21H.102 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate

American History Since 1865


Guidelines for Reading Responses

There are two main purposes to these reading responses:

  1. To give you an opportunity to practice writing in a brief, informal way that synthesizes concepts presented in lectures and in readings, and
  2. To help generate ideas for discussion in class.

Your reading responses don’t need to be long! However, they should be detailed and engaging. You should try to develop an argument that engages with the problems and concepts raised by the texts with the goal of demonstrating your command of the assigned readings. You’ll also be able to hone your ideas in these responses to prepare for longer papers.

What to do:

  • Draw connections between the reading and the themes of the course, or the discussions we’ve had in section or lecture.
  • Suggest questions for class discussion! What are some of the unresolved issues that the reading suggests? What are the implications of the arguments that the author(s) make?
  • Point to specific passages in the text to demonstrate close reading, addressing both content and form.

What to avoid:

  • Descriptive summary of the book or of the historical events it describes.
  • General opinionating about whether you agreed or disagreed with something in the reading. Specificity is key: provide details from the text to back up assertions you make.

No need for a full bibliography in each paper-we all have the syllabus-name of author, title, and page will suffice. Parenthetical citations or footnotes are both fine. Reading responses for this class should be one page double spaced at minimum, and will be graded on a ✓-, ✓, ✓+ basis as part of your participation grade.

Happy reading!

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2018
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Lecture Notes