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Humanities Libertexts

1.2: Responding to Texts

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  • The key to any effective reading of a text is asking questions. The kinds of questions you ask form what is sometimes called a heuristic (a fancy word for a process that leads you to a solution). The responses that you eventually have to a text will only be as good as the questions you ask. Over time, as you practice, asking these questions will become automatic. For now, please consult these lists. 

    • What is the author’s point? How does the author create and build this meaning?
      • What is the thesis (main point) of the text? where does the author most clearly state this?
      • What points to you find especially interesting?
      • How would you explain the main point of this text to someone else?
    • Are you reading or exploring easily and fluidly, or are you finding it difficult to navigate the text? Why do you believe this is so?
      • Do formatting or structural issues (examples: unusual use of punctuation, use of dialect or jargon) affect your navigation of the text?
      • Do you need to look up any words to do any quick research? If so, does this help you better understand the text?
    • What do you agree with? What do you disagree with?
    • What does the text make you think about? Have you had any experiences like those being described? Can you identify with the story?
    • How does who you are (age, education, cultural background, religion, ethnicity, etc.) shape your response to this text?
    • What questions do you have about the work? What would you ask the author? What would you ask your professor?

    You might have noticed that many of these questions repeat the skills of effective reading. You'll notice too that many of these questions are further developed as you analyze texts. 

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