Drama as Literature (EL 250)

29 Aug 2005

Reflection Paper

For EL250, a reflection paper (see example) is an informal written statement that demonstrates that you are coming to class prepared to do your part to advance the discussion of a reading. (It's the fourth "R" in the "RRRR" sequence.)

You may post it on your weblog, if you wish.

Your 200-word reflection should include a direct quotation from and several specific references to the assignged text. It should also refer to a specific statement made by at least one of your peers (emphasizing how that peer's opinion differs from or modifies your own).

Bring a printout to class. (I might not always collect it, but I'd like you to be able to consult it if called upon.)


  1. Include at least one direct quotation from the assigned reading.
  2. Engage critically and intellectually with that quotation.
  3. Refer by name to at least one peer whose online reaction differs from or modifies yours (a simple "I agree with Sally" isn't what I'm looking for).
  4. Length: about 200 words (not counting quotations).

On a given discussion day, I may ask you to trade reading reflections and discuss them in small groups. I may call on you and ask you to read your response paper aloud. I might collect them, but only read half. I might not collect them at all.

Punctuation and grammar are not terribly important in a response paper, and neither is finding the "right" interpretation. I'm simply interested in evidence that you are keeping up on the readings and thinking about them before you come to class.

The Portfolio assignment will ask you to post on your weblog an expanded version of one of the agenda items (yours or a peer's). If you put a little extra work into your reflection now, you'll have less work to do later when you compile your portfolio.

You can think of your reflection paper as potentially focusing on knowledge, analysis, and a position statement (thesis).


What facts or details must the reader know in order to understand this passage? (Is the play a comedy or a tragedy? Does the setting (time and place) of the scene affect our understanding? What does a search of the internet tell you about the playwright, the setting, or some of the things the characters talk about? Do any terms we have recently encountered help you make sense of what the dramatist is attempting? If you were teaching this text to your peers, what would they have to know first in order to understand it? What do you want to know more about?)


What cultural or ethical issues does this passage illustrate? What social justice principles seem to apply here? If you see symbolism in the play, or a political message, or something confusing, break it down into parts. What is the conflict? How does the protagonist change? Where is the turning point? What does the playwright conceal from the audience at the beginning? What has the audience learned by the end of the play?

Position Statement (Thesis)

Based on the details and analysis that you have provided so far, do you see some unifying question? Identify an issue, take a stand, and be prepared to invite the class to weigh in.

Simple yes/no questions rarely spark much discussion. Neither would:

This author uses a lot of symbolism. [List of symbols goes here.] Do you agree that this author uses a lot of symbolism?

The above example is shallow. It does not invite debate or demonstrate college-level analytical skills.

Try instead:

"Heart in the Ground" is not really about gender. The initial action suggests it will be a play about marital conflict, but the symbolism suggests the play is, instead, a celebration of nature.

See: Reading Response -- Sample

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