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Michael Barsanti's Response Assignment

What's a Response?

by Michael Barsanti


There are many assignments due for this class that are called "Responses." Students are often confused by these assignments-in part because they are less formal than what they have been asked to write for classes in the past. I don't expect the Responses to have a coherent point, or to make especially brilliant readings of the stories assigned. They should represent a first attempt to make sense out of the assignment, a first attempt at getting the bits and pieces you have marked in the story to hang together in some way.

Here's how I imagine you doing these assignments:

  1. You read the assigned readings, and mark them up accordingly with passages that strike you (see the "How to Read" handout.


  2. Having finished the reading, you page back through what you have read, scanning over the things you've marked.


  3. You sit at a computer and type out whatever trash comes into your head. You can be tentative, speculative, or downright wrong about what you're saying. You simply need to write something.


  4. You type 500 or so words (one page single spaced). Maybe you fiddle with it a little, deleting a few sentences and adding others, but you don't do any real editing.


  5. You make sure your name is at the top of the page, along with the date and the assignment number ("Response #2"). You hand it in.

After you hand it in, I read over it quickly. I take it home and mark anything that seems especially interesting or promising, put a check/check plus/check minus on it and maybe a few comments, and hand it back to you in a class or two.

You should hold on to everything I give back to you in this class, but these responses are especially important, since your next assignment will be to revise them.