Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

Discover the secrets to clear and strong writing in 24 accessible and practical lectures that provide engaging literary and everyday examples, inspirational prompts, and unforgettable insights.
Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 89.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good advice to improve your writing... When I first started watching this series I was having awful flashbacks to my freshman English classes back in medieval times. However, Professor Armstrong grew on me and those went away. There is a lot of good information here, and with practice and use I am sure it will improve my writing. There were 2 or 3 sessions that I did not find that interesting, but overall she keeps you engaged. I do know that if I were one of her students, I would be memorizing these classes! I found it worth my time.
Date published: 2021-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent instructor What most impressed me was Professor Armstrong's manner of presentation. She would review her previous lecture at the beginning and then at the conclusion of the current lecture would tie up all loose ends. I obtained so many helpful ideas for writing my new book and looked forward to each of her lectures. I would certainly consider purchasing another course taught by her.
Date published: 2020-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Good Blueprint for Writing most Anything This course is an excellent way for people to learn how to produce written documents that are important. It explains how the material should be organized to have the greatest effect on the reader. The material in this course is well organized and is presented clearly.
Date published: 2020-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a great buy. I am not what you my consider an educated person. Through out my life I have had many thoughts that I wanted to put together in the form of a book but didn’t know how. This set of lectures has given me the foundation and confidence that I am using to work towards my goal of being a writer.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good overall course I learned a lot about writing in a variety of genres. Very pleasant to watch and listen to.
Date published: 2020-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Many 'take away' messages Many negative reviewers seem to be obsessed with the professor's reference to her students, and mistakenly relate that to the level of her comments. They forget that good writing spans all ages of writer. She uses many examples from skilled writers in order to arrive at conclusions that one can apply to one's own writing. Although she is a very animated speaker (which some reviewers find distracting), I did not find that this characteristic diminished what she had to say. I have other lectures by this professor, so I am accustomed to these foibles. In fact, all lectures had really interesting insights, which I have used to improve my grandson's application forms. Possibly a little long-winded in places, but, overall, very worthwhile.
Date published: 2020-01-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I agree with other reviewers. This is the most disappointing course I have bought from TC. The title is misleading and the presentation is dull. Despite some attempts to include other writing forms, it is predominantly about writing college papers and there are repetitive comment about grades. I was hoping to learn something useful but struggled to maintain interest.
Date published: 2019-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great videos I bought this a while ago and have been very happy with it. It has been teaching me how to come up with idea to write about every day things that I wouldn't even think about writing.
Date published: 2019-09-14
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Discover the concepts and methods for clear and strong writing in the 24 accessible and practical lectures of Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything. Delivered by Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University, this course immerses you in the elements of successful writing, from organizing your thoughts to making persuasive arguments to avoiding common grammatical errors. With its engaging literary and everyday examples, inspirational prompts, and unforgettable insights, these lectures make the perfect reference guide for both professional and casual writers.


Dorsey Armstrong
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.


Purdue University

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.

By This Professor

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything


How to Write about Anything

01: 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

02: 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

03: 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

04: 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

05: 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

06: 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

07: 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

08: 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

09: 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