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Response Papers


Over the course of the semester you will master the concepts you are learning in this class by writing weekly responses to our readings, artworks, and field trips.

Your response papers will be short, evaluative essays that analyze--positively or negatively--our readings in light of the week's topic or our field trip in light of the week's readings. Your discussion must reflect your careful reading of the texts. If two or more readings are assigned that week, compare them. Be sure to include your own critical observations and to avoid summary. Do NOT submit summaries in lieu of your own thoughts; do NOT submit opinion in lieu of academic argumentation. Be sure to title each entry, and please feel free to be creative here.

You should engage with the subject material of your papers critically and actively. Simply writing about your reactions or opinions is not the objective of this assignment; your reactions are important, but in this kind of assignment, use your reactions as points of entry into a text or image, not as points of conclusion. Take detailed notes on each reading, field trip, and lecture, carefully consider that knowledge, and then craft your response paper as your response: how and why you interpret the material in the way that you do in light of our readings and artworks. It's not a report or a diary; it's an analytical response. Avoid a too-casual tone that could lead to lax argumentation, and avoid heavy quotation used in place of your own thoughts. Instead, write professionally, accurately, and concretely, always supporting your assertions with evidence or examples from the texts. In short, don't just say what you think; prove why you think it.

Each response paper will vary in length. Spend as much or as little time and space as you need to thoroughly address and discuss your points up to 2 double-spaced pages max. Please double-side your printing. See my Comments Guide for a key to understanding my comments on your papers and for suggestions on how to write your very best work.

Your response papers are due by the beginning of class each Thursday unless otherwise indicated on our schedule (after field trips, for example). For format, follow the guidelines listed in on the Course Conduct & Policies page: 2 pages, double spaced, typed and printed, standard Microsoft Word formatting, 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Response paper grades will be based on the degree to which your writings reflect:
    1) your understanding of the course material
    2) a serious and skilled use of ideas, theories, and concepts from our course to develop greater understanding of artworks
    3) well written, intelligible, expressive arguments