(mary and her baby) writing reaction paper

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The schedule is changing as mentioned in class, as one of the books is unavailable. For now I’m cancelling the reading of Armstrong in favor of chapter five (“Mary and her Baby”) in The Islamic Jesus. I passed that out in class and will post a pdf of it. Have that read for July 12 and we’ll discuss it. The chapter will also be the basis of your reaction paper due July 19.

The reaction paper is to be two pages long, double-spaced, 12–point font, and standard one inch margins. Put you name on it and the day it is due, July 19. Introduce the title of the essay and its author (e.g., Mustafa Akyol’s chapter, “Mary and her Baby,” in The Islamic Jesus is the subject of this reaction paper).

A reaction paper needs a brief introduction to the author’s name and the chapter or book’s title. Just a sentence will be fine for that. Then, briefly summarize the essay’s contents. What is it about? What is Akyol arguing? What evidence does he use? Try to be done with the summary on page one. This leaves room for the important part—your reaction.

Then you write your reaction. This can be in the first person (“I think that…” or “I feel it…”). Allow yourself to have an opinion to express. However, back up your opinion with evidence from the chapter. Choose some points to agree or disagree with. You don’t need to worry about a citation since the paper is based on a single source, other than previously mentioned introduction sentence with the author’s name and the title. If you choose to include some quotes just use a parenthetical citation with a page number.

Try to avoid using contractions. In academic writing it’s frowned upon. It might seem a bit robotic, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. A good way to check your paper for contractions is to do a search for apostrophes after you’ve written it (then just change “it’s” to “it is,” etc.). But, if you quote something from the paper, the contractions stay—always quote an author exactly as they’ve written something. It’s a good practice to get into for academic writing, although we all use contractions. It’s just one of those rules.


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