Information for those doing book/article reviews

As you’ll recall, one of the optional assignments available is a book or article review. This post contains the information necessary to complete this assignment. Please remember that this post is only relevant to you if you have chosen this optional assignment.

A book or article review will be a short essay (1000-1500 words), in which you must select one book or three articles to review. I am rather open about what texts can be selected; however, they must be scholarly books and articles, and they must be relevant to this class (usually, this means that they must address either the questions we have been exploring in this class, or more commonly, they must discuss one of the theorists we have been covering). After you read this text, you must write an essay in which you present and assess the core claims the author makes. That is, you have to explain what the author is doing in the text and then evaluate it. In order to evaluate a text, you should consider addressing questions like the following (please note, these questions are not all required, nor is this list exhaustive; the point of these questions is simply to get you thinking in the right direction): What evidence does the author present on behalf of his/her claims? Is the evidence true? Does it support the main claim? What is useful or problematic about one of the author’s claims? Does the claim promote or undermine various useful forms of politics? What implications might there be to the author’s position(s)? Are there implications that the author ignores but you wish to highlight? Is the author’s argument useful for issues that the author does not consider? What might these other issues be? And so on. You may find some of these texts to be difficult, so I strongly encourage you to discuss them with me before turning in your review. Your review will be due on MAY 9.

How do you find scholarly books and articles? I might recommend that you start with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This resource can help introduce you to the many issues surrounding a subject or a philosopher, and will also contain a useful bibliography that you can look at. To find the materials cited in the encyclopedia or other relevant books and articles, you’ll need to use the library’s resources. You can find books through the voyager catalog. Finding articles is a bit trickier, but happily, the subject librarians link to the relevant databases. I would suggest that you search through either the Philosopher’s Index or the Political Science Complete database. You can find the Philosopher’s Index linked from Eileen Daly’s website at the library (she is the philosophy librarian at the UR), and you can find the Political Science Complete database on Ann Marshall’s website (she is the political science librarian). Finally, if you are having problems finding material that is interesting or useful, please contact me, or contact one of the librarians; they are very helpful.

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