Why Do It?
The reading response gives you an avenue to invite yourself into the written text and 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 read a re-hashing of the facts of his/her course a million times before. Or, forget about writing for a college course. What about writing a report in the workplace? What about proposing a new idea to your boss? Such careful awareness of audience and tailoring your writing to a specific audience is an aspect of successful writing we’ll work on in this course. However, you can’t even get to the point of getting someone else to care about what you are writing if you don’t care yourself.
That doesn’t mean you should only write about subjects that interest you. On the contrary, half of the battle in writing a successful paper is coming up with an idea on a topic which is usually of little interest to you—finding an angle or connection through which you can approach or examine the text. What does it remind you of? Why do you respond emotionally? Or why do you not respond? Ask questions to find avenues into a piece of writing. The creativity involved in continually forging such difficult connections will help you develop into a writer who can grab a reader’s attention by approaching a topic or subject through your own unique personal lens, that is, by looking at something through an angle no one else can see.
Through active responding to reading, and examining your responses, you can learn to practice new approaches of interpretation to common themes. Many of the ideas you generate in the reading responses will prove useful when you sit down to write the short essays (or maybe even your research paper).
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