There are many assignments due for this class that are called "responses." Students are often confused by these assignments, in part because they are less formal than what they have been asked to write for classes in the past. These are not essays or themes: they do not need to support a single argument or provide a neat introduction and conclusion. Responses can include questions for the class, conjectures, gut feelings, and speculations. They should, however, provide specific textual evidence for whatever points they want to make. (In other words, quote readings specifically, with page numbers, rather than referring vaguely to them.) Responses should represent a first attempt to make sense out of the assignment, a first effort to get the bits and pieces you have marked in the reading to hang together in some way. In grading them, I will reward careful presentation of textual evidence, intellectual risk-taking, and efforts to provide material for class discussion. I also expect you to write in standard prose, as opposed to the less formal language of email. As far as the content of responses goes, however, be fearless: the correctness of these preliminary thoughts is not a factor. Responses are due by 11:00 pm the evening before the class for which they are assigned. Because the success of this course depends on our ability to read and consider responses in advance of each class session, late responses will incur severe grade penalties: the maximum grade for a late response will be a C.
Here's how I imagine you doing these assignments:
You read the assigned readings, and mark them up accordingly with passages that strike you. In some cases, you may be assigned to follow a particular theme or answer a particular question. Other times, I will leave the assignment open-ended.
Should you have trouble with the discussion board server for any reason, send an email to the class (including me) with your response, and post it to the board when the technical problems are resolved.
These responses will be fodder for class discussions and for papers. Each student should print all the responses for each class and mark potential comments or questions. I might collect your copies of the responses occasionally to see how well this process is working.