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Reading Responses

Your responses to the essays should provoke response in your reader. That's the whole point of these exercises: you respond to the writers and I respond to you and the conversation goes on forever.

I'd like to follow-up a bit, maybe give you a way to treat reading responses that will make sense now that you have had ample experience responding to each other's papers and to the essays in our book.

Since a summary and response is a part of the University Writing Exam, which you will take for practice in English 101 or 101.10 and for real in your junior year, some additional things to think about might be appropriate at this point.

Respond, don't review.

Treat the writers like classmates and treat their essays like paper drafts that you have been asked to peer respond to.

One way to do that might be to look at these essays as works in progress and not as finished pieces.  When you finish reading the essays in The Mercury Reader, pretend that the writer has asked you two open-ended peer review questions.  Here are two questions the writers in our textbook might ask:

  • Did I miss anything? Can you think of a point, example, or connection that I missed in this draft? (kinda vague, but you get the point).
  • Have you ever had any experience with this paper topic?  What additional information would you add if you were writing this paper?

The idea is not to comment on or report on what the writers have written: the idea is to look at their work as the beginning of a conversation on the topic, and you are the next person to speak/write in that conversation. When you respond, you don't simply agree or disagree with what has been said: in your agreement or disagreement, you extend or grow the knowledge on that topic.

I've seen you guys doing this all semester in your peer responses and conversations with one another. Every time you write or say to one another "maybe you should add a point about." or "have you considered adding something about the way that." or "I disagree with you here because in my experience." you have extended the knowledge of the writer. That's what you are being asked to do when you respond to the essays in our text.

Use the essays in our text as jumping off points.  Look at those essays as early drafts, unfinished works that will be transformed or improved by the information/stories/
examples/counterpoints/opinions you are able to add to that topic. 

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