Reading response #1

Your first RR should involve a closer critical reading of any two assigned chapters from Wendell Berry.

In the future, make sure to review the Reading Response requirements in the syllabus, the rubric at, and the further guidance below in this RR upload link only.

Most basically, I am looking for about half your RR to be a careful and scholarly summary of the main points in a reading. Then in the second half of your RR, I am looking for you to focus in what you found most interesting, and develop your viewpoint, and potentially do some additional research.

Further Guidance on RR’s (Return Here for a Refresher):

Make sure to carefully read the paragraph on RR’s in the syllabus and to consult the rubric (uploaded in his Module and on If you want to see your grade breakdown per the rubric, you can upload your RR’s in PDF with Rubric included as an extra page in the PDF, but this is not required.

The most common serious oversight for submitted RR’s is not meeting the length requirements, which are strict. For this first RR and throughout the semester, I will not grade RR’s that do not meet the length requirement of 2 solid pages of text (double-spaced at 12 pt font with standard margins). If the text starts somewhere down the 1st page, and end somewhere down the 2nd page, that is NOT two pages of text.

Another general rule of thumb for RR’s is that you will first need to give an accurate and insightful summary of those aspect of the assigned readings you are working with, and engage with the professor’s lecture/lesson where relevant. This usually takes up about 1/2 of the RR. Next, you should focus on one to three aspects, themes, or moments in the reading that you found interesting, and provide a critical and/or creative interpretation in your own words. Generally, RR’s that get up to 4.5-5/5 will demonstrate mastery of reading and the lecture content and lesson. Highest grades usually involve some added research into particular points.

For RR’s based on coursepack readings, these readings usually more thematically unified, and so easier to write RR’s on. For RR’s based on the textbook, each chapter covers more individual items and sub-topics than you could possibly cover for an RR. Accordingly, if there is an option for developing an RR based on a textbook chapter, this might involve you doing some additional research. In some cases, for example, long citations from primary sources in the textbook, this might be unnecessary, but in others, like when a complicated topic gets reduced to a few paragraphs, some additional research is essential to produce a quality RR.

Late RR’s are accepted through to the end of semester. But be forewarned, I reserve the right to only award only half for late work. If a late RR is of high quality, I may boost it to a 3.5/5, but don’t count on me to do this. What this means is that late RR’s will have a significant impact on your final grade and should be avoided.

When RR’s do not meet the requirements, I will generally give a 0/5, and allow the student to re-upload a revision. The maximum grade for re-uploads will be either 3.5/5 or 4/5. Remember: RR’s are worth 5% of your final grade each, and 20% total. Any student hoping to pass with at least a C cannot afford to miss several.

These instructions apply to all future RR’s, so return here, and to the RR Rubric, for a refresher as needed.

Here is the paragraph in the syllabus on RR’s: “Reading Responses must cover one assigned reading for the current week, or immediately preceding week. A Reading Response Rubric is available at, and on Canvas. Check Canvas for more specific instructions for each RR. Late RR’s are accepted for half credit. Length requirements are strict. RR’s must be between 2-3 pages of text, 1.5- or double-spaced typed, 12 pt. font with standard margins. An RR that ends half way down Pg. 2 does not meet the length requirements, and is only 1.5 pages of text. Between the lesson, reading & writing expect to spend 3-4 hours per Reading Response.

Here is the rubric. When it comes to citation method, you can use MLA or Chicago, but it’s not required. Just providing Author, Year, and Page number in Parenthesis and a title or link in the footnotes is sufficient for RR’s.


Core Content: The response focuses on the pertinent reading(s) per instructions. It demonstrates sufficient time (at least 2-3 hrs) reading/thinking about, and researching the material. It develops themes/concepts from the readings in your own words—either formulating these yourself or developing them from study questions—and poses relevant questions and points of possible clarification to the reading. It utilizes online or other resources where appropriate to deepen context and understanding. It presents an adequate array of information, citation, and explanation to demonstrate mastery of core content.

Exemplary Good Average Poor Neglected

Accuracy/Insight: The points made in the reading response are correct and generally interesting, and based upon a relevant array and integration of citations from the primary sources, and where applicable and relevant, secondary sources. The response potentially contributes something of intellectual or human value to our class discussion about the reading. Quotes from all texts are used in a transparent manner, and are well explained.

Exemplary Good Average Poor Neglected

Style/grammar: The response is written clearly, logically, and carefully, i.e. it is free of grammar and spelling mistakes, and reflects college-level writing and critical thinking. Use and applications of argument: arguments are well laid out, assumptions, counter-positions, and implications of main arguments are carefully stated, explored, & revisited.

Exemplary Good Average Poor Neglected

Formatting/Length/Citation Practice: The response is at least 2-3 pages, 1.5 or Double Spaced, 12 pt. font with standard margins (1 inch). Clear bibliographical information is provided, and cited appropriately (MLA/Chicago, or Author, Year, Page).

Exemplary Good Average Poor Neglected

Criticality &Creativity. Beyond demonstrating sufficient work ethic (above), the response demonstrates significant critical and creative thought, both in regards to the philosophical, humanistic, existential, aesthetic, or ethical value, etc., of the reading, and in regards to its application to contemporary issues, events, or concerns. If experimental in genre, the response is self-aware regarding its aims, accomplishments, and limitations.

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