You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


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 92.
  • y_2023, m_5, d_27, h_2
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.35
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_4, tr_88
  • loc_en_CA, sid_2133, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 11.26ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good but Hard Work This is more of a writing workshop than a seminar, at least to the extent that the video format allows. Rather than merely talking *about* principles of writing, Dr. Armstrong works with the student (as much as one-way communication allows) to develop those writing skills. She works through each principle in the lectures (usually one or two principles per lecture) and she gives relevant and achievable writing assignments at the end of each lecture in the course guide. More than most offerings by The Great Courses (TGC), this course requires the students to work hard. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of principles. The first kind of principles are those principles around *what* to write. This includes how to construct an essay, how to employ metaphors, etc. Here, Dr. Armstrong invokes the great writers of the English language to illustrate the point, writers such as Austen, Douglas, Melville, Poe, Thoreau, etc. The second kind of principles are those principles around *how* to write. This includes such mechanics as how to research, how to schedule, how to edit, etc. I found it important to follow along in the Course Guide as I listened to the lectures. There are no useful graphics in the course guide, but each lecture in the course guide includes some exercises that truly help in absorbing the material in that lecture. I used the video version. The video version displays texts that she analyzes; it is helpful to have those texts visible while listening to her analysis. Otherwise, the audio-only would work OK such as when jogging or commuting. The course was published in 2011.
Date published: 2022-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unusually Talented Teacher, Vital Topic This is not just about writing, it is about thinking. Armstrong is an accomplished, animated lecturer who presents details of of analysis, critical thinking and composition that are normally skipped in English and writing academic courses. As an Engineer, I recommend this course to anyone pursuing a career in engineering, mathematics, science and computer programming since it presents, in immediately usable terms, a process for doing engineering, mathematics, science and computer programming that is frequently missing from college educations in these fields. The skills learned will greatly enhance your success and productivity.
Date published: 2022-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Any aspiring or established writer should watch these lectures and take notes. The professor provides excellent advice, such as learning to read as a writer, put into use the techniques of various genres into whatever you are writing, develop your writer's voice for various genres, learn how to write a persuasive argument, understand your audience, and much. By completing this course, you'll acquire new tools and a new perspectives on how to write anything, which means you'll be able to improve your writing.
Date published: 2022-02-21
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
  • y_2023, m_5, d_27, h_2
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.35
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_4, tr_88
  • loc_en_CA, sid_2133, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 3.76ms


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

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


Purdue University

Dorsey Armstrong is a Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she is also the head of the Department of English. She received her PhD in Medieval Literature from Duke University. She is the executive editor of the academic journal Arthuriana, which publishes cutting-edge research on the legend of King Arthur, from its medieval origins to its modern enactments. She is a recipient of the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, Purdue’s top undergraduate teaching honor. Her other Great Courses include The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague and The Medieval World.

By This Professor

King Arthur: History and Legend
The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague
Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Years That Changed History: 1215
Great Minds of the Medieval World
La Peste Negra: La Plaga Más Devastadora del Mundo
The Black Death: New Lessons from Recent Research
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