Essay #1—Reader-Response Criticism

A reader-response criticism of a text requires you to synthesize the intellectual work of others—that is, to bring together the author’s ideas and your own into an integrated whole. In preparing to write a reader-response criticism, therefore, it is crucial that you allow yourself enough time to digest what you have read and to put the results together into a unified analysis.

After studying reader-response criticism, develop a paper that makes a specific argument addressing one of the prompts below.

  1. Drawing on a broad spectrum of Edgar Allan Poe’s documented biographical history, what seems to be her identity theme, and how does that theme express itself in “The Cask of Amontillado” (1072)?
  2. As the reader moves through David Foster Wallace’s “Good People” (245), what reading experience is produced by the story’s indeterminacy (i.e. characters, actions, dialogue, etc.) that are not clearly explained? How is this reading experience reflective of the story’s thematic content?
  3. What events and descriptions are omitted from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” (173) and how do these omissions function as stimuli for the reader’s interpretation?
  4. In what way(s) does the text structure of “Barn Burning” (217) result in the reader’s ongoing retrospection–anticipation–fulfillment–revision? What interpretation is created as a result?
  5. What does a phrase-by-phrase analysis of Sharon Olds’ “Sex Without Love” tell us about the reading experience built into that text? How does this analysis of what the text does to the reader differ from what the text says or means?
  6. If none of the above prompts is appealing, please invent your own, but run your basic idea by me first.

You must use at least one, no more than two scholarly, secondary sources. Each source must be properly cited in the text of your paper and in a works cited page. This essay should consist of at least 1000 words (not including the Works Cited page). It is worth 100 pts.

Note on format: Your essay must be typewritten in 12-point Times New Roman font. It should be double-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides and should follow MLA format guidelines. Please use italics and quotation marks correctly.

Important: Your essay must be submitted electronically to Canvas in order for me to grade it. I will not accept any essays that are not submitted to Canvas before the due date.

Grading Criteria:

  • Present a fully developed thesis that creates a clear argument
  • Apply psychoanalytical theories accurately to the literary work
  • Use sufficient quotations and analysis as evidence
  • Connect the evidence clearly to the thesis
  • Arrange the argument in a logical manner
  • Conclude the paper by explaining the topic’s significance
  • Follow MLA format and citation guidelines
  • Write at least 1,000 words
  • Use clear, effective language throughout
  • Create an original title that signals the paper’s main idea
Text Box: Checklist 
(Please include the following in this order): 
ü	Rubric** 
ü	Final Draft (85 pts.) 
ü	Thesis worksheet (5 pts.) 
ü	Rough Draft (5 pts.) 
ü	Peer Review (5 pts)
Total: 100 pts. possible
Text Box: Due dates: 
Thesis worksheet	 				
Rough draft 						
2 Peer reviews	 					
Final draft	 					
*this space for student reference only

Grading Rubric – English 103 – Essay #1                             Name ______________________________________            

2.5 = poor          3 = weak              3.5 = adequate   4 = good              4.5 to 5 = excellent


Structure and Cohesion (60 points)


THESIS:                                                                                                          2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) clearly applies theory to the work; accurately sums up essay; clearly worded statement
(-) theory is not used or is misapplied; does not accurately sum up essay; unclear wording

UNITY:                                                                                                           2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) maintains focus; each paragraph relates to thesis; evidence supports thesis effectively
(-) body paragraphs lack focus; topic sentences or some details do not clearly support thesis statement

COHERENCE:                                                                                               2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) strong sense of logic; clear transitions; well-integrated quotations
(-) logic needs improvement; confusing transitions; confusing quotations

DEVELOPMENT:                                                                                         2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) includes enough specific details; achieves sufficient depth of analysis; uses solid evidence
(-) provides insufficient evidence due to lack of quotations, examples, specific details, or analysis

Subtotal __________ x3 = ___________

Diction and Voice (10 points)


PERSONA & READABILITY:                                                                    2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) creates an engaging voice; uses sentence variety; uses effective diction; clarity of expression
(-) distracting voice; awkward or repetitive sentences; problems with diction; lack of clarity; too conversational

CREATIVITY/ORIGINALITY:                                                                 2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) independent thinking; thoughtful comments; original use of language
(-) uncritical thinking; comments limited to received ideas; cliché́ expressions

Subtotal __________

Editing and Formatting (15 points) ______________________________________________________________________________                       

GRAMMAR:                                                                                                  2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5          

(+) error free sentences
(-) comma splices; run-ons; fragments; pronoun problems; modifier problems; improper verb forms

PUNCTUATION/SPELLING/CAPITALIZATION:                                         2.5        3              3.5        4           4.5        5

(+) correct usage
(-) commas, quotation marks; possessive apostrophes; semicolons; spelling; capitalization

FORMATTING:                                                                                             2.5              3           3.5        4           4.5              5

(+) proper heading; correct header; standard margins; proper quotations
(-) heading errors; incorrect header; problems with margins; improper quotations         

Subtotal __________

Paper Points (85) __________ + Writing Process Points (15) __________ = Paper Grade __________

Current progress in course: Excellent             Good    Fair       Poor                  Current Course Grade __________

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