Short Lit Crit Response

From Gerald R. Lucas

This assignment is an introduction to research and incorporating that research into a short written response.

Video Orientation
MGA Librarian Samantha Wilcox has put together a series of three short videos that introduce how to research for this assignment. Start the tutorial.[1] See the play list.
Pro Tip
Start with the “Using Library Resources for English Research” tutorial. Additionally, consult the English Research Guide and/or MGA’s Literature Research Guide for assistance in locating a strong secondary source.

Choose a strong essay (called a secondary source) about one of the texts we have read in class. The resource must address something we have already read for class. Use the English Research Guide and/or find a book of essays in the library (there are plenty). While there are good general resources available on the web, including my own writing, you may not use them for this assignment.

Read the essay you choose and take notes. What is the critic’s central argument about the text; how does she support that argument? What points does she make that are particularly insightful (or which seem unconvincing)? How does it help you in your understanding of the text?

Summarize the critic’s main points or arguments in no more than a paragraph. Be sure you cite the secondary source correctly with parenthetical citations.

Respond to the essay and add your own analysis of the text. This is the important part: spend at least a page responding to the essay — do you agree or not? Why? Be sure you use evidence from class discussion and the primary text to support your reading.

Responses should be two pages (you will be penalized for more) and formatted correctly using MLA format (you must include a works cited section where your secondary source is listed correctly). Please review “Writing in the Liberal Arts” and implement these conventions when writing about literature. Errors will cost you points.

See an Example.


  1. This tutorial contains an optional, extra-credit quiz. Take the quiz for some additional points on this assignment.