Peer Response for Draft Research Essay

Complete the following for each draft in your group tutorial (those peers meeting with you, as scheduled on the Bb wiki). This should take you about one hour for each draft. Remember that your peers will be doing this for you and that it equals about one week’s worth of classwork.

Print out each draft. Bring to the workshop your printed, marked copy of each draft (part A) AND your typed, printed responses (part B) below.

Part A: Mark the draft.  As you read, mark up the draft exactly like this:

1. Underline all claims: Underline everything that looks like a claim.  For each one, ask:  is it contestable? substantive? specific?  Where is it directed? What is the “versus what”?

2. For every use of a source–whether quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or otherwise alluded to–mark it as I, B, E, A, &/or, M to note whether it is functioning for the purposes of Instancing, Background fact, Exhibit/Evidence, Argument, &/or Method. See the Proposal/Biblio for those distinctions.  The key here is:  what is the student writer’s relationship to that source?  What is the student writer doing with that source?

3. Pretend to doubt everything in the draft–every vague assertion and every descriptive detail.  When you pretend to doubt, where do you want more detail or elaboration? What exactly could the writer do to help you out of that pretend doubt? Mark this kind of thing in the margin. Where are the most important doubts, and which ones seem petty?

Part B: Type up your responses to these prompts:

1. What are the “centers of gravity” for this draft?  What are its most interesting, most surprising, most revealing moments to you? This could be any part of the paper at all:  an elegant sentence, a detailed descriptions, a surprising but effective way to organize the essay.  Anything.

2. What does the draft almost but not quite say?  Where do you see claims that could be sharpened in focus or developed more fully? Where does the draft hint at something that it could just come out and say more directly?  State this in your own words, perhaps speculatively:

So, you say that the images can speak, but do you mean they work exactly like spoken language–with specific syntax and vocabulary? Are the elements of the picture like words? and their arrangement like syntax? How does this work exactly, with these images? How do audiences (then or now) know how to “read” them?  Can the images be “misread”?

That’s it! Bring it all to the tutorial, ready to use it for conversation & to hand it over to your peer at the end.

Note: If you like these ideas, you’ll find versions of them and more in Peter Elbow & Pat Belanoff, Sharing & Responding, 3rd ed. McGraw Hill, 1999.


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