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Writing a Response Paper The purpose of these papers is to provide you with a formal opportunity to reflect carefully and critically on the texts we are reading and the ideas we are exploring. 1. Read Carefully – Be a careful and thoughtful and critical reader. For each text you read, ask who is writing this text? To whom is it directed? What type of text is it? Why did the author feel compelled to write it? What idea is the author trying to convey? What argument is the author developing? What are the connections between this text and any of the other material we have read? In what ways does a particular text illuminate or expand upon the various issues that are at the center of inquiry? 2. Narrow Focus – Each week students will read several primary and secondary sources. Do not try to discuss all or even several of the readings in such a short paper; rather, select a particular text or issue to examine in your paper. In such a short paper, you will only enough space to discuss one or two ideas or passages. 3. Analysis (Not Description or Summary) – Avoiding describing the contents of the readings or summarizing them. Focus on analysis and critical examination of the texts. For example, rather than simply observe that Hippocrates presents a different etiology for epilepsy in the text The Sacred Disease, discuss why he is doing so, what is at stake in the debate over illness etiologies? Why is this an issue or a question for him? 4. Elaboration – Avoid making statements about your own responses and ideas without explaining or elaborating upon them. For example, rather than simply stating that you find Hippocratic understandings of the nature of disease unconvincing, explain why you find such to be the case. Avoid noting that something is interesting/intriguing/confusing without elaborating further; state why you find something interesting/intriguing/odd/illuminating/confusing, etc.