Writing: Responding

For your next piece I’d like you to write in response to a text that interests you. Your aim should be to write an engaging piece in which you speak in your own voice as an intellectual—as someone, that is, who has things to say about texts and ideas.

By text I mean an artifact crafted to convey meaning. A text is something you can cite and quote directly, and that your readers can access independently of you. A book is a text, but so is a movie, a song, an image, a drawing, an advertisement, a video, a letter, an email, a tweet, and so on. The text you write about may be in any medium: print, digital, video, audio, graphic, architectural, sculptural, and so on. You can also write about a performance or event—so long as it has been “textualized” or recorded in some way. What’s essential, though, is that you choose a text that sustains and repays your attention as a reader, that prompts interesting thinking and writing on your part.

Because what this piece should really center on is your mind at work. We read a good critical essay for the perspective that an author brings to her topic, for the pleasure of listening to her voice as a writer. We read, that is, as much for the writer as for the subject. You thus have two challenges in this exercise: To say something of interest about a text that engages you, and to say in it a voice that feels distinctively your own.

Deadline: Thurs, 4/13, 10:00 am, in your individual Google Drive folder.

Make sure to provide a reference to the text you’re writing about—and a hyperlink, if you can. The citation format is not important. What matters is that your readers can access the text you’re writing about.


About Joe Harris

I teach composition, creative nonfiction, and digital writing at the University of Delaware.
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