Reading essay

This writing assignment focuses on your critical reading skills and your ability to identify, explain and analyze the argument in a piece of scholarly writing. The article chosen for this exercise is: (attached as pdf files)

Carol Payne, “ “How Shall We Use These Gifts?” Imagining the Land in the National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division”, in Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art, ed. John O’Brian and Peter White, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007, 153-160.

Some things to consider, and suggestions for structuring your essay:

Who wrote this piece, when, why, where, and for whom?

What scholarly and/or public debates, ideas, or theories is the author engaging with? What body or bodies of knowledge is the piece contributing to?

What view (argument or hypothesis) is the author putting forward?

What method/s does the author use to provide evidence for this view?

What evidence does the author marshal to support this view? How is the argument structured?

What rhetorical methods or modes of persuasion does the author adopt: tone of voice, writing style, type and structure of argument, other strategies? (Please note: this is not reducible to the issue of whether or not you as a reader found the argument interesting or easy to follow. This question has to do with the specific character or stylistic qualities of the rhetoric used here.)

Do you find the evidence, logic and rhetoric (as analyzed above) persuasive? Why or why not? (You need to provide specific examples from the text to support your assertion.)

We will proceed with this assignment in two stages.

First stage: Please read the assigned article and put down your notes for the essay in point form following the questions listed above. (ONE page)

Second stage: write a 1300 -1500 words essay by answering all those questions listed above with the requirements below: (at least 5 pages)

Please remember that the primary aim here is to analyze the text as a piece of work in itself, not to express your opinion on the issues it deals with (except at the end when you may wish to bring up points that the author may not have considered, or flaws in reasoning – though either of these would need to be supported by evidence from the text). In this essay you will not have your own hypothesis, thesis statement or argument: you need to identify, explain and discuss those of the author.

Another aim of this exercise is to develop your skills in paraphrasing. Please do not use direct quotes from the article instead of using your own words! Only use direct quotes when something is written in a way that cannot be rephrased, or if the author is coining a specific phrase or term, or 2 when you want to make a point about the author’s writing style or rhetoric (for instance, if something is put particularly well, or in a manner of which you are critical). When quoting from the article please ensure that it is cited in the appropriate manner (the first time in full and then using page numbers for all subsequent references to the text).

Please note:

This assignment does not permit the use of secondary sources in writing your essay. The only source for this essay is the text itself. However, if you feel you simply cannot proceed without reference to other people’s interpretations the sources for these MUST be cited in the appropriate manner and listed in a bibliography at the end. Please note that will detect verbatim use of secondary sources; if you are found using such sources without acknowledgment this will constitute plagiarism, a very serious academic offence.



It should be approximately 5 pages in length (approx. 13001500 words, not counting bibliography or footnotes)

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