I have come to learn over the semester that the critic has many roles. It’s their professional opinion that is valued, it should be understood and also to a degree be persuasive. It is essential that the critic has a great understanding of their text and that should be evident in their writing. The critic’s tone should emulate them as a writer, putting themselves forward as the persona they create; owning their prose and the opinions they have formulated.
Over the semester I found that the discussions we had in class were crucial to the development of my writing. For example, the very first session in which we put forward our first short piece of critical review writing and then looked at each other’s work was hugely beneficial. I suddenly saw what my classmates saw when they were reading my work. The physical aspect is important, looking at the piece of paper that’s been written on, with ticks and underlines, notes of encouragement and constructive criticism. It brought me straight back to high school class and how you would feel when the teacher hands your work back. Aside from that it made you responsible for your writing. Throughout university we are constantly submitting our work online, a quick click and it’s gone. Only to receive a grade and never think of it again. It was grounding this semester to get back into the workshopping and learning styles that are so effective in secondary college. It was this constant reading of each other’s work, explaining your concepts outloud to then realise why it doesn’t make sense on the page; that was the shining light of this studio. It made you want to be better, and understand the role of the critic more. I noticed it with the people that continued to turn up to class, they were invested in this learning, making it special.
Towards the end of the semester we began to conduct group critique sessions. They were a pivotal moment and should have been something that were scattered throughout the semester simply because they were so incredibly beneficial. We were all give a week to write for. Write a review with the knowledge that this piece would be read aloud by Alexia and critiqued and analysed by all class members. Daunting. The class critiques session were more valuable I would say than Alexandra’s critique session, despite the anxious hype that surrounded it. She was incredibly nice through her constructive analysis, almost too nice for us to get anything out of it. Every mistake is the chance to better yourself, but you can only better yourself if you are made aware of your mistakes.
Our group sessions were lovely, everyone was so understanding of each other, knowing that soon it would be their spot in the limelight. Because of this people were constructive, kind and encouraging but used their brains as reference points to help better your work! It was like an editing suite for the next article being posted in our class magazine; we wanted the best from each student. I learnt to move past my fear of others reading my work. I learnt to back myself out. I realise that I hide behind the word perhaps. In a critical review you must stand behind your opinions and this word was my scapegoat when I wasn’t sure. I found by simply deleting it and making a statement it was much more powerful. Confident. Something to be admired in critical review writing, as long as you have the research and expertise to back yourself. When our work was read aloud you could see the author cringing when something sounded off. This class taught me the power of reading your work aloud. It is quickest way I know to edit my work, it is really confronting at first. And yes you do feel like a bit of a looney, but it’s worth it.
I learnt so much from my peers this semester on how to be a great critic. I realised there are so many different ways to go about writing a critical review. Just hearing everyone’s take on a movie or tv show or new album was fantastic. I found that writing reviews and sharing what we have written brings people together. It promotes discussion and essentially makes people want to do something, whether that be jump in the car and head off to the movies or be a reminder to never watch that T.V show. Writing critical reviews is not simply about rehashing a storyline; it is commenting on the social, historical and at times political placement of the text within society. Over the semester I continued to understand its importance within popular and niche culture. I have grown to love this style of writing and the never ending amount of topics available to us.