Critical Response Assignment Sheet

FINAL PAPER: Critical Response

Beloved Students,

This course began as English 101, a vast unknown of discomfort for most of you taking your first college class, and has ended up as “English 101 Like a Boss,” whereby you have learned how to differentiate between open form and closed-form writing, can recognize and discuss rhetorical tools that writers use, and use them yourselves, know how to discover a problem that you want to write about and depict it in a clear, tension-driven way. You also learned how to structure closed-form prose, write a summary, write an analysis, use smooth transition words, use and cite quotes properly, and for our final assignment, should you choose to accept it, you will demonstrate your ability to write a 5-7 full page critical response paper.

 A critical response paper, you say? But Mrs. Davies, what the heck is a critical response paper?

Traditionally, a critical response paper takes a position of full or partial agreement or disagreement on the points made in a work written by an author. The writer (you) uses supporting statements from the work being written about. The writer also uses additional academic research to show why the original author’s statement is valid or invalid. You do not have to disagree with the point that is being made. “Critical” in this instance means making a “detached evaluation,” and it is your job to weigh the coherence of the reading, the completeness of its data, and so on, before you accept or reject it.

Choose one of the following:

  •  Choose a particular issue relating to disability, read three perspectives on it, and formulate a position that you find most reasonable.
  • Choose a work on disability and write a traditional critical response using supporting secondary sources
  • Write a critical response to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time using supporting secondary sources

It is to be 5-7 pages in length, and use 4 sources from the library database of your choice. Four real sources. No online articles. No Wikipedia.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. First establish a nice, clear, whittled down, specific topic and debatable issue. Research it carefully. Your topic should be connected somehow to our class text “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and our PREFACE events.
  2. The introduction should identify the topic, its relevant context, the various perspectives available, and your thesis – a surprising, specific claim worth making.
  3. The body paragraphs should describe at least three conflicting, yet reasonable positions on that issue, and their justification. Incorporate evidence in the form of summaries, paraphrases, quotes and statistics to substantiate your positions.
  4. Finally, conclude with your determination of the position that is most reasonable to you. Demonstrate your position with respect to those you have described, offering evidence to support your claims. This is the time to make more general claims and suggest what the broader implications of your analysis and position might be.


  • Your four sources should look like models of MLA perfection. All in-text citations: perfect. No sloppy, different font, or backwards indents.
  • Quotes should have attributes.
  • Paragraphs should have forecasting transition words.
  • Write for an audience of academic discourse community: your peers, your professor, as well as an imagined academic audience.
  • Do not miss class this final month. We will be doing something specific to the paper in every class, and it will be easy to fall behind.


  1. Topic proposal: a brief statement of the topic, a longer explanation of what you already know or assume about the topic and why you are interest in it, a description of three or more conflicting, yet reasonable perspectives regarding the topic, and a brief list of possible sources. DUE: Wed 11/11 and Thurs 11/12
  2. Annotate bibliography: five or more sources cited in MLA, followed by a three to four sentence summary and analysis of the  DUE: Wed 11/18 and Thurs 11/19
  3. Research paper introduction: should be a paragraph clarifying the topic, its context, and a clear sense of various positions of other critics, your own position, and the reasoning that supports it. DUE: Mon 11/23 and Tues 11/24
  4. Draft of the paper: your best work, incorporating your research accurately and demonstrating clear purpose, successful organization, and sentence-level correctness.

DUE: Mon 11/30 and Tues 12/2

  1. Your final paper will be due the week of 12/7 to 12/10 – finals week. Date TBA.

Don’t scrimp. Don’t cut corners. Don’t take the easy way out. You are here. You are almost at the finish line. Give it your all.


Dawn S. Davies