Examining Your Reactions After Reading: A Three-Part Exercise

Part One:

Answer the following questions freely (write whatever comes to mind) to gauge the extent to which the text influenced your views. 

  1. What does the author want me to believe or agree with?
  2. What were my beliefs about the subject before I read this?
  3. What are my beliefs about it now?
  4. What has the text convinced me of specifically?
  5. What do I still have doubts about?
  6. What questions does this text raise for me?
  7. What insights do I have now that I didn’t have before I read this?

Part Two:

Now, although you may firmly agree or disagree with the author’s views, you will take turns writing from each perspective. First you will write freely in support of the author, looking at the world through the author’s perspective. We can call this “writing with the author.” You will look to your own personal experiences, memories, and knowledge for anything that is in line with the author’s argument.

Next, you must think of all the problems, contradictions, and weak points in the author’s argument. We can call this “writing critically about the author’s ideas.” Either one of these roles may be harder for you, depending on whether you have a strong opinion about the subject. However, this is a very important exercise for critical readers, because it teaches you to explore unfamiliar perspectives.

Part Three:

Think of questions you would ask the author if you could. These may include ideas that came up during the first two parts of this exercise, your doubts about or problems with their argument, or a request for clarification or expansion on a point.

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