Critical Reading Exercise

Overview
You must write a 3-4 page cri3cal summary of one of the ar3cles assigned as required reading from
classes 4 or 5:
o Bohannan, Laura. 1966. Shakespeare in the Bush. Natural History (Aug.-Sept.), 28-33.
o Gmelch, George. 1971. Baseball Magic. Trans-Ac2on 8, no. 8, 39-41.
o Miner, Horace. 1956. Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist 58, no.
3,:503-507.
Purpose
The point of this exercise is to give you prac3ce with:
o reading assigned material cri3cally, and for specific content;
o ci3ng ideas and informa3on thoroughly and accurately;
o and making connec3ons between ethnographic examples and anthropological concepts.
Content
Your summary must address the following points:
1. Argument and Suppor3ng Points (40-50% of total content)
o Summarize the author’s argument, and two or three of the key points the author makes to
support that argument.
o Conven3onal ar3cles will usually outline the argument near the beginning of the introduc3on
(much like a thesis statement in an essay) – but the argument is not always this easy to find.
o To fully appreciate the argument, it is always necessary to read the en3re ar3cle and think about
it as a whole.
2.Relevance to Course Content (20-30% of total content)
o Each ar3cle expands upon the themes of the video lecture in the week for which it is assigned.
o Explain what the ar3cle can add to lecture material regarding the topic of the week, and how
lecture material can enrich our understanding of the ar3cle.
3. Cri3cal Ques3ons and Concerns (20-30% of total content)
o Outline and explain two or three cri3cal ques3ons or concerns about the ar3cle that you would
ask the author if you could.
o These ques3ons should address gaps, issues, and/or problems you may have iden3fied in the
ar3cle. Yes/no or factual ques3ons are not adequate for this sec3on.
o Issues to consider when formula3ng your ques3ons include:
o Are there aspects of the author’s argument that leave you unconvinced?
o Do you see any traces of older approaches to ethnography that contemporary
anthropologists try to avoid? (ethnocentrism, typological thinking, cultural evolu3onism,
etc.)
o Does this portrayal of the community seem representa3ve, or are some groups
excluded?
Cita4ons
o It is impera3ve that you cite thoroughly and accurately.
o Every 3me you men3on an idea or fact derived from the ar3cle, you must note the page number
on which it appeared – whether you men3on it in direct quotes or by paraphrasing. For example,
Malinowski’s hypothesis about magic is highly relevant to baseball (Gmelch, 1971: 39).
o The above is just one example to get started – there is much more to ci3ng properly. See the
How & Why to Cite instruc3onal video (required viewing for October 19).

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