Reading Response

The following is a list of the reading response groups and the weeks that you will be responsible for turning in a response. Please note that even if it is not your week to turn in a response, you should still do the reading and be prepared to contribute in class. Below the group lists are some guidelines for writing the one-page reading responses. 

GROUP 1 - Weeks 2, 4, 6, 10, 12

Julia Cohen, Katie Gruendel, Kristie Houghton, Joel Maiman, Liz Murphy, Julia Praeger

GROUP 2 - Weeks 3, 5, 7, 11, 13

Clayton Farris, Melissa Levin, Kate Marquis, Zurich Mutchler, Gabi Restrepo, Susu Schwaber, Johnny Worrall

Throughout the course, you will be required to read a series of scholarly articles and book excerpts. I have chosen these articles and book excerpts for several reasons. First, they offer diverse views and arguments about objects and/or themes that we will also discuss in class. Second, they are examples of good scholarly writing; they present complex ideas and arguments in clear, comprehensible prose. Third, they should be both challenging and accessible to you. I encourage you to take your time to read through them carefully; do not wait until the very last minute to write your reading responses.

Your reading response should answer the following questions:

-       What is the author’s main argument? Do not offer a step-by-step review of the article, but rather a summary of the main argument(s). What were the most crucial points in the reading? Try to answer this question in no more than a few sentences.

-       Which of the author’s main arguments did you find most convincing? Why? Please be very specific about why you found a certain argument convincing. Think about the author as a lawyer in a court room, trying to convince you, the jury, of his/her point. What steps did s/he take that really worked?

-       Which parts of the reading did you find the least convincing/most problematic? Why? Again, be very specific about what made certain parts of the article seem weaker than the rest. Writing that you found a paragraph boring is not a sufficient criticism! Make your critique substantive; it should address specific ways that the author used evidence and argumentation (or failed to use evidence and argumentation) to convince you.

-       When a primary source is assigned, explain how this primary source enriches (or challenges, or complicates) your understanding of the scholarly reading. What can the primary source tell you about the common theme the other readings address?

-       What is one question about an object or theme we discussed in class that this reading raised for you? This could be a question that you would like to ask the author, your professor, a curator, or even your classmates. This question provides a way for you to think about a possible avenue of further discussion that the reading has raised.

A reading response that earns an “A” will answer all the above questions. It will also use specific examples from the reading to support your analysis. Finally, it will be concise, to the point, and synthesize the reading in your own worlds. Please do not use direct quotations from the reading; I want to hear your voice. Each reading response should not exceed one page; the goal is for you to be as clear and concise as possible. Part of the goal of these reading responses is to encourage you to express your ideas succinctly, in concise prose. The responses must be typed in double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font with one-inch margins. Your name and the title and author of the reading should be included in a header in the margin (this will also give you extra space on your one page). Please refer to the notes on good writing and plagiarism in the syllabus. Grammar, syntax, spelling, organization, and clarity of thought count for these assignments.