I expect your reaction papers to be 2-3 pages in length (typed, double-spaced) and for you to pick a topic that you find thought provoking and that you can say something about.
While a reaction paper does not need to be as formal as a multi-draft essay, it should have a point / make an argument / have a thesis / show evidence of thought and evaluation and that point / argument / thesis / thought should be supported with evidence from the book (in the form of quotations) and that evidence should be properly formatted, punctuated, and cited (MLA format).
Your reaction paper is due via Google docs on Monday, April 14.
Here are some possible topics, but feel free to write on others:
- Imagine a conversation with the Commander about the structure of society, and how it views and esteems women. What do you imagine their rhetoric to be? Do you hear parallels with contemporary discussions on valuing or protecting women?
- Language functions as a tool for control in Offred’s society, as women are not allowed read or write, and the Bible is interpreted in a way that promotes the Republic of Gilead’s agenda. How does control of language contribute to the ideology of this society? Or, how does Offred use language to regain some sense of self?
- What effect does the inclusion of the Historical Notes have on the narrative, or on Offred’s attempts at storytelling? Think about the shift in style, and how the Notes provide an additional perspective on Offred’s story and her society.
- Choose one of the scholarly articles we read in class as your starting point. Identify their argument and decide if you agree or disagree with the argument they are making. Write a reaction paper that analyzes the novel in light of the argument made in the scholarly article. Choose an article that you can complicate or use to expand your understanding of the novel, do not simply write an essay that says you agree with the article.
- Compare Handmaid’s Tale to 1984 or Herland. In this short of a paper, you will need to choose one aspect of the novel (control of language, revision of history, gender segregation, treatment of sexuality) to examine in both texts and use your comparison to draw a conclusion about the treatment of that aspect in both texts. Your essay should illuminate something about the comparison of the two texts that you would not have understood simply looking at one text alone.