Essay Tip Sheet #3

Essay #3: Critique of Oppenheim on Television Violence

The Writing Assignment

For this assignment, you will compose a 4-page critique of the Oppenheim article. The critique should communicate your understanding of the article's main points and offer an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.

An Observation

In your previous writing, many of you have gone to one of these extremes:

This essay asks for something else: a considered opinion based on facts and logic. If you just give us the data on both sides, you have not done an analysis; you have done the pre-writing to allow your reader to write this paper. If you only discuss your feelings ("I like this because …"), you have not given the reader the tools needed to form an opinion. A report of your emotions does not help me figure out whether Oppenheim makes sense.

Hints for Success

Every piece of writing is an answer to a question. (You knew that already.) To make this essay work, you must remember the question you are attempting to answer. These are not your questions:

Oppenheim says he is not dealing with "Is watching TV violence harmful to children?" I'm not sure he's being entirely truthful there.

Your central question is whether Oppenheim presented an effective argument.

One more observation

This article was written 36 years ago, so you will be tempted to get tangled up in history. In 1984, Reagan was still President, and the Internet (along with violent video games) had not yet been invented.

On the other hand, it would certainly be valid to ask whether the Oppenheim article still makes sense in 2020. A valid academic approach would be "that was then, but this is now." After you have discussed whether the article was effective in 1984, a discussion of 2020 would certainly be appropriate. Things have changed a lot in 36 years.

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Revised 1/1/20 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: