respond papers

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Response Papers


12:30 p.m. EST

Last day to submit response paper 2

Length: 1-2 pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins, not including list of works cited)

Format: MLA (including in-text citations and list of works cited)

Response papers may be turned in any day there is assigned reading (and must be about that day’s assigned reading). Only one response paper can be submitted per class.


Response papers are different from essays. Response papers are less formal and more personal than analytical essays—therefore using the personal pronoun “I” and referring to personal experiences is more acceptable in response papers than in essays. Like in essays, textual evidence (both paraphrased and quoted directly) must be included in response papers. Unlike essays, response papers do not need to be organized around a thesis statement.

Rather, a response paper is your chance to communicate in writing your personal viewpoint and personal learning as they relate specifically to the assigned reading in question and the ideas and values contained therein. A good response paper will artfully make a connection between the subject at hand and your own experience. A response paper is intended to be a transformative experience. The text, the artifact alone, has no meaning; it is given meaning by the reader. You are being asked to transform the new experience into a context that is meaningful to you, born of the interaction of reader’s and writer’s meanings.

A response paper is not intended to be a comprehension test, a book review, (i.e. “I really enjoyed the…”) or a rehashing of the content or story (i.e. “this happened, and then that happened”). A response paper is not a summary. The tone can be more informal than a traditional essay. Your reader is familiar with the text, and is



interested in discerning how deeply you have thought about the concepts, values, belief systems and attitudes that exist at the heart of the work. You might think of a response paper as a heartfelt letter to the author, a conversation, a dialogue with the work, a great idea, the man, the woman behind the artifact. It is a personal statement of one’s epistemology, even of one’s own spiritual experience. It is relaxed, clear, uncensored.

When reading, that is dialoguing with the text, keep in mind that every author writes to make a point, to promote a position, a set of beliefs or values. Your first task in a response paper is to tell your reader what you think these are. This conveys to the reader not only that you have read the text, but how well you have analyzed its content. Your second task it to reflect on the point, positions, and values you have ascribed to the work. Spend time with the author’s position and discern whether that perspective is aligned with your own experience or not. Whatever you discover in reflecting on the author’s position and how it relates to your own position and values becomes the raw material for addressing the next task of the response paper.

Within the written paper, the third task is to describe the outcome of the process mentioned above. Specifically address how the text‘s perspective and your own interweave. Do they agree? Are they similar in some way? Are they at odds? What is the conflict? How has seeing things from the text‘s perspective changed (or reaffirmed) your own viewpoint? Tell why all of this is so. Use direct examples (quotes) from the text in your response.


In short, a good response paper answers the following questions:


l. What (meanings, values, etc.) is the author trying to promote?


2. What is my personal position relative to the text‘s?


3. Has reading and reflecting on this story affected my lived world experience? If so, how and why? If not, why not?





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