For EL266, a reflection paper is an informal written statement that demonstrates that you are coming to class prepared to do your part to advance the discussion of a reading. (It's the fourth "R" in the "RRRR" sequence.) You may post it on your class weblog, if you wish, but bring a printout to class in any case. Requirements
- Include at least one direct quotation from the assigned reading.Engage critically and intellectually with that quotation.Refer by name to at least one peer whose online reaction differs from yours.Length: about 200 words (not counting quotations).
On a given discussion day, I may ask you to trade reading responses and discuss them in small groups. I may call on you and ask you to read your response paper aloud. I might collect them, but only read half. I might not collect them at all. Punctuation and grammar are not terribly important in a response paper, and neither is finding the "right" interpretation. I'm simply interested in evidence that you are keeping up on the readings and thinking about them before you come to class. But for the time being, you can think of your response paper as potentially focusing on knowledge, analysis, and a position statement (thesis). Knowledge What facts or details must the reader know in order to understand this passage? (How does the author's station in life affect the representation of reality found in the literary work? Does the setting (time and place) of the scene affect our understanding? Do any terms we have recently encountered help you make sense of what the author is attempting? Did you have to look up anything in order to understand it? Are there historical or cultural references that you'd like to know more about?) Analysis What cultural or ethical issues does this passage illustrate? What social, aesthetic, or historical issues seem to apply here? If you see symbolism, or a political message, or something confusing, break it down into parts. What is the conflict? What is the subtext? Position Statement (Thesis) Based on the details and analysis that you have provided so far, do you see some unifying question? Identify an issue, take a stand, and be prepared to invite the class to weigh in. Simple yes/no questions rarely spark much discussion. Neither would:
Hawthorne uses a lot of symbolism. [List of symbols goes here.] Do you agree that Hawthorne uses a lot of symbolism?The above example is shallow. It does not invite debate or demonstrate college-level analytical skills. Try instead:
All the men and women of Salem are justifiably upset at Hester, because until the guilty party is named, a shadow of doubt hangs over every man in the community, which also impacts every wife in the community. While Hawthorne clearly wants our sympathy to be with Hester, the heroine conceals the father's identity for reasons that are partially selfish.