Summary / Critical Response Essay

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ESSAY #1: SUMMARY / CRITICAL RESPONSE ESSAY
OBJECTIVES:
 This essay assignment will help you do the following:
 Improve your ability to read critically and analytically  Improve your ability to respond objectively to a controversial text and evaluate a writer’s rhetorical strategies
 Improve your understanding of how to compose an effective thesis statement, and develop detailed, persuasive and coherent support
 Improve your ability to use MLA documentation style
OVERVIEW:
Summarizing and responding to the texts of others is a very common assignment in college writing. Such writing allows one to take part in important debates of concern to scholars and students in the various disciplines of higher education.

This assignment asks you to read critically and to develop a strong response to a writer’s ideas and rhetorical choices. As you do so, you will gain experience using an academic documentation style, in this case MLA (Modern Language Association). Plan an essay that is about 3-5 typed, double-spaced pages (900-1,500 words). You will be expected to use the writing process for this first essay. This means you will write several drafts before submitting it for a grade. As you work through your writing process, keep all of your notes and drafts.

ASSIGNMENT DETAILS:
This first essay will be a short essay of 900-1,500 words, where you will practice analyzing a writer’s rhetorical choices and ideas and critique the writer’s argument. Your "summary/strong response" must include (a) a summary (approximately 150-250 words) of a reading and (b) a strong response to that reading in which you “speak back” to that reading from your own critical thinking. As you formulate your own strong response, consider both the author’s ideas and the author’s rhetorical choices concerning audience, purpose, genre, style, and use of persuasive tools. Think of your response as your analysis of how the text tries to influence its readers rhetorically and how your wrestling with the text has expanded and deepened your thinking about its ideas or about one particular idea.

Choose from one of the following essays to critique:
 “The Myth of the Latin Woman” by Judith Ortiz Cofer
 “Becoming a Man” by Paul Monette

*WARNING!!!: If you do not have a complete first draft with a word count at the end, you will have disqualified yourself from having your 1st draft peer reviewed as well as peer reviewing classmates’ 1st drafts. In addition, your participation grade for the course will be significantly deducted, and your grade for Essay #1 will be lowered by one letter grade.

ORGANIZATION:
Be sure to review the Topic Sentence Outline format that is uploaded to the Blackboard. Make certain the format and organization of your outline clearly shows the hierarchy of your ideas. Remember that you need to be referring to your outline as your write your first draft. As writing is a recursive process, it is likely that you will make changes as you write and may not follow the outline exactly. Be sure that your final outline reflects the changes that you made, as you must attach it to the end of your final draft.

In the body of your essay, make sure you include at least 2 rhetorical critique points (at least one of which should be a rhetorical appeal – logos, ethos, pathos) and 2 ideas critique points * NOTE: Be sure to review the Topic Sentence Outline format uploaded to the Blackboard. The organization of your essay will depend largely on your thesis and the emphasis you would like to place on your supporting points.

SOME ADVICE:
When you write a response essay that uses a single source, you must be careful to balance the writer’s ideas with your own. Imagine yourself in partnership with the author, using his/her ideas and arguments as a base from which to launch your own. Overall, though, it is your voice that should dominate your draft. Your thesis and the points that support it should be based on your own opinions and written in your own...
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