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Three Ways To Respond
Transcript of Three Ways To Respond
“The complexity, subtlety, and originality of your response are more likely to stand out and be noticed if readers have a
baseline sense of where you stand relative to any ideas you’ve cited
Because of this, articles and essays often begin with “no-nonsense formulas” of
I agree, I disagree, or I am of two minds
Often times, it is difficult to agree or disagree with literary works as your essays involve interpretive-analysis.
Responding to Art, Literature Etc.
Explaining the meaning, style or structure of a novel (or any work of art) is still an argument because you are
presenting debatable points
Pointing out features or qualities of a work that others have missed or do not see the value in means you are
That said, using others’ interpretations can help strengthen your own reading.
“The best interpretations take strong stands relative to other interpretations”
So What? Who Cares?
You need to not only state your interpretation, but say
why it is important relative to other readings
of the same work.
One way in is to
acknowledge the disparity
in readings with the following template:
“Although some believe the novel is primarily about_______________, it is in fact about__________, which is important because it shows _______________.”
2. Agree—But With a Difference
“Even as you’re agreeing, it’s important to
bring something new and fresh to the table
, adding something that makes you a valuable participant in the conversation” (61).
Whatever way you choose to agree, “the important thing is to open up some difference of contrast between your position and the one you’re agreeing with
rather than simply parroting
what it says” (62).
Ways to agree (with a difference)
Point out new or overlooked evidence
Provide an accessible translation
Highlight unnoticed implications
Explain something that needs to be better understood
Show that because of societal or political change a re-reading of a book through a contemporary lens can be beneficial
Use a good argument as a solution to a problem identified in the text.
Scott J. Wilson English 110
TS/IS 55-67 (Graff and Birkenstein)
1. Disagree (and explain why).
Can be the easiest way to generate an essay.
However, there are hidden challenges here. Most important of them is
explaining why you disagree and what your disagreement teaches us
(as writer and reader).
Why your disagreement matters:
Because another’s argument:
Fails to take relevant factors into account.
Is based on faulty or incomplete evidence.
Rests on questionable assumptions.
Uses flawed logic.
Templates (page 60)
Overlooks the real (or a more important) issue.
points out an obvious or common sense solution (or is not original or innovative in its scope).
unintentionally supports your contradictory argument
3. Agree and Disagree Simultaneously
Shows maturity and nuanced logic.
Less polarizing and better for
creating a dialogue
(instead of heated debate).
This is an argument structured as “
yes and no
,” “on the one hand I agree, on the other I disagree.”
How to Agree and Disagree
If you want to
stress the disagreement
, use a template like this:
“Although I agree with X up to a point, I cannot accept his overriding assumption that religion is no longer a major force today” (65).
This allows your reader to “place your argument on [a]
map of positions
…while keeping your argument
If you want to
agree more than disagree
“Although I disagree with much of what X says, I fully endorse the final conclusion that self destruction is only a short-term solution” (65).
Templates (page 62)
Templates (page 65)
1. Read "Locked In" by Megan Craig -- See UR courses for details (use Google Scholar to find it).
2. Find the key points in Craig's argument (where they analyze and not where they describe plot details).
3. Write down at least 3 (or highlight/underline them).
Identify one that you agree with.
Identify one that you disagree with.
Identify one that you agree and disagree.
4. Using the templates in this chapter of They Say/I Say,
write an example of each mode of responding
(from the ones you selected).
We will discuss these next class.
For March 1st:
X is mistaken because
she overlooks the fact that
Hempel acknowledges how language changes identity in "The Harvest."
X's claim that
Bauby's life after the stroke is not as stimulating as his life before
rests upon the questionable assumption that
his work for
magazine brought him contentment.
By criticizing the
abundance of Anne Frank imagery in
The Fault in Our Stars
X overlooks the fact that
John Green and his characters often acknowledge tired cliches, legitimizing the connection between Grace and Frank.
X is right about
the language of criminality undermining Bauby's hopeful message
because, as stated earlier,
while he develops from memoir beginning to end, he always sees himself as victim or deviant.
X's theory of
disease creating community
is useful because it
sheds light on the troubling problem
of relegating the sick and dying to abject positions.
the narrator is able to use exaggeration as a temporary escape,
it remains true that
her physical scar will always root her in trauma unless she speaks honestly about her pain
X is right that
community is better than conflict,
but she seems on more dubious ground when she claims that
throwing eggs at a car cannot be included in the category of conflict simply because the car is inanimate