Reading Responses 25%

During the first two months of the semester, you will write 1-2 page responses to the week’s readings. At least 250 words, or one page, of each reading response should be focused on the texts (summary, comparison of ideas in two or more texts); each response should include some reflection/personal connection to the ideas in the text(s).

A reading response is not freewriting nor is it a polished essay. It will not be vague or impressionistic nor will it require an overall thesis with profound interpretation. Reading responses are a semi-formal space in which to engage the ideas in the reading. Ideally, some of the reading responses will make their way into your more formal writing for the class.


  • help you keep up with readings
  • help you read actively
  • help you make connections between readings
  • help you engage with readings at personal level

You won’t answer every question in a reading response prompt - just the ones that are interesting to you. You also don’t have to limit yourself to the prompt questions.

January 21: Choose one of the prompts below and respond in 1-2 pages.

Respond to Sommers’ two articles. Briefly summarize her argument in each article. Then discuss how Sommers’ understanding of revision has changed in the 12 years between articles (“Revision Strategies” is 1980, “Between the Drafts” 1992). Cite and paraphrase from the texts to support your discussion. Reflect on your own revision strategies –are your revision practices more like those of an experienced or inexperienced writer? Or reflect on the degree that your own academic writing is authoritative (and where that authority originates).

Respond to Perl and Murray. Briefly summarize the argument in each article. Then discuss what Perl’s article, written 8 years later, adds to Murray’s description of the writing process; what is new about her understanding of the writing process? Cite and paraphrase from the texts to support your discussion. Reflect on the role "felt sense" plays (or doesn’t play) in your own writing. Reflect on whether you rely on “retrospective structuring" or "projective structuring.”

January 28: Respond to the below prompt in 1-2 pages.

Briefly summarizing the argument in Sommers or Straub or Elbow. Then discuss how the comments on four seasons essay fit (or don’t fit) with the author's prescriptions. Finally, look at your own comments on the street gangs essay; what would your chosen author say about your comments?

February 4: Choose one of the prompts below and respond in 1-2 pages.

Briefly summarize the arguments of Ede/Lunsford (about audience). Which vision of audience best describes your own experience writing the draft of the composition paper?

Briefly summarize the arguments of Brufees and Reither (about purpose in writing). When during your academic career have you experienced either (or both) visions of a learning community?

February 18: Respond to BOTH of the prompts below in 1-2 pages each.

Lu, Bartholomae, and Bizzell all debate the value of teaching students academic discourse. It is a debate we will continue next week when we read about the gendered dimensions of academic argument. Choose the article that resonates the most with you and briefly summarize it. Talk about what the article’s ideas could look like in a class you are taking this semester or in a class you are shadowing this semester.

Read and summarize Lamb and Tompkins (they agree). Talk back to them (support, disagree, equivocate) using essays you’ve written in college and grad school.

February 25: Respond to the prompt below in 1-2 pages.

What do the essays suggest about power and teaching? Support your answer with at least two texts. Then think back to one of your favorite teachers and discuss how that teacher wielded (or didn’t wield) power.

March 11: In-class reading responses to prompts written by students

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