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Christian Brother University Critical Affect Literacy and Empathy Discussion

In these responses, I want to see you grappling with key course themes, issues, or questions. I also want to see you demonstrate your original critical and creative thinking about the texts we are reading, particularly as you interpret the literary works in their historical and cultural contexts. Your response should offer a thesis-driven argument about the text, and you should draw in key textual evidence to build your analysis. Although your response will likely build on content from course lectures and discussion, you should write with the goal of moving beyond what we have discussed in class to develop your own argument and interpretation. Response paper prompts this semester will vary in purpose and style. Some prompts will ask for more traditional close reading or historical research, while others may allow for more creative or non-traditional work. Others will explicitly ask you to synthesize readings of multiple works, including primary and secondary texts.

Your response should be well-written, organized into a short essay, and cited appropriately. Remember, for your first 3 responses, you will have a revise and resubmit option to improve your grade; however, this option requires that you (1) submit the initial response within its submission window and (2) schedule a virtual office hours appointment with me to discuss your work and ideas for improvement before you will be given a resubmission window on Canvas.


This response should be approximately 3-4 double-spaced pages (no less than 2.5 but no more than 5). Acceptable fonts include Times New Roman and Calibri (sizes 10-12). Your goal should be to write something of a promising quality; that is, it should be well-written, well-edited, and formal, but it might be the first draft of an idea that could be further explored in a longer project. Strong responses will make use of the reading(s); you should draw from the text(s) and quote specific textual examples. Please cite specific passages and examples in whatever option you choose, using parenthetical references and MLA or Chicago citation style. The best responses make clear use of the readings, analyze possible meanings, and respond to thoughtfully selected quotations and key ideas with interpretation.

The Resources for Writing about Literature module in Canvas offers support and for your written assignments

.Prompt Choices

Choose one of the following options. You should choose the option that you think will provide a spark for your thinking about the literary texts. Please be sure to reference and analyze specific passages from the literary work(s) in your response.

1) Critical Affect Literacy and Empathy: Empathy has been a theme for our course since the beginning. Jennifer Bondy and Brent Johnson introduce the concept of critical affect literacy in their article, “Critical Affect Literacy; A Call to Action in a Trump Administration,” which was our secondary reading for this unit. Pages 357-58 of their article offers a definition of critical affect literacy, which they then apply to an educational context. How could a novel such as The Leavers help us learn empathy, gain critical affect literacy, and view immigration in a different light? Using ideas from Bondy and Johnson’s article, write an essay in which you analyze the work being performed by The Leavers through the lens of critical affect literacy, and consider how this novel might change the way people interact with difference and understand power.

2) The Leavers in its Historical Moment: Published in 2017, Lisa Ko’s The Leavers entered a world of changing policies for immigrant and attitudes toward immigrants. Although Ko was inspired by a 2009 article in the New York Times (see our Introduction to Lisa Ko page for a link), it spoke to the political moment of the early Donald Trump Presidency. Write a response in which you consider the work performed by The Leavers in its cultural moment. How did it contest, challenge, or participate in dominant and popular discourse about immigration? Work with specific details about the novel in your response as you form a cohesive argument about the role of this book in its 2017-2020 moment.


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