Asian studies 150 Premodern Korean history
October 18, 2017
Book review guidelines
A critical evaluation of a book-length work that analyzes its thesis, structure, and arguments. 7-10 pages. You must also submit an additional annotated bibliography consisting of at least 5 sources on your chosen topic. Due Monday, December 11.
What your review should include:
Briefly introduce the book, it’s purpose, and your overall assessment of the work. Your assessment should take the form of a thesis statement, a specific argument that you will support with concrete evidence from the book and your background readings.
Introduce the author’s thesis and the content of the book. What arguments are made and how does the author make their case? Avoid repeating the table of contents, focus on the thesis and how it is developed. If the book is a collection of essays by various authors, discuss the overall theme and content and pick out several articles that you feel are most representative or important. This section should be brief (one page at most), context and critique are more important.
Place the book in its proper context by comparing it to other works on the same or similar topics. Where does the book being reviewed fit in with past and current scholarship? What is happening in this field of academia and how does the book contribute to the broader conversation? Be sure to mention whether the book provides new information, challenges existing perceptions, or adds support to earlier theories. If your book is more than ten years old, how have subsequent studies affected our perception of the work?
Support the thesis you developed in the introduction by making several specific arguments drawn from the text. You do not need to follow the format or chronology of the book as you discuss it. You can organize your arguments more usefully by themes, methods, or other elements of the book that are relevant to your thesis. It may be useful to directly compare the author’s arguments and evidence to those presented in other works but keep the focus on the book being reviewed.
Summarize your thesis and offer an overall assessment of the book and its place in existing scholarship. Which audience would you recommend it to? Based on the book’s strengths and weaknesses, how should it be approached by a general reader?
5-10 other works including articles and books on the same or similar topics. Each source should have a bibliographic entry and a paragraph summarizing its argument and relevance to your topic and book.
-Book reviews are not book reports. Your job is not to tell the reader what is in the book and how much you like it. Your job is to critique the book and place it in its proper academic context.
-Although you are writing a critique of an academic text, think of your review as a research paper in and of itself. Your review should have a clearly defined thesis, line of argument, and specific examples.
-Any general statements you make about the book should be backed up with concrete details and/or short citations from the text.
-You can and should point out shortcomings and problems with the book, but make sure your review is an assessment of the work itself and not the book you feel the author should have written.
-Many books have already been reviewed in major journals. Feel free to consult these and include them in your annotated bibliography. However, your own critique of the work must be original and not based on existing reviews.
-Try to be understanding and fair to the original author even if you have serious problems with the arguments presented. The best reviews are informative and generous, not scathing attacks or systematic takedowns.