LES 447 – Women in American Law
Response Paper Assignment
Due to Canvas Mondays at 5:00 PM (5 times)
Five times during the semester, you will submit a 2-page (doubled-spaced) paper which responds to the previous week’s readings. Your response to the week’s readings will be due at
5 PM on the following Monday. At the beginning of the semester, you will sign up for five different weeks when you will submit a response paper. You will submit your essays through Canvas.
In each paper, you should identify a big interpretive problem or puzzle raised by the previous week’s readings, stated in the form of a question written at the top of the page—usually a why or how question. You should then go on to propose and support a possible answer to this question by analyzing and using evidence from the readings and our class lectures/discussions. Particularly good questions are ones that connect the readings in the class (or readings from other classes). Whether you link together two or more texts or focus on just one aspect of the week’s reading assignments, make sure that you come up with a problem that has relevant implications for our understanding of the course’s issues. The answer to your question should be an argument, and you need to support your argument (and claims) with evidence from the readings and class lectures/discussions (avoid quotes: this is a short paper about your argument and analysis). Address the significance (the so what? question) in your paper—think big, think bold.
These papers are not just reading notes or informal responses. They need to do more than just summarize or paraphrase the readings. They focus on a question. The writing should be polished. If you quote, paraphrase, or summarize anything from the readings or class, your citations should be formatted in APA citation style (again, quote very selectively).
Response papers that are especially insightful or thought provoking will receive an A. If it is clear that you did the reading and attempted to engage with it in a thoughtful way, you will receive a B. If it is not clear how well you did the reading, or if your analysis/insights are very basic, you can expect a C. If your paper shows little engagement with the ideas and themes of the reading, you will likely get a D or F.
Expectations for Argument-Based Writing
Argument – Have you developed a sophisticated and persuasive argument? Have you clearly and effectively introduced your argument in the essay’s introduction? Have you developed, foregrounded, and supported your argument throughout your essay? Have you revised your essay with a specific focus on the clarity and consistency of your argument?
Evidence – Have you supported and illustrated your argument through the effective use of specific evidence? Have you provided a compelling and thoughtful interpretation of your evidence and its significance for your argument? Have you included all relevant evidence that supports your argument, made careful choices about the evidence that is relevant to your argument, and accounted for evidence that might contradict your argument?
Structure – Does the order of your essay have a logic and is it organized around that logic? Have you constructed your paragraphs so that they introduce
one subset of your essay’s larger argument? Have you
carefully concentrated on composing topic sentences that clearly convey the paragraph’s argument? Does your introduction concisely describe your essay’s topic, articulate your essay’s argument, and provide a roadmap for your essay’s organization? Does your conclusion reemphasize your essay’s argument while gesturing to its larger implications?
Prose – Is your writing clear? Is your writing stylish? Have you written in active voice? Have you proofread and excised any grammatical mistakes or typos?
Mechanics – Have you properly formatted your citations? Have you been careful to introduce any quotations (rather than simply “dropping” quotations in)? Have you included a title and page numbers? Have you submitted your essay to the appropriate module on Canvas?
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