We are a small class, so your engagement with the course material is vitally important. Every other week, you will turn in a 1.5-2 page response paper on the week’s reading. These response papers can be fodder for future assignments (close reading papers, book reviews, and the final exam), or they can be opportunities for you to think more about something that interested you from our class discussion or from the reading (or, ideally, both).
Your response papers should engage with the text you are writing about in a specific, detailed way (we will talk more about what this means), but they must be 1.5-2 pages long (12 pt font, 1 inch margins). You cannot go over 2 pages, nor should you fall under 1.5 pages.
Response papers will be due by class on your group’s due date (you will be assigned to either Group A or Group B at the beginning of the semester); you should email them to me in advance of class. You should come to class prepared to discuss your response papers when they are due; each Friday when a group’s response papers are due, class discussion will focus on what you have written in your response papers. Additionally, in the second half of the course, you do not need to turn in a response paper about the text you plan to review (Underground Railroad, Olio, or The Flamethrowers). This means you will turn in 4 total response papers.
Response papers are worth 10% of your grade in this class. They will be graded on an extra credit / full credit / half credit / fail basis. For more details on this kind of grading, see the relevant section in the course syllabus. You cannot turn in a late response paper. If you know you are going to be absent from class on a day when you have a response paper due, you should turn in your response paper by emailing it to me by class time.
Response Paper 1 prompt
What is something about How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe that confuses or confounds you? I am not talking about ideas or themes or concepts in the text here; I am talking about specific textual and/or aesthetic elements. Choose one specific word, phrase, passage, or stylistic or structural element (or a repeated pattern of these things) in the text that confuses you. BE SPECIFIC: You should start your response paper by precisely citing the confusing thing, and then spend the rest of your paper thinking through why that thing is confusing. You don’t need to come to any conclusions or discover any answers; keep an open mind.
Response Paper 2 prompt
As you did for your first response paper, choose one specific thing (a specific word, phrase, passage, or stylistic or structural element, or a repeated pattern of these things) about Make Your Home Among Strangers that confuses you, or that you don’t fully understand. Begin your response paper by citing that thing, then spend the rest of your paper thinking through why that thing is confusing. You don’t need to come to any conclusions or discover any answers; keep an open mind.
Response Paper 3 prompt
The same as prompts 1 and 2, but about The Underground Railroad.
Response Paper 4 prompt
Using Olio as your example case, write a reflection about how writing a book review of Olio is different from writing a close reading paper on Olio. What are the different rhetorical aims of each kind of writing (i.e., what is a close reading paper trying to do, and what is a book review trying to do)? How do these different kinds of writing use evidence differently? How are their styles and tones different? Who are their different putative audiences? You don’t have to discuss all of the ways these kinds of writing are different; focus in on one or two and, as always, provide specific examples.
Response Paper 5 prompt
Start writing a response to one of the final exam prompts, or start brainstorming ideas for a response to one of the final exam prompts. You can start anywhere, not necessarily at the beginning.