Response to Readings

Assignment:  For your first essay, choose to respond to one of the following three essays:

  • “The Inheritance of Tools,” by Scott Russell Sanders
  • “The Waco Horror,” by Jesse Washington
  • “The Work of Local Culture,” by Wendell Berry

Response essays can take various forms, and one essay can look very different from another, but the most important thing to remember is that you must not simply regurgitate the ideas of the author to whom you are responding; your essay should be unified with a clear, stand-alone thesis.

As you prepare to write, think about connections between the essay you are reading and your own ideas and experience.  What object has been personally important to you in a way that is analogous to the tools Sanders inherited from his father? How has racism, or other forms of structural injustice, marked you and your community? What positive examples of local cultural have you experienced? Find a hook in one of these three essays and then develop your own argument that builds from this.

Your essay should follow a clear thesis that, while connected to the essay you are responding to, represents your own thinking on the subject the author brought up.  The first paragraph of your response should transition from the essay to which you are responding into your own main idea.  Be sure your thesis is clearly stated and that your entire essay develops that main idea.  The essay should then develop your response through a logical progression of well-developed paragraphs. Think of practical examples that you can use to support your claims; be sure that your essay does not remain vague.  Finally, your conclusion should frame the essay by reinforcing the connection between your response and the essay you are in dialogue with.  The whole essay should be about three pages long (750-1000 words).

To gain familiarity with both APA and MLA, include both a Bibliography formatted according to APA guidelines and a Works Cited page formatted according to MLA guidelines. Please format your essay according to these guidelines.


This essay will be evaluated based on the general elements listed on the grading rubric and the quality of your response as a whole essay with a unifying thesis.  This essay should be formatted according to the handout I gave you.  The essay should also conform to standard rules of mechanics, grammar, punctuation, and usage.