commentary essay

commentary essay

The commentaries are intended to help develop your understanding of the reading and to 

provide a basis for informed class discussion and exam responses. Your commentaries 

should meet two goals: 

1) Give a summary of the key point(s) made in the selected reading according to your 

understanding.  Provide evidence, 

including direct quotations

from the text, to support 

your summary.

2) Devote at least one full (substantial) paragraph to your own analysis of the reading.  

This response aspect of your commentary can be critical of the argument in the reading, 

or link the reading to another reading in the course, or raise questions prompted by the 

reading.  It should not involve an anecdotal reflection based on your own experiences.  

Each commentary must be typed and a 


of one full page in length, roughly 300 

words (double-spaced, 12-point font, 1” margins).  Do not limit yourself to one page if an 

adequate summary and response requires more details.  To effectively summarize the 

reading, you should 


relevant pages in parentheses within your text.  You are 

required to include page citations 

for paraphrased summaries, not just for direct quotes.  


One goal of this assignment is simply to have you write regularly in response 

to political science material. Half of the points on each commentary (10 out of 20) will 

therefore be awarded for completion of the basic requirements outlined above. The other 

half of the grade (between 1 and 10 points awarded) will be based on the quality of your 

analysis and the clarity of your presentation. All together, these commentaries are worth 10% of your grade (100 points total, 20 maximum per commentary). 

Part 1: reading: Hacker & Pierson, “Winner-Take-All Politics” 

second part. pg. 153-168 

Part 2: reading: Hacker & Pierson, “Winner-Take-All Politics” 

second part. pg. 168-197

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