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DDD Reader Response Essay

The Reader Response Essay (DRAMA)

YOU will write on A Streetcar Named Desire 


The Reader Response Essay (DRAMA)


What is a reading response essay?

A critical essay that tells the reader what the specific reading means to you.  It reflects a close reading of the work, contains specific examples drawn from the work (documented parenthetically with page numbers), and provides your well-considered opinion of the work's strengths and/or shortcomings.  The essay demonstrates that you have read the text, internalized and contextualized its arguments, and can articulate and substantiate your reactions to it. 


Ask yourself the following questions as you prepare to write a reader response paper.  You don't  need to include the answers to these questions in your paper, but they can help organize your thoughts and decide what you'd like to write about in your response.

  • What were the main arguments of the text?  Did the author, in your opinion, do a decent job of the following through ono those arguments? Why or why not?
  • How is the text "talking" to other parts of the historical literature?  Is the author styling him or herself as a particular type of writer?  (women's historical, social historical, political historian etc.) Who are their subjects? What is their purpose in writing this text?
  • What parts of the text do you like the most, and why?
  • How does this book relate to what interests you about this study within History? What did you learn from it?  If you didn't learn much, why was that?
  • What questions did this text leave with you?  What would you like to learn more about?
  • What about the author's style and methodology do you like or dislike? How are they using sources and how does this reflect on the integrity and validity of their arguments?  



The requirements of this essay are as follows:

  1. The essay must be at least (2) full pages. Those who do not meet this requirement will one lose a letter grade automatically. The essay must be in MLA format (12pt font, Times Roman). 
  2. For this essay, you will write about the drama selection that we have read for the class. The topic is up to you, but must be more detailed than “This is a good story” or “This play sucked.” 
  3. As always, choose a topic that is interesting to you. Also always try to write about something you know. This essay should require little to no research. While you may use outside sources, the text should be your main source of evidence. 
  4. This is a formal academic essay. The use of “you” and NOT allowed. There should also be no contractions in this essay. As a reader response is an opinion, it is okay to use “I,” but you may want to attempt to write without it, as the readers should automatically assume this is your opinion. 
  5. Transitions are still important in this essay. Some transitions that could be used in this essay are: also, another, not only…but, while. 
  6. This is still the important part, folds. You must use evidence to back up any statements. That means specific examples and explanations. Don’t use “I think”; this is your essay, it’s a given that this is what you think.  


Structuring a Reader Response Essay

This essay can be written as a process essay, a compare/contrast essay, an argumentative essay, a cause and effect essay, exemplification or definition essay.

Some sample directions to take to your paper in:

  1. Process Essay - Discuss how the author sets up the play and how it is effective or not. Discuss the elements used in the writing and how they affect the story. 
  2. Compare and Contrast- 
  3. Argument - How does this play compare with other readings we’ve read in class? How does it compare with other books you’ve read or movies you've seen. How does this poem compare with reality? How does this poem compare with the author’s life, or his/her own writing.
  4. Cause/Effect – What elements in the play lead up to the climax? What actions could have taken place or been avoided to cause an alternate ending? Were the choices the characters in the story/poem made good choices? Did factors outside of the text affect choices or actions?
  5. Exemplification/Definition- Does this play fit a specific example (genre) of writing (i.e. horror, comedy, tragedy). Why? Are the characters in the story/poem examples of certain personality traits (bravery, foolishness, drama queen jerk)? Is a specific writing element (plot, setting, tone, narration, word usage) used in a interesting way to move the story/poem along?




  Attributes of a good Reader Response Essay  

  • Details and examples from the text, BUT the whole paper should not simply be a summary
  • Explanation of any points or examples
  • A thesis statement which explains what you are saying in your paper. 



THIS is a Sample format for a reader response paper of 4.5 to -5 pages min and a min of three sources (one can make adjustments for paper length): 


  • Introduction/theme: 1-2 paragraphs that “set the stage” for what will follow. Possible entry
    points include: a broader trend that interests you in this time frame in history and how this text's
    contents explain it; another text (or school of thought) that this text either supports or
    refutes; assumptions or opinions you hold that this book might challenge. 
  • Background: 2-3 paragraphs that introduce the book, its main arguments and context in which
    it was written, and place the text in its historiographic context (i.e., how it relates to other
    literature on the subject).
  • Analysis: 3 to 5 paragraphs use the remainder of the paper to hone in on a certain element of the text and
    provide your opinion of it. This, as much as anything, is the “thesis” of this essay. You may
    choose to focus on the main argument of the text, or just one element of the text (for
    example, the author’s treatment of gender, or the author’s conclusions about the durability of
    third parties, or the author’s style and research methodology). The analysis should contain
    direct quotes or paraphrased examples from the book (all cited with page numbers) to support
    your argument.
  • Conclusion:1 to 2 paragraph that brings us back to your entering statement and states the wider
    significance of this work to you, and to the literature.
  • CITATION: MLA style.  (Works Cited is not included in the page number min.)



Essay value: 40 points


This assignment is the creative property of Felicia Stovall any use without her expressed written consent is plagiarism. 


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