Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Helpful for all writers! The presentations are very clear and concise, with practical advice which is helpful for any genre of writing. This was VERY helpful for my Creative Writing class.
Date published: 2019-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just what I was looking for! I have had the inclination to seriously get into writing for a few years and felt I not only needed a push but also structure. I am just getting into the course with the intent to take complete advantage of both the videos and workbook. So far it is excellent and just what I was looking for.
Date published: 2019-05-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dissappointing The professor seems to be reading quickly from a script. There is no emphasis on important points. No effort to engage the student or relate in any way. Only a recital of information with hardly a change of inflection. It is not worth the effort to try to follow what is being said. I am sure the professor knows the material but rushes through it without concern for how the student receives it. I have taken over a dozen of these courses and virtually all the others have been excellent. This one is lame.
Date published: 2019-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Resource You Will Revisit I originally got this while I was driving long distances for work, but having enjoyed it once, I find myself returning to sharpen my skills when I need some encouragement. The title doesn't say enough about the focus on writing creatively and how it will offer a foundation from which to examine your writing, improve your writing, and look at the writing of others with a keener eye. It is helpful, enjoyable, and always give me enthusiasm to work more - try something new - be brave. A great course!
Date published: 2019-02-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Poor Explanation I found the lecturer was not engaging, failing to take into account of the needs and interests of the listener. The presentation has a sort of manufactured character that makes it uninteresting.
Date published: 2019-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from power of words It started slow and I had a hard time being interested. I feel that teacher may start w/ autobiography to get interest of the reader and then move into the other things. I loved the power of words and story of the Scotsman and his bagpipes. It brought tears to my eyes. I wondered who was the author. I will go back and review
Date published: 2019-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from No comment It is very theoretical for my tasty in the 5 first chapeters. I was not motivated to continue but my intention is to finish it.
Date published: 2018-08-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not enjoying the course Lectures feel condescending; almost as if I should have know the lesson before I watched it. I’ve stopped watching them for now. I was hoping for some useful instruction toward technical reports.
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly descriptive but course is much more This is an outstanding course - one of the best I have taken. Professor Dorsey is excellent at every level: engaging, humorous, and insightful
Date published: 2017-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exactly what I wanted. I was looking for a course to follow up Writing Great Sentences leaning more toward essay writing. Analysis and Critique is perfect. It is concise and direct each section building on the last, to the point. Great instructor.
Date published: 2017-06-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing: not a course for aspiring writers. If you want a course that will help you become an effective writer, this isn't it. Take a look at Brooks Landon's course on Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writers Craft. It is excellent. So why I buy this course? Marketing. Yes, the marketing profile is persuasive, but deceptive. At a glance, the outline presents the areas one would expect a course for aspiring writers would cover. The earlier lectures present high-level samples of topical analysis and critique by classic writers like Jonathan Swift and Thomas Paine. These samples could serve the instructor well if she followed up by deconstructing them to show aspiring writers how the authors solved the challenge they were addressing: how to structure their message, line-by-line, to present their stories. She starts down the path of this type of analysis but stops. Instead, she relies on sweeping, universal statements — a practice she specifically denounces and tells customers not to do — to make her points. The audience for this course, it seems, is high school level students, perhaps those spanning grade levels 9-10. If I’m correct in this respect, this is troublesome, because this course may exemplify why so many young people today cannot write fluently. It’s clear the author tried to structure this course to address the interests of the broadest audience. For that, she gets a 5-star rating for effort. But the outcome is a work product that doesn’t achieve the course objective.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from More about analysis, not enough about writing I was disappointed by this course. It was not what I thought it would be. I found it to be more about dissecting other's writing, and not enough about becoming better at your own writing.
Date published: 2017-05-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good material, but Professor Armstrong Armstrong could benefit from speech coach help to ameliorate her "valley girl" delivery.
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Precise thought! I like the old school learning, things that have been forgotten instilled back in the mind.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent help for a first-time writer in polishin This course was a great help in giving me good ideas for polishing the first dsraft of my first novel!
Date published: 2017-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very engaging and educational Professor Armstrong is a very engaging and knowledgeable instructor. Lessons were informative and to-the-point. I came away with some great ways to improve my writing, and was able to implement some of the ideas right after listening.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good course This was a good course. I rated it with four stars, which may be a bit generous, but three stars seems a bit harsh. My writing is primarily nonfiction, so aside from a few points, I considered the information interesting rather than useful. While I will mark that I would recommend this program to a friend, it would come with a caveat: what type of writing do they wish to do/use it for.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT FOR COLLEGE-BOUND KIDS i've purchased your writing courses before - one for my son on sentence structure, etc. - excellent - this one is for my good friend's college-bound daughter - she's a fairly decent writer but needs help with engaging her audience, transitional sentences, grammatical points, etc. i added a Tiffany pen to complete the gift, and she was thrilled.
Date published: 2016-06-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for Authors I got this with the working theory that it would help me edit my book before publication. I have finished writing a restaurant marketing and management book, which is generally in the non-fiction genre. I wrote about 500 pages, so a course such as this, one would think, would help along those lines. This course does not help you either analyze or critique your own work, as the title suggests. She basically rambles on about English literature, the best prose of all time, Shakespeare, the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, and her favorite parts about all these great works and why they are effective. That is fine, but it does not help me edit my own work at all. It would not help me if my work was fiction, either. It is just opinion after opinion about what makes works great literature. I wish there was a course that actually helped you edit your work. So I guess if you want to learn about the great works of literature throughout the ages this is fine, but don't get this if you think it will help you edit your own essays or books. I will send it back soon to get something else...anything else that can actually add some knowledge to my life that will actually help me in some way.
Date published: 2016-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course Although this course covered many topics and writings familiar from high school and college, it was refreshing in both senses of the word. And, Professor Armstrong is quite engaging. In fact, while I have no particular interest in Arthurian legend, I am considering purchasing her course on that subject. This course will not magically turn a person into a full-fledged writer as some of the naysayers seem to want. Rather, it gently nudges the writing instincts. As for Professor Armstrong's presentation, I found the negative comments condescending as opposed to her presentation, which was clear and on point.
Date published: 2016-03-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Delivery Matters! Prof needs some training The content in this course is good. I would recommend it for someone in the early stages of working to build a career in writing. The greatest challenge for me was listening to the presenter. I found it challenging. I've spent my career in the communications and I know that "Delivery Matters." I noticed in reviews for other courses, there are occasional comments about the weaknesses of the presenters. Having worked with academics and scientists in my role as communications professional, I know presentation can be a work in progress. I would only suggest spending a little more time working the professors and presenters on delivery that engages and inspires audiences. I'm sure some will disagree but in this day & you communicate is as important as what you communicate. My favorite saying these days -- It's not what you say, it's people hear that matters!"
Date published: 2015-10-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice course for beginers I am working in the writing field for 5 years, have bought this course to improve my writing skills, but from the whole course i didn't know 5-8% of the information. I work as a freelancer at essay writing service and hoped that there will be some useful information. But for people who has decided to make writing their job it is very good course, worth of buying.
Date published: 2015-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write . . Not only am I a published writer, but I am also a teacher of writing and of the law, both at the undergrad and grad levels. I provide this information not to toot a horn, but to state that I hope I am as effective a teacher as Dr. Armstrong. I have taken many writing courses and hold a Master's Degree in Professional Writing, so the discipline of writing and teaching writing is not a new thing for me. But, this course was new, and as good or better than any of its type I have thus far seen. I could go on for a while, but I will tell you that I cannot recall the number of times I have blanched, choked, sputtered, and where possible, corrected users of "ironically" when they mean "coincidentally." Finding that this is a sore spot with Dr. Armstrong solidified the very favorable impression I have of her course. This one is worth more than the price. Neil
Date published: 2015-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent - delivers more than it promises I loved this course. I have spent my life reading technical books and never quite had the time nor inclination to read novels or the classics. This course opened my eyes and brought me straight up-to-date with an understanding of literature. I now read with real insight. Highly recommend this course. The professor is top notch.
Date published: 2015-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent introduction to writing This is a very engaging introduction to writing. However, each lecture could be a course in itself. I do find I am reading more critically but not ready to write.
Date published: 2015-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Guide I was very impressed with Professor Dorsey Armstrong's command of language and writing as well as her engaging style of teaching. This course helped me refine my writing skills for the better!
Date published: 2015-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Drastic Improvement For My Son! I purchased this course hoping to help my home schooled son improve his writing ability. All i can say is that this course has more than delivered! I would highly recommend this course to anyone who desires to improve their writing skills.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As good as it gets Of all my Great Courses (20 or so) this one has benefited me the most. I have technical degrees and a lot of experience with business and technical writing including 3 books and many papers. I thought I wrote well. This course produced the greatest improvement in my writing since 3rd Grade! It broadened how I approach a topic and improved my sense of how to reach the intended audience. I have gifted this course and used it to help employees with writing issues. Dorsey Armstrong is superb with her insight and presentation. We all need to communicate, and we do our most enduring communication through writing. This course is a wonderful opportunity to improve each of ours. I recommend it highly.
Date published: 2015-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Learn how to write at home I have been writing for years but never studied it. This introduces me to a new way of thinking about writing which I appreciate. I am elderly so have to think about the material very hard and watch it and read it a few times, but in the end, I get there. I am only on lesson 3, so I hope the professor does more than just stand and talk ... perhaps use the chalkboard or displays.
Date published: 2015-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A friendly, general introduction to writing As is obvious from the very title, this course is very general. It will introduce you to the art of writing (and reading), and present to you the basics. What I liked: * All types/genres of writing discussed. * The relationship between writing, reading and different types of writing explained and cleared. * Easy and extremely interesting to follow. * Various books discussed, and great examples. * Teaches in great depth how to write essays. * Lecturer shows us how she, as a university professor, grades her students. Consider before watching * The course has a particular focus on writing essays (arguments). * The course organizes some important ideas, many of which you are probably already aware of. * Little thinking is required to follow this course (the lecturer does the thinking for you). * Quotes comprise significant portions of the transcripts of every lecture. If you plan on watching it, do consider having access to the course guidebook, since it's frequently mentioned in the lecture. Obviously, i LOVED the course: that's why I gave it 5 stars! The lecturer was professional and provided a well-organized and enjoyable course. You might not gain a lot of knowledge about a specific genre of writing, but I highly recommend this course to everybody: whether you're beginning to write, or have been writing for years, you will enjoy this course. The other courses I've recommended are simply courses that are more specific about their subject. If you know about the genre of writing you're interested in learning about, TTC offers many specific Great Courses.
Date published: 2014-10-04
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Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Course Trailer
How to Write about Anything
1: How to Write about Anything

What makes a particular piece of writing "good"? As you explore Professor Armstrong's roadmap for the course, examine how a range of writing samples-including an essay by Virginia Woolf, poetry by Homer, and even a short note from a teenage girl to her mother-demonstrate essential aspects of effective writing....

33 min
How to Be an Effective Reader
2: How to Be an Effective Reader

Active, insightful reading skills are essential to any writer's success. View the craft of writing from the reader's perspective and train yourself to recognize nuanced moments and ideas in literary texts, including Moby-Dick and Le Morte Darthur, as well as the subtleties hidden within a practical set of driving directions....

30 min
How Literature Can Help
3: How Literature Can Help

Investigate the dominant characteristics and conventions of five major genres of literature: prose, poetry, drama, essay, and autobiography. Then discover how, when used properly and with restraint, the distinct approaches of these genres can offer you a strong foundation and helpful inspiration for all sorts of writing projects....

27 min
Shaping Your Voice
4: Shaping Your Voice

Focus now on prose-the most common form of writing people engage with. Why is a writer's voice such an important part of his or her work? How can you create a distinctive voice? What can authors like Hemingway, James, and Salinger teach you about the varieties of narrative styles?...

30 min
Knowing Your Reader
5: Knowing Your Reader

A common danger for a writer is not respecting your audience. Learn how to avoid this pitfall by deducing the intended audience for Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," and by closely reading student essays that miss, misjudge, or offend their intended readers....

29 min
The Art of the Essay-How to Start
6: The Art of the Essay-How to Start

Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" are two of the most famous argumentative essays in the Western literary tradition. Using their opening passages, examine why it's so important that your opening argument be specific, be substantive, and pass what Professor Armstrong calls the "What?/So What?" test....

29 min
How to Organize an Argument
7: How to Organize an Argument

Continue unpacking "A Modest Proposal" and "Civil Disobedience" (along with Paine's "Common Sense")-this time to learn how to write an organized and effective argument. Once you've mastered this skill, you'll be able to more effectively guide your readers, as well as avoid structural flaws that may distort your goals....

31 min
Supporting Your Argument
8: Supporting Your Argument

To write persuasively, you have to effectively explain your supporting evidence. Three skills you focus on in this lecture: explaining how a piece of evidence works in your favor; providing a direct connection between your evidence and your conclusion; and acknowledging the arguments of others to strengthen your own....

30 min
Finishing Strong
9: Finishing Strong

Enhance the way you finish essays with three key strategies. A "negative consequences" conclusion underscores the negative things that can happen if readers fail to support your argument. A "no viable alternatives" strategy suggests that alternatives to your proposal aren't likely to work. And the "positive consequences" strategy emphasizes new possibilities....

30 min
The Uses of Poetry
10: The Uses of Poetry

How can poetry help you write better, even when you're not writing poems? Here, Professor Armstrong uses poems to show that how you arrange your words can have as much of an impact as what they say. Also, delve deeper into the importance of tone and poetic devices like metaphors and similes....

30 min
Poetic Diction and Syntax
11: Poetic Diction and Syntax

Continue your exploration of poetry and the ways it can enliven and strengthen writing. With the aid of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lewis Carroll, and e. e. cummings, grasp how specific words (with their literal and associated meanings) can make your writing more engaging-especially when they are used in an unconventional order....

29 min
Drama-Writing Out Loud
12: Drama-Writing Out Loud

With Shakespeare's help, discover how to tap into drama's potential to transform you into a stronger, more confident "out loud" writer. Approaching your writing as something to be read out loud can, unlike other literary genres, clue you in to awkward turns of phrase, extremely long sentences, and other potential writing pitfalls....

29 min
What You Can Learn from Autobiography
13: What You Can Learn from Autobiography

Analyze excerpts from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography for strategies to use when you are called to write about yourself. These include confining personal information to the areas of your interests, abilities, and achievements; striking a balance between self-promotion and association with others; and presenting your failures as a part of your personal development....

19 min
Writing and Leadership
14: Writing and Leadership

Autobiographies are rich sources of knowledge for understanding how leadership styles and skills are developed and honed. Explore the crucial link between autobiographical writing and leadership with the aid of both Franklin and Frederick Douglass. Also, look closely at the potential benefits of using selective emotional expression in your autobiographical writing....

31 min
The Rules of Rhetoric
15: The Rules of Rhetoric

In the first of three lectures on using classical rhetoric to fashion your identity as a writer, investigate four widely used rhetorical concepts. These include commonplaces (pieces of truth wrapped in easily recognizable language), stasis (the general agreement between opposing parties about the terms of the argument), and deductive reasoning....

30 min
Invention and Arrangement
16: Invention and Arrangement

Turn to two broader areas of classical rhetoric: invention and arrangement. Invention refers to the process by which you generate your arguments. Arrangement refers to the way your argument is organized. Both, as you'll learn, center on seizing opportunities to write the right thing, in the right way, at the right time....

30 min
Ethos and Pathos
17: Ethos and Pathos

Finish building your rhetorical tool kit by looking at ethos (the perception readers have of your reliability) and pathos (the feelings of emotion you inspire in your readers). Using literary and everyday examples, Professor Armstrong demonstrates how the best persuasive writing-whether it's a speech or a job application-strikes a balance between the two....

33 min
Finding What You Need
18: Finding What You Need

One practical concern of writing is research. Where do you begin? How do you build an effective research schedule? What are some clues that online sources are reliable? And at what point should you stop researching and start writing? Learn the answers to these and other questions in this lecture....

30 min
Using What You Find
19: Using What You Find

Now that you've learned how to find information, figure out the best ways to use it. Some of the tips and techniques you explore here include how to take effective notes, how to build your research on the work of others, and even what to do when you uncover scholarship that counters your argument....

30 min
Getting Started-Writing First Drafts
20: Getting Started-Writing First Drafts

You've got your topic. You've done the research. Now it's time for your first draft. Do you write for a time limit? Do you just throw out all your ideas onto the page and return later? Do you get a writing partner? Find out which of these and other methods work for you....

30 min
Editing-Finding What's Wrong
21: Editing-Finding What's Wrong

Editing what you've written is just as important, if not more so, than actually writing it. In fact, this stage of the writing process can make the difference between a piece of writing that's just okay and one that's great. Here, consider two major approaches to editing: the line-by-line approach and the holistic approach....

29 min
Rewriting-Fixing What's Wrong
22: Rewriting-Fixing What's Wrong

Learn how rewriting can dramatically reshape and strengthen your work as Professor Armstrong takes you on a paragraph-by-paragraph revision of a short essay. Then, finish the lecture with vital tips to keep in mind when rewriting your work, such as clearly stating your thesis and always spelling out points....

29 min
Avoiding Common Errors in Grammar and Usage
23: Avoiding Common Errors in Grammar and Usage

Subject-pronoun disagreement. Misused apostrophes and commas. Dangling modifiers. Commonly misspelled words. Finally learn how to avoid these and other frequently made errors in grammar and usage. Any successful writing should be attentive to these errors-no matter what you're writing or whom you're writing to....

33 min
The Power of Words
24: The Power of Words

In this inspirational final lecture, sample three particularly fine and engaging examples of writing-Thoreau's Walden, Shakespeare's sonnet number 130, and an obituary in The Economist-that bring home some of the many invaluable lessons, strategies, ideas, and advice you've learned and which ones you can use any time you write....

30 min
Dorsey Armstrong

Every turning point in the medieval world discussed in these lectures shifted the flow of the river of history, bringing us ever closer to the modern world.


Duke University


Purdue University

About Dorsey Armstrong

Dr. Dorsey Armstrong is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she has taught since 2002. The holder of an A.B. in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from Duke University, she also taught at Centenary College of Louisiana and at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include medieval women writers, late-medieval print culture, and the Arthurian legend, on which she has published extensively, including the 2009 book Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur: A New Modern English Translation Based on the Winchester Manuscript and Gender and the Chivalric Community in Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur, published in 2003. In January 2009, she became editor-in-chief of the academic journal Arthuriana, which publishes the most cutting-edge research on the legend of King Arthur, from its medieval origins to its enactments in the present moment. Her current research project-Mapping Malory's Morte-is an exploration of the role played by geography in Malory's version of the story of King Arthur.

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