Responding

Multi-Pass Reading

Some people refer to the process we're describing here as multi-pass reading. On your first pass, you're getting the lay of the land, thinking about the audience for the text, its apparent approach. On your next pass you're reading all the way through a text but you're not responding but are instead coming to terms with the text as a whole document. On the next pass you're re-reading and responding through annotations and text marking and marginal summary, essentially coming to terms with the text's message. On yet another reading you're skimming and scanning and thinking about the speaker (the name we sometimes give to the human being, the writer, behind the words you're reading). You ask yourself what you know about the speaker in terms of facts, whether directly stated or alluded to, (gender, race, age, affiliations, etc.), emotions (evidence in the text of the speaker's emotional response to his or her topic), and attitudes (evidence from the text of the speaker's intellectual response to his or her topic and conveyed as judgments or conclusions). Think throughout your multiple reading about audience and purpose. For whom did the writer write? What purpose(s) did the text serve? These kinds of questions can help you move from an objective restatement of a text's substance toward more penetrating observation and analysis of the text's aims and accomplishments. How did the writer hope to influence his or her readers' way of thinking or acting? And why?

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Introduction