Completing the ‘Reading Response’ Papers
During this semester you must write and submit at least four ‘reading response’ papers (from a choice of six), each approximately 800-1000 words in length (not including required bibliography) that together are worth 40% of your course grade. If you submit more than four, your ‘four best grades’ will be taken and the others dropped.
The due dates are listed in the syllabus (and below), and the required scholarly readings you must draw upon for each paper are available on our Moodle course webpage, organized according to respective course units. In each case a paper is due the day after we have ‘closed’ a thematic unit by discussing it.
Reading Response #1
Naturalizing the Nation –National Parks
Reading Response #2
Nationalism, Race, and Space
Reading Response #3
Gendered Geographies of Nationalism
Reading Response #4
Geographies of White Nationalism
Reading Response #5
Discussion: Nationalism, Heritage and Spaces of Memory I -Slavery and Jim Crow.
Reading Response #6
Nationalism, Heritage and Spaces of Memory II -WWII Japanese American Incarceration.
There are some basic steps associated with the writing process that you should try to maintain throughout the course of the semester, namely:
• Outside of class –complete all the assigned readings, take some notes on them, jot down some questions – ideally in preparation for the respective thematic unit of the course that they accompany.
• Subsequently in each class, continue to take some notes (from the seminar material, discussion, and various multimedia) while also participating in class in an informed manner -thanks to your having done the reading and taken notes in advance!
• Soon after each class, revisit your class notes alongside your notes on the readings, while also revisiting the readings and the class PowerPoint presentation –jotting down a few extra thoughts, just so that you understand stuff better.
As you begin to think about writing one of these ‘reading response’ papers, you should also be completing these additional steps:
• Based on all your notes, begin to sketch/diagram/map what you intend to write about -organizing your thoughts, figuring out the most important issues, jotting down where in your notes (and/or in the readings) you can locate the material you wish to draw upon and discuss.
• Depending upon how you work, you may very well need to take further notes at this stage on various aspects of the assigned readings, just so that you can process the material better and consequently convey a more in-depth understanding on paper.
• If you have written a reading response before, at this stage you should also look over your previous performance(s), just in case there are any general issues that need to be addressed so as to improve future papers. This will require you to access comments electronically and online, via the Turnitin PageMark viewer.
• You should also be completing all the above stages early enough, so that you provide yourself the possibility of getting advice from the professor in good enough time to actually be able to act on that advice.
• Set yourself deadlines therefore to do all of the above, including a self-imposed deadline to complete a rough draft that you subsequently have time to work on improving -for example through a scheduled appointment with a Writing Center tutor each week of the semester.
• For each reading response, you will write a concise, approximately 800-1000-word paper (not including bibliography), and upload it electronically via Turnitin on our Moodle course page by the respective deadline date posted in the syllabus.
• These reading responses are not summaries of the readings, but rather you are expected to engage with the theoretical arguments at hand, and to consider their application to the specific ‘real world’ case-studies we’re covering in class. It is important therefore that you do not respond to the
readings and their utility by ‘shooting from the hip’ with an opinion that is not theoretically-informed and grounded in some ongoing course themes.
• In constructing and writing these papers, you are also expected to pay attention to the rubric (below) by which your comprehension of course material will be assessed.
(Total possible score 100 points)
Introduction. ‘Set the scene’ by identifying what you consider to be the key issue(s) and question(s) in the assigned readings, drawing on course themes and material covered in class. Don’t make this a list (you can’t cover everything!) but rather focus on setting up a ‘framework’ –drawing on scholarly arguments and their utilization in the real world (case study).
Apply that theoretical framework so as to organize a paper in which you consider the various scholarly arguments as ‘lenses’ being utilized and applied to the case study at hand. What do they reveal, are there underlying processes at work, can you critically consider how well these scholarly arguments work?
Your writing makes clear the depth and complexity of your critical spatial thinking, your ability to utilize and critique scholarly arguments in considering their application to the case study –while you also draw on other course materials, and broader course themes. In other words, don’t just summarize what was in each of the readings, but go beyond this -to think and process the arguments, concepts and their utilization.
Conclusion gathers the strands of your thinking together, reflects on tasks completed, considers the ‘bigger picture’, and ponders the ‘so what’ question –ie. why should we care about any of this? Why does it matter?
Write concisely. Use the ‘active voice’ as much as possible, and avoid repetition, extra words, lengthy phrases, euphemisms and clichés.
Scholarly arguments being discussed, applied and considered must be cited properly with references, footnotes and a bibliography. Any common academic style is okay, just choose one and try to stick to it.