We All Go Through It ( Reading Journal)

The point is to just do the readings, and then briefly talk about your reaction. What stood out to you? What stuck in your head?

You will make at least one entry for each week, making sure to refer to every reading assigned that week. Your entry should be dated and given some sort of title or label. While you do not have to write extensively about each individual reading or author in the set, you should at least make some quick notes about main topics/themes for each one so you can remember them later. You must address all the readings (to some degree) in order to get full credit. The bulk of your journal entry should engage with the week’s reading in some way. Usually, you can use the weekly theme or lecture as a starting point, but if something really jumps out at you, then you should explore it!

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What an Entry Should Look Like

Feel free to write in the first person (“I think…I don’t understand…I saw a similarity…”). Your journal response might include your general reactions to the literary work, questions you have about it, connections to topics from class discussions, or revisions to your earlier thinking after having the benefit of additional time for reflection.

Possible specific approaches include looking at a passage, episode, or even single sentence from the reading that puzzles, moves, or upsets you—it’s tempting to skate past those moments, but instead slow down and focus on them; considering the significance or motivations of a character from one of the stories that we read; comparing different readings to each other; debating with me or a fellow student about an idea from discussion. I encourage you to write about things that challenge and push you. You can also connect the course material to your own life experience – just remember that the focus should be on the text.

It’s okay to think about how you felt reading a particular text or whether you enjoyed it or not. Just make sure always then to ask yourself, why? What is important is why you found a particular text appealing or unappealing, why you had a particular emotional reaction, why you agreed or disagreed with particular aspects of a text. Responding to these second level questions can refine your thinking about literature, your knowledge of yourself, and your values.


Your journal entry is due at midnight on Tuesday for each unit, and each entry is worth 15 points. In evaluating your journals, I will not be grading your grammar, nor will I be critiquing your ideas. Rather, I will be looking for these things:

Length of entries: Are the entries at least 250 words or longer and do they include the date and a title or label?
Appropriateness and vitality of entries: Are the entries relevant to the course and written clearly? Do the entries demonstrate serious efforts to come to terms with ideas from the weekly readings?

It may be tempting to see assignments such as this course reading journal—assignments that an instructor won’t be grading as formally as an essay or exam—as less important. Nothing could be further from the truth with this assignment. Your enjoyment and understanding of our readings, as well as your improvement in literary analysis, in writing, and in critical thinking, will be a direct result of the time you put into this assignment.

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