Cartoon Cultures: The Globalization of Japanese Popular Media
Essay Prompt: Critically review Anne Cooper-Chens Cartoon Cultures.
How to approach this essay: The idea of a critical review is that you survey a source for your reader by explaining its arguments and examples, and also provide your analysis. To be very clear: the idea of a critical review is not the same as a book report: you must go beyond just summarizing the source by adding your critical reflections on it.
Because a critical review must first inform the reader about the contents of the source you are analyzing, a common format for an essay like this is:
Summarize the big picture arguments of the source
Evaluate the evidence offered in the source (where did the author get her information, how does she deal with different kinds of examples, does she recognize limitations of her sources, etc.)
Analyze the source from your perspective, backed by concepts and/or other sources
All three parts are essential, but the third is what makes this kind of an essay more than a book report. What I mean is that the first two parts really only describe what is in the source without attempting to add your own analysis. In that way, to make sure the essay does more than just inform the reader about the source, and to make sure your essay will advance your own claim about the source, think carefully about what kind of analysis you can add. Specifically, here are some different possibilities:
Disagree (or both agree and disagree) with the authors analysis and/or conclusions, backed with evidence
Show how the authors analysis ignores important concepts, or puts the emphasis in the wrong places
Argue that the authors evidence is insufficient in specific ways
Explain how other examples contradict the authors arguments
Demonstrate the limitations of the authors analysis, indicating how more research, better evidence, or different cases are needed to understand a key concept or claim
There are others, but the point here is just that your essay must take a critical angle of some kind on the source. As you read, make sure to think about what angle that might be, and keep track of information from the book that you can use in your analysis.
It is very important that the essay covers the whole of the book and that it does not focus on a certain area of the book.
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