Writing "Response" Papers
Over the course of this year, I will ask you to write a number of "response papers," one to two page essays maximum exploring aspects of the literature, art, and film we will engage. These papers, though less formal than the analytical essays you write, still must demonstrate your willingness to take risks with your interpretations by delving below the surface and show your curiosity about the material. They are also essays designed to help you hone your prose skills—good writing is hard work, and I expect a lot it of from you this year.
Here are possible topics to consider:
1. Pull a quotation from a novel or short story, a line or two from a poem and look for meaning. Take some interpretive risks. 2. Ask a question about the text and then begin to answer it. What questions flow naturally from this initial one? Follow your train of thought and explore the ideas that come to you. 3. Ask a question about a certain character and attempt to provide some answers to it. 4. Look closely at a photograph or painting I show in class (or you find and want to examine because it relates to our discussions) and discuss what you see in it or its effect on you. Ask questions, provide some possible answers, take another risk. 5. State a theme you believe is central to a work I assign and explore several places you find it represented in that story, poem, film, or novel. 6. Compare and contrast two characters or narrative events and draw some conclusions about them. Look at a relationship between those two characters. 7. Examine the significance of the title of a work. What do you think it means? Follow this line of thinking by asking more questions and providing some answers. 8. Scrutinize one scene in a novel, film, or story. What do you learn from it? Why do you think the author/screenwriter