무런관심이없었던이화연은오늘도저지겨운수업을들으니죽을맛이었다. → 수정예시: 이화연은이화여자대학교사학과 21학번학생으로주제사수업을수강하고있었다. 그는평소서양사를비롯한모든역사에아무런관심이없었기때문에오늘도저지겨운수업을들으니죽을맛이었다.)
Main
Argument: through
the book, the author presents many arguments. Since your
essay is short—shorter, at least, than the book of your choice—you, as a
reviewer, will not be able to discuss all the arguments. The primary task of book review is to summarize and assess the book’s MAIN ARGUMENT—the
argument that the author ultimately wants to say through her or his book.
Summary
& Assessment: A
book review consists of two parts; 1) a summary of the book’s main points—topic(s),
argument(s), theme(s), and main narrative and 2) the review’s assessment
of them. As for the portion of each part, there’s no such a thing as a
golden rule. The summary part could be longer or shorter than the
assessment part—or vice versa. Generally speaking, the summary and assessment
are equally divided in many book reviews or the assessment is a little longer
than the summary (say, the assessment two-thirds of a book review verses the
summary one-third). But either way is fine. It’s up to you!
Assessment: you may want to assess the
various features of the book. Please keep in mind the following principles
Balanced
& Fair-minded: Try to assess both strengths(merits) and
weaknesses(limitations). Be critical but not too captious or
fault-finding. Praise good things in the book while criticizing bad
things.
Low-level
assessment: In your essay, you
can talk about such basic things as sentences, paragraphs, graphs, etc. For example,
you can say like “One of this book’s merits is its sentences, which are
generally clear and easy to follow.” Or, “Despite many of its virtues, the
book is not free of criticism. The author discusses the U.S. West Coast while
not providing a map. At times this makes readers hard to follow his
discussion.”
Criticism
of the book’s main argument: Such low-level assessment is good but not enough. A good review essay must contain criticism of the book’s main argument. Try to find
some weaknesses or limitations or exaggerations or overstatement or
incoherencies in the book’s main argument.
Criticism should be grounded: try to make your assessment
and criticism persuasive and convincing. To do so, your assessment and
criticism should be solidly based on evidence. If you want to criticize
the book this ways: “One of the most serious weaknesses of this book is that
it does not give an adequate attention to the experiences of women.” Then
you must give some concrete examples: “For example, in Chapter 3 that
discusses X, the author focuses almost exclusively on such male figures as
A and B, while largely ignoring those women who engaged with X.”
Structure: a book review consists of introductory part (one or two paragraphs), main body, and conclusion (one or
two paragraphs). The goal of introductory part is to INTRODUCE the author
and book (as if you introduce someone to others): e.g. In his book
entitled The Party of Hope, Ilnyun Kim, the scholar of the modern
U.S. History and professor at Ewha Womans University argues that …; In the main
body, you summarize, analyze, and criticize the book. And
in conclusion, you briefly summarize what you have been saying above and provide some
implications for today.
Quotations: try to find some good
quotes from the book of your choice and use them in your review. Follow such format: Justin
Hart claims that “McCarthy’s barrage delivered the final blow to the
public diplomacy shop at the State Department(5).” / This book explores “the
philosophical assumptions about foreign relations” that led to the creation
of a national security state(66).
Title: think about an
attractive title that contains the core message of your book review.

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