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Reading Responses, Commentaries and Proposals

Reading Response Commentary Proposals

Reading Response

David Jolliffe, the author of the text, Inquiry and Genre: Writing to Learn in College, notes that the Reading Response “has emerged as a genre in the past several centuries as people from many walks of life sense the need to write about their thoughts, observations, and experiences while their ideas are still fresh so that they can get them down on paper and think about them at greater length. Many of the great thinkers in European and American culture wrote regularly in journals, reflecting on their reading, not only of printed texts but also of the world around them.” In a Reading Response, your reflections are primarily intellectual rather than personal or emotional. Personal and emotional reactions are not totally discounted, however; rather, a comparison and contrast is made between your intellectual and personal responses.

Jolliffe suggests there are three techniques that can be employed when writing a Reading Response:

  • You can read a text affectively, addressing the questions “How does this text make me feel? Why does it make me feel this way?”
  • You can read a text paraphrastically, taking the organization of an entire text, portions of it, even individual paragraphs and sentences, as a pattern for your own thoughts and ideas.
  • You can read a text dialectically by asking yourself what questions the text raises, looking for how the text answers those questions, and then considering how closely the text’s answers match the way you would answer the questions on the basis of your own thinking and experience.

The following are a list of helpful resources (both online and print) to help you get started on writing a Reading Response: 

Handouts (from the Writing Studio webpage)

Websites

Writing Studio Blackboard – Bookshelf link: Will Write for Food

  • The following section/pages are useful for writing a Reading Response
    • Part Two - Chapter 6: Reading Response (pg. 97)

Books/Articles 

Aaron, Jane. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook. Boston: Pearson, 2012 (Eighth Edition)

  • The following sections/pages are useful for writing a Reading Response
    • Chapter 8b:Readingfor Comprehension (pg. 70)  
    • Chapter 9: Critical Thinking and Reading (pg. 77)
    • Chapter 10a: Writing in Response to Texts (pg. 90)

Trimbur, John. The Call to Write, Brief 5th Edition. Boston:Wadsworth, 2011.

  • The following chapters are useful for writing a Reading Response
    • Chapter 2: Understanding the Rhetorical Situation: The Choices Writers Make – Strategies for Reading (pg. 32-48)

Commentary

According to The Call to Write author, John Trimbur: “Commentary is a genre of writing that uses analysis and interpretation to find patterns of meaning in events, trends, and ideas.”

A Commentary does not simply report on things, but gives readers a way to make sense of them. Consider the commentaries made by news and sports reporters on television. While you watch a scene unfolding, such as the aftermath of an earthquake in Tokyo or a strategic play on the ball field, you hear the reporters providing their audience with an interpretation of what you see on the screen.

Commentators seek to find patterns of meaning in events, trends, and ideas, calling on readers to think about causes and consequences of what is being reviewed.

In academic writing, Commentary authors attempt to provide persuasive explanations of issues, which can involve anything from the meaning of Hamlet’s melancholia to the popularity of tattoos in the 21st century. They strive to make their readers think beyond the given facts – to identify underlying causes, explain consequences, and make judgments – asking readers to consider a unique viewpoint.

According to Johnson-Sheehan and Paine, the authors of the text, Writing Today, “When writing a commentary, you are contributing something new to an ongoing public conversation. Your goal is to convince readers to agree with you and, perhaps, to change their minds. Meanwhile, readers of commentaries want to grasp the issue under discussion and understand the author’s angle quickly and easily. They want to learn something new and figure out how someone else views an important issue. To catch their attention, a commentary needs to snap, making its point quickly and memorably.”

Whatever the topic, the commentary develops from the author’s desire to analyze and explain what happens around us. In conversation, we routinely offer commentary on events, trends, and other people. We want to get a handle on the local scene at work, in school, in our neighborhood, and so we talk about what is going on, analyzing the motives for actions and reasons for events. A good deal of everyday talk and social networking sites, in fact, serve as a kind of social analysis.

The following are a list of helpful resources (both online and print) to help you get started on writing a Commentary:

Handouts (from the Writing Studio webpage)

Websites

Writing Studio Blackboard – Bookshelf link: Will Write for Food

  • The following section/pages are useful for writing a Commentary
    • Part Four - Chapter 17: Opinion Essays (pg. 262)

Books/Articles

Aaron, Jane. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook. Boston: Pearson, 2012 (Eighth Edition)

  • The following sections/pages are useful for writing a Commentary
    • Chapter 11: Argument (pg. 97)  

Trimbur, John. The Call to Write, Brief 5th Edition. Boston:Wadsworth, 2011.

  • The following chapters are useful for writing a Commentary
    • Chapter 3: Persuasion and Responsibility: Analyzing Arguments
    • Chapter 9: Commentary
    • Chapter 17: The Shape of the Essay: How Form Embodies Purpose

Proposal

In the text, The Call to Write, John Trimbur states that “Proposals put forth plans of action and seek to persuade readers that those plans should be implemented. Like commentary, proposals involve analyzing issues, taking a position, and making an argument. However, proposals go beyond commentaries by defining problems that need attention and proposing a solution.”

A Proposal that is both capable of solving the problem and suitable for doing so is said to be feasible. To have a chance of being implemented, a Proposal needs to establish that its solution will have the intended effects and that it fits the situation.

Proposals typically require research and need to convince readers. Proposals are a form of persuasive writing, and clear statements of problems and solutions, demonstrations of feasibility, documentation through research, and careful organization can all help make a Proposal persuasive to readers.

The following are a list of helpful resources (both online and print) to help you get started on writing a Proposal:

Handouts (from the Writing Studio webpage)

Websites

Writing Studio Blackboard – WritingCenterlink

  • The following section/pages are useful for writing a Proposal
    • Writing a Proposal

Books/Articles

Aaron, Jane. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook. Boston: Pearson, 2012 (Eighth Edition).

  • The following sections/pages are useful for writing a Proposal
    • Chapter 11: Argument (pg. 97)  

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard and Charles Paine. Writing Today, Brief Edition.Boston: Longman, an imprint of Pearson. 2010.

  • The following section/pages are useful for writing a Proposal
    • Chapter 12: Proposals

Odell, Lee and Susan M. Katz. Writing Now: Shaping Words and Images. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

  • The following section/pages are useful for writing a Proposal
    • Chapter 7: Proposals

Trimbur, John. The Call to Write, Brief 5th Edition. Boston:Wadsworth, 2011.

  • The following chapters are useful for writing a Proposal
    • Chapter 3: Persuasion and Responsibility: Analyzing Arguments
    • Chapter 10: Proposals

 

Last Updated: 3/23/15