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Writing Guide with Handbook

7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?

Writing Guide with Handbook7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the role of the review genre in personal, professional, and academic contexts.
  • Articulate what differentiates the review genre from other genres.

Developing evaluation skills can help you in everyday life. Just about anything you buy or use will require you to evaluate a range of choices based on criteria that are important to you. For example, writing a good paper or making a good presentation necessitates locating and evaluating sources. See Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources for more information. You also may be asked to evaluate the effectiveness of your courses at the end of the semester. Or you may be asked to evaluate the work of your peers to help them revise their compositions. In the professional world, you may be asked to evaluate solutions to problems, employees you supervise, and in some cases, even yourself. Evaluating effectively makes you not only a better consumer but also a better student, employee, and possible supervisor.

Using Evidence to Make a Judgment

When you review or evaluate something, the end result is your judgment about it. Should your readers see the film? Are the food and service good at the restaurant? Should you use this source in your essay? Does your employee deserve a raise? Making a clear judgment about the subject of your evaluation provides guidance for the actions that audience members may take on the basis of the information you provide.

Ultimately, your judgment is your opinion. For example, it is expected that some people will love Avengers: Endgame (2019) and others will not. In fact, because some people may disagree with you, reviews provide a perfect opportunity to use evidence to defend your judgment. You are probably familiar with some ways in which reviewers present their judgments about their subjects. Reviews on Facebook, Google, and Yelp have a star rating system (the more stars the better). The film review site Rotten Tomatoes shows the percentage of reviewers that recommend the film. The review site The AV Club rates films and TV episodes by using an A-to-F grading scale.

While it is important to present your overall judgment in a review, a simple “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it” is not enough to help your audience make their own judgments. It is also important to explain why you arrived at the judgment you did. Think about some of the titles of reviews you have seen online. One might simply read “DIRTY!” about an experience staying in a hotel. Other reviews might present a thesis, or debatable main idea, as a title, such as Slate culture critic Willa Paskin’s “In Its Immensely Satisfying Season Finale, Game of Thrones Became the Show It Had Always Tried Not to Be.” In both examples, the title provides an overall reason for the author’s judgment.

Although a simple rating might be effective when reviewing a business, reviews of creative works such as films, TV shows, visual arts, and books are more complex. Critics —professional writers who review creative works—like Willa Paskin try to review their subjects and at the same time analyze their subjects’ cultural significance. In addition to providing an overall judgment, critics guide audiences on how to view and understand a work within a larger cultural context. Critics provide this guidance by answering questions such as these:

  • In what genre would I place this work? Why?
  • What has this work contributed to its genre that other works have not?
  • How does the creator (or creators) of this work show they understand the culture (audience) that will view the work?
  • How does this work reflect the time in which it was created?

People look to critics not only to judge the overall quality of a work but also to gain insights about it.

Other writing genres feature characteristics similar to the review genre, using criteria and evidence to analyze and sometimes evaluate the effectiveness of written or visual text: Rhetorical Analysis: Interpreting the Art of Rhetoric, Print or Textual Analysis: What You Read, and Image Analysis: Writing About What You See.

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