To complete this assignment, you must read: The Big Burn thoroughly and with care. You must pay attention to the details. You should underline important passages, and make notes in the margin of the book. You should also keep written notes on each chapter.
When you write your paper, I am looking for an informed set of ideas, reactions, and honest responses. If you loved the book, explain why. If you hated it, explain why in simple, clear language. Pay attention to grammar and punctuation in your writing.
A reading response invites a reader ‘into’ the text. It invites you to make a connection with it. In many college courses you will be assigned to write papers about subjects with which you have no personal interest. Reading responses help to generate connections between the reader and text.
The key to writing a compelling academic paper for any college course is being able to forge a personal connection on some level with your subject. You must care in some way about your subject, or else your writing will be lifeless, and your instructor, a human being, will have to read a dull, dead rehashing of the books facts, a rehashing that he or she is not interested in reading.
Find a topic in this work that interests you. Make me care about what you are writing. If you don’t care, then why should I care?
Now, I am acutely aware that this book may not be one that you would ever read on your own. So your task in this assignment and to writing a successful paper is to find an angle or connection through which you can approach or examine the text. What does it remind you of? Why do you respond emotionally to its contents? Why do you not respond? Ask yourself questions as you read the book so as to find an avenue into it contents and to make its content meaningful to you. Be an active, engaged, skeptical, questioning, and discerning reader.
To assist you in finding your voice for this paper, I have included below a general Study Guide for The Big Burn. Do not complete this study guide as your Response Paper. Rather, use it as a guide to assist you in finding topics and ideas on which to write your Response Paper.
Summary: Three Keys to writing a Reading Response.
Active reading involves looking at the text in more than one way. In preparing you response, look at the book personally, intellectually and critically.
What is your emotional or gut reaction to the work, or to a certain portion of the book? How does a particular passage make you feel? Does it connect to or remind you of anything from your own experience? Does it frighten you? Does it inspire you?
What ideas come to mind as you read the text? What questions does a passage or the book as a whole raise? What evidence is used? Does the author have an axe to grind? What are the author’s motivations? What is his or her background? Do they have the authority or credentials to write such a book? What is the context in which the work was written? Is the author’s argument contested in competing works on the same subject? Is the thesis and argument of the book shaped by a particular school of thought, political position, or ideology?
How is the book organized? How well is it written? What do you notice about the author’s style, and use of language? How might the organization and writing style be changed to make a more effective argument?
0 – 5 points:
The writer’s response is thoughtful, reflective, and demonstrated the writer’s serious engagement with the text.
0 – 5 points:
The writers response is substantial, well-developed, and meets the minimum length requirements if 1 page, single-spaced.
0 – 5 points:
The writer demonstrably strives to push beyond a surface level examination of the subject. The writer, that is, goes beyond a straight summary like description of the book’s content. (E. G. The author wrote an important book about windmills.)
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