Critical Response Essay
Purpose and Audience
Learning how to read and respond to another’s arguments responsibly are the preliminary aspects of effective argument. Your purpose in this essay is two-fold: to reflect a clear understanding of the source text and to demonstrate your competence in expressing and organizing your personal conversation with it. Assume that your audience is educated and familiar with the original essay’s topic but has not read the essay itself.
- Begin your response essay with a thought-provoking statement or observation that will engage your reader’s interest.
- Set up the context for the rest of your essay. What kind of information does your reader need to know right away? Do you need to briefly summarize the author’s main argument?
- Make sure that you introduce the name of the author and text to which you will be responding. Remember to place quotation marks around essay titles (e.g., Maggie Jackson emphasizes this point in “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.”)
- Remember that readers typically expect that your thesis, the argument you are making and will prove with evidence, will be the last sentence of your introduction. (See pp. 65-66 of “Three Ways to Respond” for potential templates).
- Your response should follow one of the three models (disagree, with reasons; agree, but with a difference; or agree and disagree simultaneously) from “Three Ways to Respond” (pp. 60-66). Choose one model to respond to one of the essays (Jackson or Weingarten).
- The argument you are making in your thesis should correspond to well-developed paragraphs in the body of your essay. In other words, the parts of your essay should match and maintain a consistent argument throughout. Explain your position clearly and logically.
- Engage the author’s ideas by referring to specific examples from the text throughout your response by directly quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the author’s position. Use author tags to make it clear which ideas come from the original essay.
- Provide evidence from your own observations, knowledge, or experience to support your claim about the essay.
- Remember that your response is an opportunity to put your oar into the conversation; you are altering the direction of the discussion and not merely repeating the author’s ideas. What do you want to contribute to this conversation?
- Avoid using outside sources for this essay. You may only quote, summarize, or paraphrase from the essay to which you are responding.
Use your conclusion as an opportunity to reflect upon the significance of this topic. The conclusion should answer the question that every reader wonders at one time or another, “So what?” Make it clear why your contribution to the conversation matters. Try not to repeat what you have already said.
Your essay should be between 700 and 900 words total (~3 pages). The essay should be double-spaced, and the font should be 12 pt. Times New Roman. Include an interesting and informative title. Quotations from the text should follow proper MLA formatting (The Writer’s Harbrace Handbook, chapter 12). Please include a correctly formatted Work Cited page, and remember this does not count in your word count. Lastly, please put your word count at the bottom of your last page.
Due Date: Upload onto Canvas by Saturday September 23, 2017 at 11:59pm
Organization (20 points)
- The essay has a clear, focused thesis that provides the reader with a clear structure for the paper.
- Each paragraph of the essay begins with a clear topic sentence that relates back to the essay’s overall thesis.
- Each point made within a paragraph supports the topic sentence of the paragraph.
- The essay includes transitions between and within paragraphs.
- Paragraphs are structured in a logical manner.
- Each paragraph directly relates to the thesis.
- Ideas in the essay avoid repetition.
Content (60 points)
- The writer effectively uses quoted, paraphrased, and/or summarized material from the original essay as a springboard for response.
- The writer includes author tags (“Jackson challenges…”) to make it clear which ideas belong to the author.
- The essay clearly uses specific, supporting details from the writer’s own experiences and observations.
- The essay is as clear as possible.
- The essay avoids generalized statements and avoids obvious statements.
- The essay is geared toward a specific audience.
Introduction and Conclusion (10 points)
- Introduction includes an interesting lead-in.
- The lead-in is explained and connected to the thesis.
- The conclusion reemphasizes the thesis, but does not use the same words.
- The conclusion reestablishes the significance of the essay.