reading response article and prompt include in the files , and the reading response its about ” why the dancing makes this is America article .”
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Critical Thinking and Reading/Critical Reading Response (CRR) Guidelines
In English, and in most college courses, you will be asked to think critically, which mainly
involves two steps: analyzing and drawing conclusions; however, it also means to go beyond the
surface level of a subject and ask the more difficult questions. This handout will explain (first)
how to write the Critical Reading Response (CRR), followed by a brief overview of critical
thinking, and finally, some critical reading strategies, all of which will help you to write an
Critical Reading Response Instructions:
You will be responsible for writing multiple Critical Reading Responses throughout the
semester. You will not write a response for every reading, but only those that are designated on
the course calendar. The main purpose of these responses is to improve your ability to analyze
and critically think about a text.
Once you have read, annotated, and possibly summarized the reading, you are ready to respond
to it in a critical manner. The Critical Reading Response has two parts: The Rhetorical
Précis & the Elaboration.
The Rhetorical Précis is a succinct, highly-structured, four-sentence paragraph (the guidelines
are on a separate handout on Blackboard/Canvas) that analyzes four-five aspects of the reading.
We will be going over this in detail during class.
The second part of the CRR is called the “Elaboration,” which is a more, in-depth analysis
than the précis. It’s also more of a personal response to the reading and a way for you to engage
in a “conversation” with the writer. So, whereas the Précis is limited to a very concise analysis,
the Elaboration can be more open-ended, emotionally-driven, and doesn’t have to follow a strict
formula. To help you formulate the Elaboration, I listed some questions below. You can also go
into more detail about the elements you mention in the précis such as the thesis, evidence, or
Questions to help you write your Elaboration:
• Why type of thesis does the writer use? Is it explicit or implied? Explain.
• Have you experienced anything similar to the author’s experiences? If so, explain or
describe. You could go into a brief narrative as well.
What do you think about the evidence/support? Is it reliable or unreliable? Does the
author use enough support? What would make the reading more convincing or engaging?
Are there certain ideas, phrases, statistics, evidence, or specific quotes that grab your
Do you think the author uses an acceptable organization? Is it chronological, order of
importance, comparison, contrast, or a combination of the above, etc?
Do you agree or disagree with any of the author’s opinions or ideas? Why? You could
even write a “letter” to the author to express your thoughts on the topic.
What types of audiences would appreciate this type of writing or topic? How can you
Does anything seem odd, surprising, or unrealistic? How so?
What types of appeals (logical, ethical, emotional) does the writer use to persuade you?
Are there any logical fallacies or gaps in reasoning?
–Don’t worry too much if you are unfamiliar with some of these terms, as we will be covering
them throughout the class. Also, when you write your Elaboration, it doesn’t need to answer
every question but it should be organized/written in a natural way. Finally, just another
reminder: do not over-summarize.
–Ultimately, when you write any type of response, you should always use specific examples
from the text to support your assertions, arguments, points. Therefore, you should quote,
elucidate (to explain or clarify something), explore (to make a careful investigation or study of a
subject) ideas, themes or concepts in the text.
–Finally, in your Elaboration, it is appropriate to use “I,” especially if you are telling a story or
giving personal experience. However, avoid using unnecessary phrases such as “I feel” or “I
believe” or “In my opinion.” These are wordy and redundant.
Other CRR Requirements: The total word count (including the Précis and Elaboration) should
be between 300-500 words. The CRR must be typed, double-spaced, and formatted in MLA
style. You must submit your CRR to Blackboard/Canvas before the class it is due as well as
hand in a hard copy on the day it is due. CRRs will not be accepted late. They are worth a
possible 25 pts.
√+ (25/25): Goes above and beyond expectations, reflects a deep understanding of the material,
is written in a clear, logical and organized manner, and has minimal grammatical, spelling, and
√ (20/25): Shows a reasonable understanding of the material, is organized in an understandable
manner, and has some grammatical, mechanical, and spelling errors. Essentially, the writer needs
to show more effort.
√- (15/25): Demonstrates a minimal understanding of the material, is organized in a scattered or
confusing manner, has a number of grammatical, mechanical, and spelling errors, and essentially
shows a minimal effort or is short of the required word amount.
• Make sure to edit, spell check and grammar check your CRR.
• Though these reading responses are pretty formal, you can still have fun and be creative;
express your personality
• This is in the realm of academia, so avoid using slang, text message language, and
• When referring to an author, either address him by his full name or last name, never just
his first name
• Titles of articles should be quoted while books and magazines should be italicized
Overview of Critical Thinking:
A SUPER-STREAMLINED CONCEPTION OF CRITICAL THINKING
Developed (last revised 11/26/10) by Robert H. Ennis, [email protected].
A Critical Thinker:
1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives
2. Desires to be, and is, well-informed
3. Judges well the credibility of sources
4. Identifies reasons, assumptions, and conclusions
5. Asks appropriate clarifying questions
6. Judges well the quality of an argument, including its reasons, assumptions, evidence, and their
degree of support for the conclusion
7. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position regarding a belief or an action, doing
justice to challenges
8. Formulates plausible hypotheses
9. Plans and conducts experiments well
10. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context
11. Draws conclusions when warranted – but with caution
12. Integrates all of the above aspects of critical thinking
Although the word ‘critical’ is sometimes used in a negative sense, this conception of critical
thinking is not negative. Also, it does not treat critical thought as persuasion, but critical thought
will, we hope, often be persuasive. The future of democracy depends on it.
Critical Reading Strategies: In order to be a successful critical thinker, one must become a
better critical reader. Here are some suggestions that will improve your critical or active reading
skills (these techniques can also be applied to visual or auditory texts):
1.) Before reading a text, do some preliminary work. Look at the title, author, date of
publication, and where the text was published (web site, book, magazine, etc). See what you can
infer (to make an assumption based on previous knowledge) about the text before even reading
it. It may also be helpful to skim the introduction and conclusion, so you can get the gist of the
2.) Next, read the text once and then start over. Since most of the readings are not too long,
you should read them at least twice. This ensures that you will better understand the content,
which in turn will help you write a stronger Critical Reading Response. During the second read,
engage with the text; in other words, rather than simply reading the words on paper, use a pen, a
pencil, and/or a highlighter to keep track of what you’re reading. Write comments in the margins
(annotate), underline key points or words you don’t understand, highlight passages that are
illuminating or confusing (but if you highlight, make sure to write a comment next to it, so you
remember its significance). All of these things will help to formulate and organize your ideas
when writing your CRRs.
3.) Understand the differences between analysis and summary. When you summarize a text,
you state the work’s main ideas and key points simply, briefly, and accurately. In college
writing, you will most often be asked to analyze a text since this demonstrates critical thinking.
Diana Hacker says, “Whereas a summary most often answers the question of what a text says, an
analysis looks at how a text makes its point. A good analytical response depends on:
• The thoroughness with which you have read the text
• The depth of engagement you exhibit in your writing
A Final Thought: Like many new things you do in life, you might be a little confused at first on
how to write these CRRs. Therefore, just relax, knowing that you have probably done something
similar to this before, and even if it’s completely new, just follow the guidelines here and you
should be fine. The more you engage with the texts in this class, the better you will do on the
essays, presentations, discussions, and other aspects—just remember that everything is linked
and meant to work together to help you become a better critical thinker and writer.
C U LT U R E
Why the Dancing Makes ‘This Is America’ So
Uncomfortable to Watch
The new music video from Childish Gambino weaponizes the viewer’s
instinctive bodily empathy.
AIDA AMOAKO MAY 8, 2018
“This Is America” isn’t the first time that Donald Glover, as his musical alter ego
Childish Gambino, has harnessed dance in service of surrealism. But the art form
has a conspicuous symbolic significance in the artist’s latest single, which Glover
debuted on Saturday Night Live: The song’s emphasis on dance was apparent in his
live performance on the show, in the cover art for the track, and in the remarkable
music video itself, which has more than 36 million views on YouTube as of
publication. In the video, a grinning, shirtless Glover dances through a giant
warehouse, occasionally accompanied by black school children in uniform, as
chaotic scenes of violence unfold behind him—and are sometimes enacted by him.
One popular interpretation is that the short film—directed by Glover’s frequent
collaborator Hiro Murai—is a denunciation of the distractions that keep many
Americans from noticing how the world around them is falling apart. Those
diversions are represented by Glover and the schoolkids’ performances; their
choreographed moves include at least 10 diﬀerent popular dances, such as the
shoot and the South African Gwara Gwara. Viral dances tend to be associated with
frivolity and vapidity, despite the fact that dancing has always been a
communicative art of great cultural significance that spreads joy through
movement. Glover, however, subverts an uplifting communal activity to deliver a
powerful indictment of the unsettling contradictions in American society.
Though the word viral is so associated with internet-sharing now, the virus-like
quality of dance was being analyzed long before the existence of social media. John
Martin, one of the first prominent dance critics, described the medium’s eﬀect on
its audience as a contagion. He suggested in his book Introduction to the Dance
(1939) that when we watch others dance, “we shall cease to be mere spectators and
become participants in the movement that is presented to us, and though to all
outward appearances we shall be sitting quietly in our chairs, we shall nevertheless
be dancing synthetically with all our musculature.”
Decades later, inspired by ’90s research on so-called mirror neurons—cells
discovered in the brains of monkeys that react equally when the body performs an
action as when it sees the action performed—modern dance theorists such as Ivar
Hagendoorn and Susan Leigh Foster applied the idea to humans. Kinesthetic
empathy, critics like Foster have argued, is what makes dance feel so infectious—
and what prompts the body, upon seeing another body dance, to internally
simulate the movement.
If you watch “This Is America” on YouTube, you might stumble on videos of people
who recorded their own reactions to it. Many of these viewers sway along with
Glover at first, rolling their own shoulders, nodding to the afro folk–inspired
melody as the musician twists his bare torso, revealing his own musculature and
contorting his body in ways both alluring and disturbing. But the benign nature of
that contagion is shattered when the first gunshot rings out 53 seconds in, and with
the jarring transition of the melody to dark, pulsing trap. In the reaction videos,
mouths fall open, and people are stunned into paralysis. The shooting itself is
shocking, but so is that fact that Glover carries on dancing as if nothing happened.
An internal struggle begins in the viewer’s body, which is pulled between joy and
horror. Just as the video questions how we can dance when there is pandemonium
all around, the audience struggles with whether to continue moving, too, after
witnessing such brutality, especially after Glover shoots an entire choir of gospel
singers, supposedly in reference to the 2015 murder of nine churchgoers by Dylann
Roof in Charleston, South Carolina.
Susan Leigh Foster, in her paper and performed lecture Kinesthetic Empathies and
the Politics of Compassion, outlines Martin’s idea that the internal mimicry of
movement extends to emotion, which gives dance the ability to transcend class,
cultural, and racial barriers. While there’s certainly value in this potential for
universalism, “This Is America” complicates the question of empathy
(intentionally or otherwise) because of its references to racial trauma and racist
violence. Does the video—which foregrounds black suﬀering—aim to send a single
message to all viewers, to all Americans, regardless of race? Some people were
especially troubled by the shooting of the choir: If the scene is meant to evoke an
atrocity committed by a white terrorist with a specifically anti-black agenda, what
does it mean to see a black man re-create it? And to bring the issue back to the
video’s use of dance, what does it mean for nonblack viewers to internally simulate
movement inspired by black pain?
Because of all the thorny debates it prompts—and because of how much there is to
process, both intellectually and emotionally—“This Is America” seems made for
repeat watching. But the dancing, too, reveals its power in a second and third
viewing. The dramatic irony is pervasive. It even feels like Glover is aware of your
presence. His satisfaction that the viewer has been lulled into a false sense of
security seems apparent in the languidness with which he pulls out that gun from
his waistband, poses, and then shoots the hooded man in the head.
The scientist Vittorio Gallese, who was part of the team of researchers who
discovered mirror neurons, describes kinesthetic empathy as “involuntary and
automatic.” Therein lies the dilemma for viewers of “This Is America,” who might
recoil at the chaos and yet feel a strong impulse to dance anyway. One man,
recording his reaction, summed up this tension when he remarked: “I’m lowkey
scared of him right now. But I have to bop my head.”
This kind of empathy means viewers cannot, really, just be passive observers. The
video’s juxtaposition of carefree dancing with carnage and disorder, the vacillation
between the gospel-Afrobeat hybrid and the harsher, sparse rap reﬂects the discord
in the audience’s bodies, our faces perhaps displaying discomfort while our bodies
betray us. In doing so, “This Is America” perverts the positive potential of dance’s
collective nature, taking it from something celebratory to something far more
disturbing that implicates us all.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write
to [email protected].
February 7, 2018
In the article “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” (1998), Sherman
Alexie suggests that reading and writing are not only an important part of a child’s education and
growth, but it can potentially save lives. Alexie supports his narrative through various personal
examples that illustrate his love for reading as a result of his father’s influence and Superman
comics. The author’s purpose is to encourage young people to overcome any racial, economical,
and social barriers inflicted on them in order to achieve success in life. The author writes in a
somewhat humorous but mostly inspirational tone to marginalized youth as well as those who
have the influence to help them.
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