Write a “critical” review that challenges some of the major assumptions in Bill Maher’s movie “Religulous.”
• This is not merely an opinion piece but a well thought out, critical, and researched work.
• You are not merely picking ideas out of the sky, but researching them and backing them up with clear reasoning and argumentation.
• Maher makes numerous historical and theological claims. Does he make mistakes? Is he clearly biased in some regard? How, why?
• Is his reasoning clear or flawed? In what ways?
• Does he accomplish what he sets out to do? If so, in what ways?
• Are there inconsistencies, errors, fallacies of reasoning in Maher’s approach that you can fix? If so do so.
Basic Structure Requirements
• Introduction: state what will happen in this essay
? What the topic is about
• E.g. what the author argues
? What you intend to persuade/convince the reader of
• The thesis you will argue for and the main points of how you will arrive at that
• Main Body of the essay: division into clear paragraphs
? Each paragraph should address a specific argument that is made by the author, or examined, or provided by you with the help of your research
? There need to be clear transitions of thought between paragraphs
? The main body of the essay needs to have a logical build up or structure that leads the reader to the main conclusion that proves the thesis
? Obvious objections to one’s argument must be considered and answered
• Conclusion: the concluding section needs to prove the thesis to be correct. This is not a mere restatement, but a pulling together of all main points argued in
Failure to follow any of these will result in a lower grade.
• Make sure you describe your topic at the beginning of the essay, so that we know what to expect.
• Create a title page and title for your essay.
The title page style is up to you but it should have your name, student ID, date of submission, and title of paper.
Use only your legal name as it appears on university documents, i.e., do not use short-form or abbreviated names.
• Give the word count on the title page.
• Present a clear thesis statement.
• Every idea, argument or fact that is not your own, i.e. derived from another source must be correctly referenced using APA or MLA or Chicago style.
Resources to Assist in Writing Style
Chicago and MLA styles are the most common styles in Liberal Arts/Humanities courses.
? If you use MLA it asks you to void endnotes. BUT YOU MUST Use endnotes anyway! Just bend the rules.
• You do NOT need a Works Cited or Bibliography page.
• Use endnotes rather than footnotes. Google “how to make endnotes” or try here
http://facstaff.bloomu.edu/hickey/ENDNOTE%20FORM.htm#How to Make numbers
? Compiling extra material (bibliographic, comments, etc.) at the end of a paper makes it easier to calculate the total number of pages used. Endnotes “do not”
count as part of the total page limit. Only the main body of your essay counts.
• You may use the personal pronoun “I” but avoid “you” and “we” (too general).
• Avoid contractions, e.g. “don’t” or “can’t”. Use “do not” or “cannot”.
• Use standard-size (8 ½x 11) paper,
1″ margins on all sides (“normal” setting in MS Word 2007 and newer),
page numbers (wherever), and
Times New Roman font – 12 pt.
Double-space your paper (not spacing of 1.8, 2.2, etc., I can tell), with your name and student I.D. somewhere obvious. Do not put extra spaces between paragraphs.
The Role of Quotations in Essays
• Avoid quotes (large or small) unless central to your discussion.
• If you quote something, discuss it at length.
• Avoid using quotes to deliver basic ideas or arguments that you could easily say yourself, in your own words.
• Quotes should NOT do the talking for you. You are the writer (the speaker), it is your voice the reader is hearing.
Essential elements that should be present in all papers:
(a) a sustained treatment of the major issues (rather than sporadic comments on minor issues),
(b) an argument for or against a specific view (including a counterargument to whatever position is taken),
(c) clear evidence of research (e.g., journal articles, book reviews),
(d) some connection between the material researched and a contemporary problem or issue it addresses (e.g., potentially solves), and
(e) clear evidence of your own views and opinions being challenged (i.e., stating what you think, and then producing questions that challenge your views—in short, show
that you are interacting with and thinking about the material sincerely).
• These are not merely opinion papers but research and critical discussion papers. Supply evidence for every claim you make.
• Avoid most “common” online materials (e.g., blogs, non-academic sites, anonymous websites). Good online material will be found, first and foremost, through a
library’s subscription to online content.
There is a lot of good material online but you need to be discerning. Is it peer-reviewed? Is it written by an academic? Is it accepted by other academics?
• Avoid using lecture notes.
The Five Paragraph Essay:
First Body Paragraph
Second Body Paragraph
Third Body Paragraph
The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the paper: it tells the reader what the essay is about. The last
sentence of this paragraph must also contain a transitional “hook” which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper.
Thesis: states the subject and suggests the direction the rest of the essay/paragraph will take.
A statement of opinion that is supported by facts. It has to be arguable. It makes a claim that is not self-evident. Avoid saying things like “Corruption is bad.”
Body — First paragraph:
The first paragraph of the body should contain the strongest argument, most significant example, cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point. The first
sentence of this paragraph should include the “reverse hook” which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductory paragraph. The topic for this
paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this
paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the second paragraph of the body.
Body — Second paragraph:
The second paragraph of the body should contain the second strongest argument, second most significant example, second cleverest illustration, or an obvious follow up
the first paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the first
paragraph of the body. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory
paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the third paragraph of the body.
Body — Third paragraph:
The third paragraph of the body should contain the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the
body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph. The topic for
this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this
paragraph should include a transitional concluding hook that signals the reader that this is the final major point being made in this paper. This hook also leads into
the last, or concluding, paragraph.
This paragraph should include the following:
1. an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph,
2. a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that “echoes” the original language. (The restatement, however, must not
be a duplicate thesis statement.)
3. a summary of the three main points from the body of the paper.
4. a final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. (This final statement may be a “call to action” in an persuasive
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