Reading response

Reading response

prompts and respond to it. Note that you can use the prompts as you see fit: do not feel as if you need to address every point a prompt brings up. Also, if you have a particular question or idea that is not covered by a prompt and about which you want to post, go ahead. In most cases, though, the prompts will focus your thoughts and help you do a better job on this assignment. Regardless, always change your post’s subject-line so that it reflects your focus.

Claudius begins Act 1, Scene 2 with a speech to the royal court at Elsinore. His brother King Hamlet has died, and he has married his brother’s widow and claimed the throne, even though conventionally the line of succession passes to a king’s son, not brother (or even wife). Denmark had an elected monarchy, which means that succession was not automatic: the nobles had to approve the new king. What explanation for his actions does he provide? How persuasive do you find it? Can you see anything wrong with it?

A reading response post is your opportunity to record whatever thoughts, questions, and emotional or aesthetic reactions you have as you read. For every reading assignment, I will provide a new discussion board forum on which I will post possible issues or questions. When your group has a reading post due, you should pick one of them and respond to it as best you can.

Because these responses represent the early stages of your thinking about the readings, you should feel free to use them to test out ideas, ask questions, and admit confusion; indeed, summary judgments and easy answers aren’t much use to me or your classmates, whereas confusion, when clearly expressed, can be stimulating. On the other hand, I admire students who are willing to venture an opinion and back it up. What is important is that your response demonstrates your engagement with these works.

The key to reading response posts is to keep them focused by quoting specific passages — you must support your argument with textual evidence by quoting and citing the reading for that thread at least once during your post — and commenting on those quotations in order to support a point. Do not simply quote and expect us to see what you see in the passage; explain. That means you should never begin or end a paragraph with a quotation. Start by establishing a point you want to make or an issue you want to explore. Quote (do not paraphrase) the text to provide evidence for what you are saying. Then, comment on the quotation: never assume that your peers or I will see what you see in the passage you quote, let alone see it the same way. Quotations provide evidence; they do not make your case for you. The ratio of commentary on a quotation to the quotation itself is typically a good indication of how strong a post is.

Always set quotations up substantively. That means that setting up a quotation with a simple phrase like “Shakespeare writes” is unacceptable. If the set-up for a quotation tells readers nothing other than the information a citation could give them, it’s not substantive.

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