Reader Response Essay Example

September 2005 Professors who wish to force students to not only read assigned texts but to think about them as well may assign reading responses.A reading response is an essay about a book, and like any essay, it must argue a thesis.Because personal response essays require so much critical thinking and analysis, a well-prepared student will come at the essay as they would any research paper.

Sherry’s essay, “The Triumph of Democratic Capitalism–Without the Democracy and the Capitalism” (review of John Lewis Gaddis, 25 (December 1997) 531-536. was the path to political and economic robustness; that to intimidate or to overmanage was to stifle.” Sherry replies that “although defensible, such claims are maddeningly unexamined.” Sherry does not simply wish that Gaddis had written a different book, for it is Gaddis, not Sherry, who first links domestic politics and foreign policy.In the example, Sherry wants to prove that Gaddis should have paid more attention to race and gender.Using one book from a course to understand a later book in the course makes the course into something more than a collection of discrete texts.In addition to supporting your thesis, you are letting your instructor know how carefully you read. If you write in your essay that you are unconvinced by an author’s assertions about the civility of American politics, you should be ready to raise your hand in class to point to the relevant passage and to ask if your classmates had the same reaction.While evidence from the assigned book is essential, it is often helpful to include evidence from outside the book as well.Gaddis argues that Cold War American policy-makers “were projecting abroad a tradition they had long taken for granted at home: that civility made sense; that spontaneity . In lamenting the lack of evidence for Gaddis’s assertions, Sherry takes Gaddis on his own terms and shows that more work must be done.One of my students aptly termed this a “yes, but” approach.For example, you may have heard of the text before.It could be a short story that was made into movie or maybe your best friend read it last semester and told you all about it.Direct quotation is also helpful, also with page numbers.It is especially important to quote when you disagree with an author, as Sherry does when he wants to show that Gaddis, not he, introduces the themes of civility and spontaneity.

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