Reading Question Guidelines

Each day for which there is reading assigned you will bring one carefully crafted question about the reading. Please bring two typed copies of this question. At the beginning of class, I will ask you a question about the reading, and you will then write your answer on the bottom of one of these copies and turn it in. You will keep the other copy to refer to when I ask you what questions you have about the reading.

I grade your response to my question with either a check (passing) or a dash (failing). I grade your questions (check plus, check, or dash) on the basis of their textual insight and evidence of careful thinking. Your question will receive a zero if it can be answered by a quick google search (when was Paradise Lost written?), if it can be definitively answered by a cursory glance at the text (why didn’t Odysseus leave Calypso if he wanted to go home?), or if it cannot be discussed in relation to the text at all (how would The Odyssey be different if Odysseus had wings and could have flown home?). Your question should refer to a specific line or two in the text, and attempts to answer it should require close textual analysis (your question must explicitly refer to a specific line or two in the text to receive credit). For instance, instead of asking how Dante, a living person, could travel through hell, purgatory, and heaven, use this anomaly (referencing, for instance, Canto 8, lines 29 ff) to pose a question that queries the significance of his miraculous opportunity. Good questions begin with a specific observation and probe motivation, characterization, apparent paradoxes, textual assumptions, or the relationship between the text’s form and its content. A good question might begin with the phrase, “I noticed ——–, and this observation makes me wonder…”