Beck’s “Unnatural Selection”

1. Beck’s “Unnatural Selection” link:…

2. Lopato’s “Yes, Science is Political” (attached in file)

3. Jewitt and Luu’s “Pluto, Perception & Planetary Politics”

4. Martin’s “The Egg and the Sperm” (attached in file)

Assignment Directions:

1) Choose an interesting passage (~three to four sentences) from one of our shared assigned readings so far.

2) Place the passage in quotation marks at the top of the page (beneath your heading) and follow it with an MLA in-text citation, just like you would if the quote appeared in an essay.

3) Below, compose a formal response to the passage* in which you:

a. explain what the passage means and is saying to the reader, in your own words

b. explain why it interests you as a reader** while paying attention to at least one important word in the passage.

  • To do this, identify a significant word in the passage. Look the word up in the Oxford English Dictionary ( (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Links to an external site.). Provide the definition of the word as it is used in the passage as a direct quote [The Oxford English Dictionary defines “word” as “definition” (citation)]. Then, in the process of explaining why the passage is interesting, discuss how the word shapes or influences the meaning of the passage you’ve chosen.

*If the passage doesn’t give you much to respond to and you find yourself doing more summary than analysis, it’s best to choose a different passage. Otherwise, you won’t have anything to write about 🙂

**Keep in mind that you can be interested in something even if you feel like you don’t fully understand it or don’t really agree with it (Ex: “I find theories about the existence of aliens interesting, but ultimately pointless, because…”). Your response is a great place to explore that dynamic!

Assignment Goals:

1) Your primary task is to explain why and how the ideas/concepts/arguments in the passage you’ve quoted made you think more deeply about a larger issue or idea you might be interested in exploring further in your upcoming argumentative essay.

2) By beginning to engage actively with a text as a reader, you are becoming more aware about what you respond to as a member of the essay’s audience.

3) When you carefully read and analyze a meaningful passage from a shared reading, you are working actively towards building an essay. The best arguments often critically engage with important points or ideas, so by summarizing and analyzing a small passage you find interesting you’re well on your way to brainstorming and building your own argument.

Minimum Assignment Requirements:

  • Complete assignment as directed above (choose important quote from assigned reading, complete 3a and 3b–be sure to look up an important word in OED, provide the definition, and explain how the word shapes the meaning of the passage as you provide careful, substantial analysis).
  • At least 2 full pages in length (not including the quotation at the top)
  • Meets course formatting requirements (see syllabus)
  • Single space heading (Name, WR121, Meeting Time, Date)
  • MLA style in-text citation
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