An important part of your academic writing experience is developing your skills as a critical reader. A critical reader isn’t someone who has a negative opinion about everything; by “critical” we mean rigorously thoughtful—a reader who engages each text with an open, curious mind. A critical reader takes notes as she reads; she asks questions of the text; she challenges the assertions made by an author; she questions the source of any claim. In short, a critical reader “tests” a text; the act of reading becomes a dialogue, or exchange, between text and reader. A critical reader takes these active learning skills with her to the desk when she writes, and becomes a more thoughtful, engaged, and rigorous writer of texts.
For each class period devoted to a reading (or readings) from The Norton Field Guide to Writing, or the readings on Blackboard,you are either required to typewrite an entry for your Reader’s Journal (RJE) or the RR+R papers. Each entry should be approximately 125 words long (about half of a typewritten, double-spaced page).
On days when two or more RJE readings are assigned on the schedule, select one reading for your response. [You are, of course, still required to read, (and be able to discuss), all assigned readings.]
In each entry of your Journal, record a thoughtful response to the essay, addressing an issue of substance. This might have to do with the particular rhetorical mode we are studying (e.g., narration and description, definition, argument, and so on). Or it might be a considered reflection on what you liked or disliked about the text, what questions it raised, or what the text made you think of, and why. Please, avoid mere plot summary or simplistic condensation. Select one or maybe two interesting elements of the text in question and record your thoughts and responses. Given the length of the entry, it is important to focus on a specific, selected element of interest; don’t try to account for the entire reading.
That having been said, your journal should reflect your own reading practice; it is a space for you to express your own personality and opinions. Feel free to use the first person and to adopt a personal, perhaps slightly more informal tone in your entries.
You will write a Reader’s Journal entry each day a reading is discussed and I will grade them. I will be looking for the following:
· A 125-word entry for each day of assigned reading; on a day when more than one essay is assigned, choose one essay for your response.
· For each entry, in the title, include the author’s first and last names, the title of the work, and the date discussed in class.
· In the body of the RJE, list again the author’s name and the title. Refer to the author by the last name. You are not on a first name basis.
· A thoughtful reflection on your reading of the piece—evidence that you have “engaged” the text.
· The avoidance of gratuitous plot summary or condensation.
· Each entry should be typewritten, double-spaced, and free from excessive mechanical and technical errors. Follow MLA 2009 guidelines regarding format. Mimic my format, including the centered “title.”
The following is a sample entry to your Reader’s Journal, which will be double-spaced, in Times New Roman, font size 12, with one-inch margins all around. Please note that no extra lines are skipped. No bold. Title of reading is in quotes. The comma is inside the quote. The date is in MLA 2009 format. There will be a running head. It is fine to use the abbreviation RJE ___.
English 130: Section ___
5 June 2013
Tom Coraghessan Boyle, “Greasy Lake,” 6 June 2013
I was really taken in by the first page of this narrative. The description of the “bad” boys and their partying in Boyle’s essay, “Greasy Lake,” reminded me of my high school friends and the crazy stuff we did on weekends. It really surprised me when the narrator ran into the dead body in the lake; the story took an abrupt turn there, and a whole set of issues clicked into place, centering around the repetition of that phrase, “This was nature.” The narrator means human nature, not just the natural world, I think. Coming out of the slimy lake, finding his car trashed and his buddies as scared as he was, the narrator realizes he is not as “bad” as he once thought. This story is about coming of age and realizing your own true nature–those quintessential moments that define your personality, when you are shown some true glimpse of your own face. I won’t forget this story.
Pick a pointfrom the original essay.
Analyze itusing specific lines/pieces from the essay.
Relate itto your own experience. (This should be the shortest section.)
Wrap it back upinto the original essay.