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Response Analysis Essay

Writing Effective Summary and Response Essays

The Summary:

A summary is a concise paraphrase of all the main ideas in an essay. It cites the author and the title (usually in the first sentence); it contains the essay's thesis and supporting ideas; it may use direct quotation of forceful or concise statements of the author's ideas; it will NOT usually cite the author's examples or supporting details unless they are central to the main idea. Most summaries present the major points in the order that the author made them and continually refer back to the article being summarized (i.e. "Damon argues that ..." or "Goodman also points out that ... "). The summary should take up no more than one-third the length of the work being summarized.

The Response:

A response is a critique or evaluation of the author's essay. Unlike the summary, it is composed of YOUR opinions in relation to the article being summarized. It examines ideas that you agree or disagree with and identifies the essay's strengths and weaknesses in reasoning and logic, in quality of supporting examples, and in organization and style. A good response is persuasive; therefore, it should cite facts, examples, and personal experience that either refutes or supports the article you're responding to, depending on your stance.

Two Typical Organizational Formats for Summary/Response Essays:

1. Present the summary in a block of paragraphs, followed by the response in a block:

Summary (two to three paragraphs)
Agreement (or disagreement)
Disagreement (or agreement)

Note: Some essays will incorporate both agreement and disagreement in a response, but this is not mandatory.

2. Introduce the essay with a short paragraph that includes your thesis. Then, each body paragraph summarizes one point and responds to it, and a conclusion wraps the essay up.

Summary point one; agree/disagree
Summary point two; agree/disagree
Summary point three; agree/disagree

Tullia's posts in this past thread go into detail about college course response papers: More about response papers and their context. Also: I liked this teacher's summary of what a reader response IS -- and what it is NOT.



Totally my opinion, with nothing to back this up -- BUT... I see a lot of overlap in the two, but with the following differences:


a reader response is

- much shorter (only 1-5 paragraphs or so long, focus on just one or just a few thoughts)

- more informal (may be written in first person; may include personal likes/dislikes, opinions, what you noticed, your reaction; informal language; not every point formally backed up with examples)

- initial impressions / may be written in-the-midst of reading / may focus on small details that stood out

- perhaps most like some of your initial thoughts and annotations written up into paragraph form


a literary analysis essay is

- longer (multi-page)

- more formal (written in third person; formal, structured paper; all points backed up with examples; citations)

- includes how literary elements are at work to support the author's themes/intent, or your contention and analytical reading of the work

- post-reading paper, with much thought, analyzes the work as a whole, researched to understand the background of the author / times

- perhaps most like a formal work of criticism


Neither are summaries of the story, though include just enough of the specific scene being used as an example to make the scene clear to the reader. Both types of writing include specific examples from the work to support the writer's contention. Both discuss what deeper themes, purposes, and literary elements were seen in the work -- the reader response usually in response to a teacher-posed question or writing out the reader's reactions, and the literary analysis in terms of research, formal thought and support, with an almost science-lab type of conclusion.



Specifically re: your DS's paper: I totally agree with you:


This is a literary analysis topic: "to compare the revenge provocation and tactics from Wuthering Heights and The Count of Monte Cristo"


This is a reader response is writing style, tone, and approach to a teacher-posed question: "After reading Wuthering Heights, I immediately thought of how Heathcliff's revenge seemed very evil in contrast to another book I read, The Count of Monte Cristo."



Just my 2 cents of babbling...   Any minute now, someone else will post a wonderfully concise explanation / definition of each...

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