Week 3 To-Do/Notes on Reading Responses

By Wednesday night (1/28), post a short reading response for the Caillois.

As I mentioned today, I was generally really pleased with everyone’s first efforts! But there’s always room for improvement, so I wanted to reiterate a few points to keep in mind for your weekly responses:

  • One of the tricks or traps here (and something we’ll be working on all semester in our writing in all its permutations) is using the readings as a springboard for your own thoughts, while at the same time spending some time thoughtfully dealing with the substance of the texts. That means striking a balance between particular (e.g., specific references to concepts, ideas, terms found in a text) and the more general (where the readings are going to inspire you to go). It’s something to pay attention to before submitting a response: what specific references to our texts are you making? A general hand wave in the direction of someone’s name is not enough. On the other hand, we don’t want to be rehashing the argument of a text. Don’t forget, you will have a lot of self-directed opportunities to expound on concepts that appeal to you (see the “Assignments” tab if you need a reminder!): the reading response is more of a check in.
  • Pay attention to your prose and proofreading. Just because a blog seems like (and can be) a more casual format doesn’t mean formatting and general mechanics get thrown out the window. Paragraph breaks are your friend!
  • Don’t forget to think about how this interfaces with readings we’ve done in other weeks, or other historical issues you have come across in your studies. While each week has a different focus, I want us to be thinking about everything together, as it builds from week to week, not simply in isolation.
  • The primary function here is to respond to the readings. While pulling in personal experience can be useful or interesting, I want (and need) to see how you are working through the readings in a sustained, thoughtful manner. If you spend as much or more time in your reading response talking about you & your experiences as about the readings, the balance is off.
  • While use of the reading guides is optional, I’d suggest you peruse them to see the kinds of questions and topics/big issues I am expecting you to bring up in your responses. Again, it is not supposed to be a laundry list of questions to answer, but to help you organize your own thoughts.
  • Finally, I would ask if you’re making references to specific games that are not described in the readings (I refer here specifically to digital games, though plenty of board/table games will also fall into the ‘not quite familiar’ category), please provide a quick hyperlink to some place where those of us who may not be familiar with the game(s) can get a feel for what it is.

NB: I have added a supplemental reading that expands on Caillois – one I have found very useful over the years (it is intentionally limited to digital games, but I have used the ideas to talk about weiqi and mahjong, two Chinese table games).



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