Preclass Reflections


At the beginning of the semester, I will assign you to write reflections as part of group 1, 2, or 3. There are 13 opportunities for each group, and you need to turn in 10 reflections over the course of the semester, so you may choose which three weeks to take off. However, if you get behind and fail to turn in the allotted 10 reflections, you will receive a zero for each missing reflection. The moral of the story is that you should stay on top of these!

I will grade about half of the reflections that you turn in and just mark the others as pass or fail. You will only present on the ones that I grade in class, but the trick is that you won’t know whether I’ve graded yours and have you slated to talk until you show up in class that day.

To receive credit for your reflection, you must upload it to the appropriate folder here by 7:00 am (please name it with your group number and then your last name and number of week. e.g. “2_Bilbro_1”) and then bring a hard copy with you to class. In other words, you cannot receive credit for a reflection if you are not present and able to discuss it with us in class. Give your most careful attention to these directions, as these reflections are worth a significant portion of your overall grade. 

General Guidelines

1) Identify what seems to you a particularly important, or insightful, or outrageous, or thought-provoking, or rhetorically powerful passage in the assigned reading. The passage should be important for your understanding of the assigned reading.

2) Explain (that is, make a case) why you judge that passage to be so important for understanding the text. The key here is to make a connection between the point you identify and its larger context. Excellent reflection writing (i.e., writing at an “A” level) should consider how something explicit in the text results in implicit effects (whether logically or imaginatively). In some cases, the connection you make could involve drawing out the logical implications of a claim or examining its assumptions. In other cases you might consider the dramatic context for a specific statement (e.g., By whom? Under what implied circumstances?) or explain the effects that arise from combining different types of imagery. The key point is that your aim in these reflections is not simply to emote but to practice logical thinking through the writing process.

3) Finally, offer one critically incisive question regarding the text which you believe raises a crucial point in the reading that we should discuss as a class. Avoid questions that are banal or vague; if your question could be asked clearly at the beginning of your reflection writing, then the question is probably too general. Your final question should develop out of the specific insights presented by your reflection writing and should require that we consider carefully the text itself, not just the general topic that it raises.

The first sentence of each written reflection assignment should address point 1) above. The final sentence should be the question described in point 3). The rest of the assignment should be taken up with point 2).

Each written response should be about 300 words (between 1 and 1½ pages, typed, double-spaced). Be sure to write with attention to the precision and accuracy of your language and usage. At any time I will be happy to meet with you and discuss ways to improve your reflection writing. Late submissions will not be accepted.