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Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Reading Responses Assignment

What is a reading response?

A reading response is a focused response to assigned reading before it is discussed in class. It is an opportunity for you to explore and formulate your interpretation of one aspect of the reading. It is not an essay, but should be written in structured, developed paragraphs. It is not a freewrite and should have focus, organized thoughts, support (e.g. textual evidence), and an adequate degree of correctness. Ideally, these responses will provide you with foundations upon which to build your longer, formal essays.

What should a reading response do?

Analyze a singular element of the literature by discussing the WHAT, HOW, and possibly WHY of this element. In other words, if you choose to write about the point of view in a story, you will need to describe what the point of view is, explain how it functions to contribute to the overall effect (intellectual or emotional upon reader) or meaning (theme, concept, or question

raised by story) of the text, and perhaps consider why this perspective is successful (or not) in creating this effect/meaning, usually in relation to a particular theme of the work (Theme = the larger issues, ideas, questions or arguments with which a text grapples.)

  • you may choose to discuss a particular theme as developed in a reading assignment. For example, if you choose to write about identity conflict in a section of a novel, you would present what you think the author is saying in this section about this topic (the what). You might expand by describing one or two key scenes or perhaps point to a couple of key passages that illustrate this theme. Then you would do a close reading of the scene(s) or passage(s) to explain what you think each reveals about how the author is creating this impression, message, or argument in the text. Finally, you might speculate as to why this is important in the larger scheme of the work.
  • to recap, you need to DESCRIBE (often pointing to specific instances or passages or details from the text will be helpful) and ANALYZE (explain the significance of the piece in relation to the whole).
  • reading response is: – NOT a summary of plot – NOT an opinion -NOT a review -NOT a freewrite – NOT about personal experience

What should a reading response look like?

For each response you would select only one element. Your first paragraph should be only one or two sentences in which you state a thesis, the single focus of your response and the overall idea or argument you will pursue related to it.

This should be followed by 2-3 fully developed paragraphs in which you explore this topic in an organized way, with specific examples analyzed. Paragraphs should include a topic sentence (identifies main idea of paragraph), remain focused on the idea of the topic sentence, and provide sufficient specific evidence and support from th